I'm a huge fan of Hugh Howey's Wool series, so when I saw that he had written a glowing endorsement for Bird Box, I was intrigued. Howey's blurb calls Josh Malerman's debut supernatural/psychological horror novel a book "to be read in a single sitting", a sentiment I whole-heartedly agree with now that I’ve had a chance to read it myself.
Bird Box is most enjoyable when read with as few interruptions as possible. Each time I was forced to put the book down, I found myself worrying about the fates of various characters, many of whom - thanks to two alternating timelines - we know are most likely dead by the time the we are introduced to Mallory and the children.
Malerman’s premise is simple, but clever, and unlike anything I’ve encountered before (although comparisons to M. Night Shyamalan’s movie The Village came to mind while I was reading). The idea of being tormented by creatures that may or may not be figments of our imaginations plays to humanity’s primitive fear of the dark, reminding us that sometimes it’s the things we can’t see that are the most frightening.
What makes the book work is the constant fear that at any moment, someone might slip up and do something we all take for granted: LOOK. It will have you thinking about how much we rely on sight – in the world Malerman describes, something as mundane as a walk around the block becomes a harrowing journey from which we may never find our way home.
Bird Box is one of the best psychological horror novels I’ve read in recent years. It’s definitely one of the most fun. Malerman effectively builds the suspense over the course of the book's 250 pages - a perfect length for a story of this type as there in no filler -, culminating in a nail-biting climax that kept me awake until the early hours of the morning.
I highly recommend it for anyone who likes being thoroughly creeped out.