Malorie: Josh Malerman
Reviewed By Gavin Kendall
As a reader, I have a holy trinity of authors that I not only read and eagerly await their latest stories with a passion like an addict awaiting their next fix, I also collect their work as best I can. First and limited editions are treasured on my shelves alongside photos of my kids and family. These authors are Clive Barker, Adam Nevill and Josh Malerman.
I believe I first read Josh back in 2015 with his breakthrough hit Bird Box. A story packed with tension, featuring creatures that can send you insane just by looking at them and in the lead character, Malorie, an incredibly strong woman that will do anything to protect her children in a world quite literally going mad.
As a fan of Josh, I was incredibly excited to hear that a sequel was being released. Although Bird Box is pretty much self-contained, I could see that there could be more stories in this world and with Josh’s incredible imagination the boundaries were limitless.
As a reviewer, I’m nervous. I’ve now read Malorie, the sequel to Bird Box and find myself incredibly torn. For me, I’d like to see a sequel expand on the ideas set out in the previous act. I’m not necessarily expecting a Scott’s Alien to Cameron’s Aliens style leap here but I’m not really looking for more of the same (and in some cases less) than the original. And that’s what we have here.
Now that sounds incredibly negative and please, before I continue, Malorie is a solid novel but it’s essentially Bird Box 1.5.
Malorie unsurprisingly focuses on the character Josh obviously cares so much about, but for me, at the expense of the mayhem going on in the outside world. Malorie carried Bird Box as a mother protecting her children against all odds, in the sequel she is somewhat diluted by the fact that her kids have grown up. Seventeen years have passed, Tom and Olympia are now old enough to question their mother and have thoughts of their own. She is dismissed and often angry, resulting in three-way arguments and discussions that really amplify the isolation of the family but without really pushing the story on. It’s a bickering family throwing out clues to what’s going on beyond the blindfolds by alluding to failed experiments and events outside of their safe haven.
The family interactions are interesting, the juxtaposition between Malorie’s desire to survive and the children’s will to live is enjoyable. One of them will have to offer some slack for them to continue but old habits die hard. The creatures that plagued Bird Box are still out there and are still driving people mad.
And this leads me to my main problem with Malorie. The creatures offer next to no threat what so ever. The children’s heightened senses due to wearing blindfolds for so long mean they can detect them and essentially just avoid them. The creatures just stand there waiting to be looked at. That doesn’t make for much excitement, it’s the almost complete lack of jeopardy I felt whilst reading Malorie that disappointed me the most. One particular scene in a barn was set up brilliantly, I was thinking this is the moment that Josh is going to throw a spanner in the works. Will the creatures do something different? How are the survivors going to get out of this predicament?
The Answer? They just slowly walk away. The creatures to a large extent have lost their hold over us.
Humans are the monster of this piece, it’s their own madness in trying to survive that puts lives at risk. There are a few characters that appear in Malorie beyond the core trio that add some spice and offer glimpses at what Josh may have up his sleeve if he ever returns to this world. With Malorie being an incredibly linear story, there’s no room to spread its wings and offer much more than a further insight to Malorie, the strong mother and woman that’ll do anything for her family. And for that Malorie works, as a sequel to a game-changing novel, Malorie falls short in what my expectations were but it does open the door to further stories down the track. And for that, I’m very much on board.
Twelve years after Malorie and her children rowed up the river to safety, a blindfold is still the only thing that stands between sanity and madness. One glimpse of the creatures that stalk the world will drive a person to unspeakable violence.
There remains no explanation. No solution.
All Malorie can do is survive—and impart her fierce will to do so on her children. Don’t get lazy, she tells them. Don’t take off your blindfold. AND DON’T LOOK.
But then comes what feels like impossible news. And with it, the first time Malorie has allowed herself to hope.
Someone very dear to her, someone she believed dead, may be alive.
Malorie has already lost so much: her sister, a house full of people who meant everything, and any chance at an ordinary life. But getting her life back means returning to a world full of unknowable horrors—and risking the lives of her children again.
Because the creatures are not the only thing Malorie fears: There are the people who claim to have caught and experimented on the creatures. Murmurings of monstrous inventions and dangerous new ideas. And rumors that the creatures themselves have changed into something even more frightening.
Malorie has a harrowing choice to make: to live by the rules of survival that have served her so well, or to venture into the darkness and reach for hope once more.
I’m living in the South-East of England between London and Brighton. I’ve been married to Laura since 2000 and have two daughters. (Emily & Freya). I’ve always had a passion for horror and decided, as a hobby, that I’d like to create a blog to showcase this fascination with the darker genres.
I started Kendall Reviews in January 2017, initially to host my reviews of books and music that I had in my sizeable collections. Pretty quickly, this became a passion project and morphed into a blog that wanted to help PROMOTE HORROR.
I want to thank all the people that interact with the blog and of course to the rest of the Kendall Reviews team.
Follow me on Twitter @gjkendall
For all things horror please check out my blog www.kendallreviews.com