I am a huge fan of Josh Malerman's work. Inspection is one of my all-time favorite novels, and I've had Pearl on my TBR since I first heard about On This, the Day of the Pig making the rounds on Twitter (a reminder, by the way, that the horror community on Twitter is an invaluable wealth of knowledge and recommendations). I was thrilled to be approved for Pearl and quickly dove in.
When Walter's grandson slaughters a pig in a random act of violence, no one is expecting him to blame the pig. Pearl made him do it, he says, and as rumors begin circulating through the town, the mystery surrounding what happened on Koppel farm begins to draw attention. Pearl couldn't possibly be to blame...could he?
Yes, he damn well could, and Malerman starts this book off with a BANG.
This story gripped me from page one. The writing is sharp and conversational while still being literary, a trait I associate with most of Malerman's works. In a fever dream of madness, we get all sorts of crazy: telepathic animals, graphic, bloody violence, a pig with a grudge. The entire time I was reading, I had no idea where this was going to go, and I loved that aspect. Blatant dread-worthy horror at its finest.
What really works here are the voices. Malerman nails the human narrators, but Pearl's voice is incredibly off-putting. Several times I had to put it down because I found the commands to be unnerving, the kind of creepy that gets under your skin and gives you chills. On top of this, you get an examination of depravity, imagery that's straight out of a nightmare--some of which reminded me of that pie scene in Stephen King's The Body--and some masterful storytelling.
A quick, bloody-awesome read that's equal parts Animal Farm and Tender Is the Flesh, Pearl is going to be a top October read.
Huge thanks to Ballantine/Del Rey for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.