Review by Brennan LaFaro
Wow, wow, wow. What to say about this epic novel. I could fill the space of an entire review just trying to classify Malerman’s latest effort into a genre. Fans of Malerman’s horror will find horrific elements within. Fans of sprawling, imaginative storytelling will find everything to love here. Want great characters? Check. Humor? Check. The current, past, and future state of America condensed to 720 pages. Check.
Let’s talk character first. Malerman makes the bold move to start with a man walking into a bar and we’re introduced to the Cape, an enigmatic, silver-haired eccentric that the reader doesn’t quite know what to make up at first, but we’re intrigued, oh yes. Enter Ghoul, the perfect foil to Cape’s relentless optimism, he plays the straight man. One thing I believe makes a great horror story is when the horror elements are removed, we still want to see what the characters are up to. Well, let me tell you, if Malerman never left the first bar, I’d still be reading whatever these two wanted to chat about. From there, the two travel across America meeting a host of personalities along their journey, all of which are interesting and sympathetic, and we grieve a little bit when our time is done with them.
The scope of Ghoul n’ the Cape is massive, starting in New York City and working westward to escape an imminent threat. Malerman’s time seeing the country with The High Strung is on full display here. Everywhere the story goes, the sights, sounds, and people spring to life around the scene. Sprinkled in is backstory that never feels tedious and a smattering of folk tales and original stories that add to the mythos created.
Ghoul n’ the Cape feels at times like Joseph Heller, Stephen King, and John Steinbeck, but always like Josh Malerman. His frenetic energy pervades the storytelling here to create a story that has no idea how to drag. Malerman has created something truly special and unique here, something that has every chance to stand the test of time.
Click here to preorder from Earthling Publications.