Book Review: PEARL by Josh Malerman

This is a stunning work of fiction; worth every star I’m giving it. I do have to say, however, that I almost put it down forever after reading the first chapter. I’m not a fan of visceral horror and definitely not a fan of anything that borders on animal abuse. But this was by Josh Malerman and I loved his Bird Box and its sequel, Malorie. So, after a day or two, I picked up Pearl again, determined to soldier on. Boy, am I glad I did.

The story starts when Jeff, his older brother, Aaron, and his mother go to visit at his grandfather’s farm somewhere in mid-Michigan. Grandpa gives the boys chores to do – Aaron is to collect eggs from the chicken coop and Jeff is to feed the horses. However, Jeff doesn’t follow through and, instead, is strangely compelled by a voice, sounding like it’s on the wind, to visit the pigpen.

Come, Jeff. Sing for me… 

When Jeff gets to the pen, Pearl, a male pig with one bad eye, is all he can see. 

Thus, begins Jeff and the reader’s journey into horror. This is a bloody novel, with scenes that will chill your heart. The characters, especially the two stoners (Mitch and Jerry) and the teenage girl (Susan), are realistic, wonderfully drawn, and the reader can’t help but become invested in their fates. Pearl (the pig) is an enigma, menacing, yet strangely compelling as he leads the reader on a dark path into the inner recesses of the human mind. By the end of the book, I wasn’t sure what was real and what was actually the product of Pearl’s evil, but endlessly clever, machinations.

For me, this was a brilliant read and I recommend it most highly for lovers of dark fantasy and horror. Five big shiny stars. 

P.S: I love the cover!

Pearl is on preorder now. Publication date is October 12, 2021.

Finally, I want to thank the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC copy of Pearl.