The legend of a strange new monster unlike any other in horror…
We’re thrilled to share the cover and preview an excerpt from Pearl, a new novel from Bird Box author Josh Malerman, publishing October 12th with Del Rey.
Go to the farm just outside of town and you’ll hear it.
A voice. Inside your head.
Or is it?
Come to me…
A voice that makes you want to pick up that axe over in the corner of the barn.
And swing it.
Feed us. Feed us now.
It is the voice of Pearl.
Sing for me. Sing for your precious Pearl…
Josh Malerman is a New York Times bestselling author and one of two singer/songwriters for the rock band The High Strung. His debut novel, Bird Box, is the inspiration for the hit Netflix film of the same name. His other novels include Unbury Carol, Inspection, A House at the Bottom of a Lake, and Malorie, the sequel to Bird Box. Malerman lives in Michigan with his fiancée, the artist-musician Allison Laakko.
Grandpa led him to the stables, and on the way, Jeff heard them breathing behind the trees.
The sound remained lodged in his mind, in his bones, as he passed them, loud, louder than the horses were, even when he stood inches from the muzzle of a mare.
“This here’s their favorite,” Grandpa said, fishing a handful of damp, yellowing oats from a brown wooden trough. “But you gotta be a bit careful ’cause they’ll chew your fingers clean off.”
Jeff looked up and saw Grandpa smiling, sadly, behind a show of white whiskers. His eyebrows had always remained dark as midnight, though.
“Really?” Jeff asked.
“No,” Grandpa said. “Not really. But it was fun to see the look on your face.”
It felt good. Falling for a joke.
Through the open door, Jeff saw Aaron eyeing the chicken coop, readying himself to pick some eggs.
“Enjoy,” Grandpa said. “But don’t eat more than the horses.” Another joke. Good. Felt good.
Then Grandpa left him alone in the stables. Jeff looked up, into the eyes of the brown horse he stood by.
“Hello,” he said. “You hungry?”
It felt good to talk. Felt good to pet the horse’s nose. To feel the strong neck and shoulders.
“You remember me, right?” Jeff smiled at the horse. Wished it could smile back. “My name is—”
Jeff stepped quickly from the animal. The black emotional chasm that came with the sound of his name was wider, darker, deeper than any nightmare he’d known before. As if, in that moment, his ill-defined apprehensions about the farm had been galvanized, and everything Jeff was afraid of was true.
He dropped a handful of grains and stepped farther from the mare. Wide-eyed, he stared at her, waiting to hear it again, waiting to hear his name spoken here in the stables.
But the horse hadn’t said his name.
“Mom?” he called, looking to the stable door.
Jeff backed up to the stable wall.
“Aaron? Are you screwing with me?”
It could have been Aaron. It should have been Aaron. But Jeff knew it wasn’t.
He folded his arms across his chest, combating a cold wind that passed through the stable.
Come to me, Jeff…
It sounded like the voice was traveling on the wind. Or like it was the wind. It was made of something his own voice didn’t have. He didn’t want to say what it really sounded like. Didn’t want to say it sounded like the voice was coming from outside the stables, up the hill, from the pigpen behind the trees.
Jeff exited the stables, stood outside under the sun. Aaron was out of sight. Mom was probably in the farmhouse, talking to Grandpa.
It wasn’t pretty, watching Mom beg for money.
It was coming from the evergreens. Jeff knew this now, could hear this now, and he wouldn’t have been shocked to see a farm- hand peeking out between the branches using his pointer finger to beckon him closer.
Jeff… come here…
Without deciding to do it, Jeff took the dirt path to the trees. He crouched on one knee and split the branches. Through them, he saw the pigpen and the pigs lazing in the mud.
Jeff stood up.
He didn’t want to get any closer. Didn’t want to be alone out here at all.
He ran up the grassy hill to the farmhouse.
Louder now. Strong enough to root Jeff to the ground. He looked over his shoulder back to the hidden pigpen.
Come, Jeff. Sing for me…
Cautiously, Jeff walked back down the hill, to the end of the row of evergreens.
Most the pigs were gathered together at the far side of the fence. One paced the length of the pen, bobbing his head, snorting, half covered in mud. It looked to Jeff as if he was thinking.
Jeff looked back to the chicken coop. No Aaron. Still. When he turned back to the pen, Pearl was all he could see. Pearl.
Sitting on his ass like a person might, his front hooves limp at the sides of his belly, his head was cocked slightly to the side, his pink ears straight, high above his head. His bad eye looked dark, hidden, but his good one was fixed on Jeff.
In it, Jeff saw an intelligence that scared him.
Excerpt from PEARL by Josh Malerman, copyright © 2018 by Josh Malerman. Used by permission of Del Rey, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.