book review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman


BIRD BOX by Josh Malerman
Ecco, 2014

Bird Box is one of the most original and downright terrifying horror novels I’ve ever read. Set in the near future, the novel begins in a vaguely post-apocalyptic wasteland that used to be suburban Michigan, where a young woman, Malorie, leads her two children to a rowboat, all of them blindfolded. Five years previously, there was some kind of event which wiped out the majority of the population – there’s something outside, and when people see it, they’re driven to madness and violence. There’s only one rule in the new world in order to survive: don’t open your eyes.

This is more of a survival story than I had been expecting from a horror novel, but I was okay with that, because it focuses on the elements of survival that I find particularly interesting. How does a group of individuals move forward together in a lawless world? Which social norms from the old world are worth preserving? At what point does survival stop being enough? (It’s strangely reminiscent of Station Eleven in this regard.) I highly recommend this to anyone who prefers their horror light on the gore and heavy on the psychological.

But survival is only one element. Bird Box is scary. The tension that Josh Malerman creates in this novel never lets up, even for a second. Malerman taps into a really primal fear – fear of the dark, fear of the unknown. What’s so remarkable about Bird Box is that the scariest passages aren’t necessarily ones where you see horrifying things happening. It’s the ones where the characters are taking a tentative step outside, eyes closed, not knowing if they’re mere inches away from danger.

No, it’s not perfect; yes, there are questions that go unanswered, but I loved this. The atmosphere is unsettling and frightening, the characters are real and flawed and believable, and the climax is incredible. What a delightfully creepy and striking book. I wanted to start it again the second I finished.

18 thoughts on “book review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman

    • IT WAS SO GOOD thank you again for the rec! It’s just what I was in the mood for. Not nearly enough of my friends like horror, but I texted the one who does and was like ‘you need to read this immediately’ and now she’s already 70% done and loving it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a tricky one… it’s so good and I want to recommend it to everyone, but I don’t want to traumatize anybody! When I say it was scary, I mean certain passages gave me chills, I don’t mean that I had to sleep with the light on and I need to book a therapy session to deal with it or anything, lol. But that said, I don’t really scare easily so it’s really hard to tell… I guess what I’d recommend is reading the first three or four chapters (they’re short) – that should give you a pretty good sense of the sort of horror it is. If you can handle it at that point you’ll be fine going forward. And reading horror in the daytime always helps!


  1. I’ve had this on my e-reader for years, but never gotten around to reading it. Your fantastic review has sparked my interest again and reminded me why I first bought the novel. About time I get around to reading it. Keep the great reviews coming.

    Liked by 1 person

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