the bright lands

4 stars (release date July 7, 2020)

This book is a creepy, weird mixture of mystery/suspense and horror – a combination that works surprisingly well. I couldn’t stop reading it, even though part of me didn’t want know anything more about what happens and just wanted to go on about my life.

The town of Bentley is a typical Texas small town. Young and old alike – their entire world revolves around high school football. As a gay man growing up in southern Texas, Joel Whitley had a difficult life in Bentley. He fled town for New York City ten years ago after a big scandal and never looked back. He’s now a successful business man that is able to be himself in his new city. But, a troubling text from his younger brother Dylan, who is the star quarterback player on the high school football team, suddenly takes him back to the town he vowed he’d never step foot in again.

Sheriff’s Deputy Starsha Clark, who used to date Joel in high school, never left town and has been able to make a life for herself, although she is still haunted by the mysterious disappearance of her older brother ten years ago. She’s not happy about Joel’s appearance in town, but when Dylan goes missing after the Friday night football game, they find themselves thrust together to investigate the missing boy.

Dylan’s friends and teammates are definitely hiding something, and Joel and Starsha must keep digging to get to the truth. Complicating matters are the disturbing nightmares they, and other town members, start having the night Dylan went missing. Things definitely aren’t as they seem, and supernatural forces may be in play. Joel and Starsha may find out what’s going on – but do they really want to know the answers?

I can’t go into much detail beyond this without spoiling it for you. This book caught my attention and didn’t let go until the end. I stayed up until 4am to finish it because I just had to know how it ended. It is very well written and while the story unfolds slowly in the beginning, the pace quickens as it gets weirder and creepier. The author plants little tidbits throughout the book, which peaked my interested until I was dying to find out what the heck was going on. While I guessed some of the mystery, I had no idea other things were going to happen – and that’s what you want in a mystery/thriller. Some of the story is very salacious and pretty far-fetched, but hey, if you’re going to write something that is really “out there”, you might as well go for it.

Frank depictions of topics including child abuse, drug addiction, misogyny, and antigay are scattered throughout the book. It definitely isn’t for the faint of heart and if you’re put off by graphic sexual content, violence, cursing and hate speech (derogatory words used against homosexual characters), you should pass on reading this book.

This book is original and was quite a surprise. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend you read it.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.