Flash­backs to four years ear­lier inter­sperse the saga of Malorie’s des­per­ate canoe trip to find a new sanc­tu­ary. At that time she lived with a small group of sur­vivors in the same house she and her chil­dren are now flee­ing; in fact, she gave birth to them there, unat­tended and ter­ri­fied. The flash­backs tell us a lot about life in the house with the drawn shades and about a world where every activ­ity tak­ing place out­doors has to be per­formed wear­ing a blind­fold, but there’s not much flesh­ing out of the char­ac­ters. I’d have liked to know more about these peo­ple with whom Mal­o­rie shared the dark house, other than their pen­chant for quar­rel­ing among them­selves, but I fully iden­ti­fied with their angst – when com­rades leave the house to gather pro­vi­sions, who knows what they may have seen by the time they return?

BIRD BOX is both deeply dis­turb­ing and very hard to put down. Malerman’s fic­tion lures us into a night­mare world where not see­ing what’s out there may or may not kill you, but tak­ing off the blind­fold to look most cer­tainly will.

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