“Alice Isn’t Dead”: Horror’s best new read

Joseph Fink's latest novel—available in Hardcover, E-Book, CD, and Digital Audio.

Courtesy of nightvalepresents.com

Joseph Fink's latest novel—available in Hardcover, E-Book, CD, and Digital Audio.

Mark Fernquest, News Editor

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Horror nerds everywhere, fetch your reading glasses and plump up the cushions on your comfy chair: There’s a new book in town, and it doesn’t disappoint. Joseph Fink, New York Times bestselling co-author of “It Devours!” and “Welcome to Nightvale,” has alchemized pure, dark delight with this new solo writing venture “Alice Isn’t Dead.”

First and foremost, this book is a travelogue. Keisha, the protagonist, is on a quest to find her vanished wife, Alice, and takes up trucking to do so. Her quest progresses mile after mile, day after day, month after month and year after year, consuming every ounce of her energy and focus as she leaves her old life behind.

It’s a journey with little reprieve, one that reminds us the only way out is through. As Keisha drives the vast, lonely highways of America, clues slowly unveil themselves, drawing her toward a final reckoning with dark forces.

The horror of the road permeates this book. Specifically, the horror of the American highway — and Keisha’s meanderings down American highways quickly become a meandering through the dingier layers of the American psyche.

Fink uses the term terrible freedom to describe the darkness that haunts American highways. It is indeed a terrible freedom, made real by too much space and too many strangers and too much room to hide in. It’s a freedom filled with serial killers and the countless, all-too-real disappeared.

The evil in this story is ever-present, yet understated. “Alice Isn’t Dead” is neither a slasher nor a Stephen King-esque psychological rendering — it’s a comic book-style musing on the nature of evil. There’s no suspenseful build-up to each murder — when death happens, it happens out-of-the-blue, matter-of-factly, in the middle of the crowd, while nobody watches.

Fink’s writing style is deceptively simple. He gets a lot done with few words. There’s no formula at work — the story unfolds like a drive down a never-ending highway. I was pleasantly surprised with each turn of the page.

“Alice Isn’t Dead” is a metaphor for the cyclical nature of good and evil — for the rise and fall of fortune and misfortune, light and darkness. And if Keisha ultimately dispells the darkness, we’re reminded that the new dawn will, in time, again give way to night.

Packaged in a small-ish, $19.99 hardback, “Alice Isn’t Dead” is perfectly sized for a second read.

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