In 1950s Mexico, Noemí Taboada, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, is sent by her father to help her cousin, Catalina Doyle, whose impetuous marriage has landed her in High Place, a moldering mansion perched in the “steep and abrupt landscape” of El Triunfo.
Noemí, who prefers parties and fashionable dresses to the staid Anglophile Doyle family, finds her cousin much changed. While the family doctor claims Catalina suffers from tuberculosis, she doesn’t have any of the usual symptoms. Indeed, she claims that the walls tell her secrets, a dreamy delusion Noemí soon comes to experience firsthand. In her attempts to help Catalina, Noemí is pulled into a frightening ancestral legacy that has ripped the Doyle family apart.
Kathleen Jennings’s FLYAWAY (Tor.com, 175 pp., $19.99), reads like a fairy tale, one in which everything is slightly off-kilter. Bettina Scott, who lives with her odd, controlling mother, is at the center of a number of family mysteries in her village of Runagate, a place where you’ll find “roses planted in wire-fenced gardens on the buried corpses of roadside kangaroos.” Jennings’s sentences are startling, requiring one to look close, then step away; just as a Gaudí construction — the Sagrada Família, for example — demands one take in a small accretion of details to best appreciate the vast complexity. It can feel claustrophobic at times, but entering this world is worth the discomfort: Jennings has written an unforgettable tale, as beautiful as it is thorny.
Don’t look now, but the sequel to “Bird Box” — the 2014 novel by Josh Malerman that was adapted into a film starring Sandra Bullock — is here. Malorie and her children survived their first encounter with the creatures — amorphous beings who cause madness to all who see them — by taking refuge in a school for the blind.
In MALORIE (Del Rey, 300 pp., $28), 12 years have passed and now the rules have changed: The creatures can harm by touch so that even the blind are undone. In this fast-paced, frightening narrative, Malorie discovers information about fellow survivors, and hits the road with her children, searching for something of “the old world” to hold onto.