The Bright Lands

The Bright Lands

3.42 (3,918 ratings by Goodreads)
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3.42 (3,918 ratings by Goodreads)

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A Best Book of 2020 from Library Journal, CrimeReads, and BookPage

"Marks the debut of an already accomplished novelist." --John Banville

The town of Bentley holds two things dear: its football, and its secrets. But when star quarterback Dylan Whitley goes missing, an unremitting fear grips this remote corner of Texas.

Joel Whitley was shamed out of conservative Bentley ten years ago, and while he's finally made a life for himself as a gay man in New York, his younger brother's disappearance soon brings him back to a place he thought he'd escaped for good. Meanwhile, Sheriff's Deputy Starsha Clark stayed in Bentley; Joel's return brings back painful memories--not to mention questions--about her own missing brother. And in the high school hallways, Dylan's friends begin to suspect that their classmates know far more than they're telling the police. Together, these unlikely allies will stir up secrets their town has long tried to ignore, drawing the attention of dangerous men who will stop at nothing to see that their crimes stay buried.

But no one is quite prepared to face the darkness that's begun to haunt their nightmares, whispering about a place long thought to be nothing but an urban legend: an empty night, a flicker of light on the horizon--The Bright Lands.

Shocking, twisty and relentlessly suspenseful, John Fram's debut is a heart-pounding story about old secrets, modern anxieties and the price young men pay for glory.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 480 pages
  • 152 x 216 x 41mm | 567g
  • English
  • Original ed.
  • 1335836624
  • 9781335836625
  • 708,549

Review quote

"John Fram's novel marks the debut of an already accomplished novelist. The Bright Lands is a dark tale luminously, and compellingly, told." -- John Banville, Man Booker Award Winner

"Absolutely enthralling. Written with the rhythm of the game Fram writes of. A mystery to get the skin crawling even as you unbury the secrets of those trying to solve it. Despite its nature, there is a warmth to this thriller, and you'll feel like you've come home...a home that still haunts you."
--Josh Malerman, New York Times bestselling author of Bird Box

"The Bright Lands is Gothic and Faulknerian: smooth, original, haunting. And very sexy."
-Edmund White, author of A Boy's Own Story

"John Fram's The Bright Lands is darker than you think. Fram begins with a Friday Night Lights supernatural mystery, then lures the reader into an insidious labyrinth of human cruelty, voracious supernatural evil, and startling malice. Unsettling, and compelling as hell."
-Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of The Pandora Room

"I am stunned--I haven't been able to step away from this book since I started it. An earnest, thoughtful exploration of the monstrosity inherent in our American myths surrounding masculinity and sexuality, The Bright Lands is a kind of horror I've never seen before. Fram's done something exquisite here." --Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars

"Fram has delivered a powerhouse of a debut that is certain to be one of the year's most bracing thrillers. Unapologetic in its queerness, cruelty and heart, The Bright Lands will sink its teeth into you."
--P. J. Vernon, author of When You Find Me

"The Bright Lands is a chilling and fast-paced supernatural thriller that also manages to be a heartbreaking meditation on shame, repression, denial and regret. This strange and beautiful novel is a stunning debut and I'm already hungry for whatever Fram does next."--Shaun Hamill, author of A Cosmology of Monsters

"John Fram's gripping debut announces a remarkable talent--this prose is tight, stylish, and explosive, depicting a Texas that is by turns lusty and menacing, supersaturated and bleak. As propulsive as it is pitch dark, The Bright Lands will seep into the shadowy contours of your most unsettling, unforgettable dreams." --Kimberly King Parsons, author of the National Book Award-nominated Black Light

"John Fram's The Bright Lands is many things: A stylish, gripping thriller that's compulsively readable; a tale of horrors, both everyday and otherworldly, that's at turns disturbing and erotic; and a provocative treatment of gay shame gnarled by toxic masculinity. But most of all, it's a terrifically self-assured debut from a gifted novelist with much to say." --Sam Lansky, author of Broken People

"Smart, sharp, unpredictable, and unsettling, The Bright Lands is not just an excellent supernatural thriller, but the debut of a writer who is breaking down and expanding our ideas of what suspense and horror can and should be."
--David Ebershoff, New York Times-bestselling author of The Danish Girl and The 19th Wife

"Expertly plotted, sharply written, and seriously thrilling, The Bright Lands doesn't read like a debut novel except for the freshness and energy of John Fram's voice." --Stan Parish, author of Love and Theft

"There's a darkness lurking in The Bright Lands, and it's apt to give you a case of the shivers... an enticing read any way you slice it." -BookPage, starred review

"John Fram delivers with his mix of Southern Texas humidity, mystery and dread -- along with police corruption and toxic masculinity...[The Bright Lands] gives us the queer thriller in the age of Grindr we've been waiting for." -Rolling Stone

"A fascinating and suspenseful read."--Booklist

"Fram's ambitious debut takes a critical, terrifying look at a small town in Texas... This offers as many weekend frights as celebratory lights." -Publishers Weekly

"A confident and thought-provoking tale that explores complex family dynamics, sexuality, religion, and coming-of-age anxieties within a solid horror frame. A great choice for fans of Victor LaValle or Ania Ahlborn." -Library Journal

"An addictive and provocative modern whodunit." -Texas Monthly

"[The Bright Lands] is bold, brash, and disturbing, boasting an assured, righteous young voice calling out the contradictions, hypocrisies, and repression that allow the horrors of abuse to root and grow generational damage as history repeats itself." -Lone Star Literary

"John Fram hasn't just revolutionized a genre with his delicious and diabolical debut novel... He may have invented a totally new one all his own." -Interview Magazine

"John Fram carves quite a niche with his debut... The Bright Lands admirably lives up to Fram's 'Stephen Queen' moniker.'" -Shelf Awareness

"[A] rich and complex debut." -Lambda Literary

"This is an excellent tale soaked in atmosphere, that takes readers into some disturbing places as it examines small-town life and queer experiences in rural America." -Mystery Scene Magazine

"For the lovers of mere murder mystery novels with a horror twist, this is a perfect match; for readers who like their stories to have a bit more depth, this is a highly recommendable read as well." -Rainbow Reviews

"The Bright Lands is a thrilling, paranormal murder mystery but it's also one of the most authentic depictions of oppressive small-town America that I have ever read. ... It's one of very few novels that I've read in one sitting (partially because some of the chapters are so freaky I was too afraid to move)." --Chris Colfer
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Rating details

3,918 ratings
3.42 out of 5 stars
5 18% (698)
4 32% (1,255)
3 30% (1,164)
2 15% (602)
1 5% (199)
Book ratings by Goodreads
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