Nominated for the 2024 Philip K. Dick Award
An Esquire Best of Horror 2023 pick
"Without question, one of the most beautifully written books I’ve read this year."—The Wall Street Journal
"Can a horror story be beautiful? Wild Spaces tells a terrible truth in the most achingly beautiful way."—Alma Katsu, author of The Fervor
Robert R. McCammon’s Boy’s Life meets Lovecraftian horror in this foreboding, sensual coming-of-age debut in which the corrosive nature of family secrets and toxic relatives assume eldritch proportions.
An eleven-year-old boy lives an idyllic childhood exploring the remote coastal plains and wetlands of South Carolina alongside his parents and his dog Teach. But when the boy’s eerie and estranged grandfather shows up one day with no warning, cracks begin to form as hidden secrets resurface that his parents refuse to explain.
The longer his grandfather outstays his welcome and the greater the tension between the adults grows, the more the boy feels something within him changing —physically—into something his grandfather welcomes and his mother fears. Something abyssal. Something monstrous.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
The idyllic portrait of family life presented at the start of Coney's intimate and eerie debut novella is far too good to last, and it doesn't. Coney introduces a happy South Carolina family—mother, father, and boy, as they are known throughout—whose numbers grow first through the addition of a dog and then the arrival of the boy's mysterious grandfather. While the dog, Teach, named for the pirate Blackbeard (real name: Edward Teach), immediately becomes the boy's best friend, the grandfather's arrival throws the so-far perfect family out of alignment, as tensions mount between all members. A vivid backdrop of marshes, caves, and storm-swept beaches lends an air of the uncanny to the proceedings as the boy, on the brink of turning 12, discovers alarming, and perhaps supernatural, similarities developing between himself and his grandfather, alienating him from his parents. The result is both wrenching family drama and fantastical monster story, and though the climax feels a bit rushed, the exploration of blood ties and the nature of monstrosity resonate. Coney is a writer to watch.