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FANGirl Book Reviews: “DAPHNE” by Josh Malerman

Tuesday, August 16, 2022 | FANGirl Book Reviews

Release Date: September 20, 2022
Publisher: Del Rey Books


It’s hard to write a book review for DAPHNE when you’re trying hard not to think about Daphne.

A ghost story shared amongst team members of the high school basketball team reignites old terrors when a name that’s not supposed to be spoken – much less thought – suddenly becomes top of everyone’s mind. Their small town has been home to not just one serial killer but two. Decades ago, a seven-foot-tall, denim jacket-wearing, cigarette-smoking human monster abducted and ate children. She was eventually killed, but like so much else surrounding Daphne, it’s hard to know exactly the who or what or why of her story because the town seems to have collectively forced themselves to forget her. Of course, like any good creep show, Daphne attracted her fans – both the wacky kind and those scarily devout – but to summon the monster back from its crypt takes a very special kind of thinker: a baller.

As much as DAPHNE is a unique, killer slasher story (and it is, with all trimmings!), what makes Josh Malerman’s (Bird Box) newest so very Malerman is that he uses the monster’s core trick, that thinking about Daphne summons Daphne (and how the hell does one not think about the thing that they’re not supposed to be thinking about?), as an opportunity to make the story as much about surviving an unbeatable killer as it is coping with the real-life perils of anxiety. Here, then, Daphne is as much a monster of lore as she (it) is the very real terror that boils under the skin. After all, no one ever really escapes anxiety, we just learn how to manage it, cope with it and find a way to go on knowing it’s always waiting for us in the shadows. The titular character of Daphne is as much a monster as a moniker. She (it) is unavoidable. She (it) is unstoppable. She (it) lives, for lack of a better word, in the deepest, darkest corners of our minds, lingering at the edges of our thoughts, waiting to be remembered. Malerman gives shape to our anxieties, molding them into a looming monster while giving us the recipe for survival: Face your fears head-on.

Come for the slasher, stay for the lesson, folks.

“Daphne isn’t a “female Jason” any more than Jason is a “male Gorgon,” says author JoshMalerman. “She is her. Her is she. A 100 percent non-sexualized nightmare of a woman. And she shall be judged by the creativity of her kills and the body count in her wake!”

For someone that’s not supposed to be thought about, DAPHNE is a book that will stick in your mind long after you turn the last page. She’s waiting, she’s watching, but it’s no longer the rim that determines our fate – it’s us.

Click here to pre-order Josh Malerman’s DAPHNE.

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