REVIEW: The Bright Lands by John Fram

The Official Description: 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.

Just the facts: LGBTQ content, great mystery, frightening, and engaging. Strong female characters.

A missing little brother, eerie voices, nightmares… a web of secrets so thick and sticky it’s caught up an entire town and its past.  – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: This is one of those books that makes review writing a tricky business. “The Bright Lands” by John Fram is a solid, engaging, frightening, and bizarre book and I loved it. I will endeavor to give you a feel for what this book is like without giving away the great surprises and twists that are in it!

Joel Whitley fled his home town and didn’t look back… until the night he gets an accidental text from his younger brother. With just one text, Dylan hints that he too is finding Bentley, Texas to be a challenging place to live. But it shouldn’t be like that. Dylan is young, handsome, the quarterback on the football team, and dating a gorgeous cheerleader. His life should be great, it should be much better than the life Joel has escaped.

Joel decides that it’s time to step up and help out his brother. He is more than settled financially and can help Dylan with his future. He travels back to his home town and it’s almost like going back in time. Nothing much has changed… the bright lights of the football field still call the townspeople together to celebrate one of the most important things in their world. Football is pretty much everything in Bentley.

Shortly after Joel arrives back home, his younger brother Dylan disappears. Joel promises his mother he will get to the bottom of what has happened and things just spiral down from there.

This is a really eerie story. Farm has a great style of writing. The pacing is great and there are stiletto punches of reveals that take your breath away. I read this in two days because every time I thought I had found a spot to put it down… something else would happen and I had to keep reading. It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel because it’s such a solid story!

The characters are well developed and all the way through I could sense my brain trying to put the pieces together to sort out the mystery but I just couldn’t pull it off! I was locked into the plot from the moment Joel got a series of painful texts from his brother. I’ve given nothing away… and that’s intentional. If you like horror… suspense…drama… you’ll love this book.

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) extreme violence, gunshots, suicidal ideation, descriptions of people being killed, frightening scenes throughout, vomiting, beating, homophobia, sexual abuse of minors, sexual assault in the past of one character, descriptions of dead bodies, drug use

Links: Goodreads // The Author // The Publisher

I received an ARC of The Bright Lands by John Fram from Hanover Square Press via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.


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