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The Bright Lands (2020)

por John Fram

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1895146,848 (3.48)9
"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"--… (mais)
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Mostrando 5 de 5
Popular high school football players go missing without a trace. In a small town where football means everything, this is disturbing. Many say that they were last seen going to somewhere called the Bright Lands. No one knows this place, where it is, or what happens there. A brother, girlfriends, and sister investigate what happened to these missing players. This story, that suspensefully builds to its explosive climax, is worth reading. ( )
  tami317 | Aug 24, 2022 |
It’s an absolutely wonderfully told story with crime fiction mixed with horror straight out of your worse nightmares. My kind of book in every way possible. We visit the conservative Texas town of Bentley where the residents live, eat and breathe Friday night high school football. I’m not taking about being average ‘fan”…I’m taking about overwhelming, over-the –top obsession. They would do literally anything for the players and very soon they will get a chance that they never in their worse nightmare thought they’d ever have. Strange dreams and a sense of impending dread take over the people. When Joel begins to investigate his brother’s death he soon discovers that the town itself may be responsible. Dark secrets that never should have seen the light of day are soon revealed and Joel finds his life in jeopardy…but the question is…from what? It’s a tale with twisted narratives and a brutal look at the human condition. Loved it from the first page to the last. If you like dark mysteries with a hint of the supernatural thrown in…you will love this book also. ( )
  Carol420 | Aug 9, 2020 |
Joel Whitley reluctantly returns home after receiving a despairing text from his younger brother, although they have grown distant after his flight from the small-minded Texas town of his childhood. Having achieved professional and personal success, Joel feels guilty about abandoning his brother and wants to make amends by offering to pay for his college education. The Bright Lands, by John Fram begins with an introduction to a novel that seemingly will center around the obligations of family and the return of a prodigal son. What follows diverges from that common narrative, however, when the story tumbles down a path that includes a secret cabal and an evil presence. When Joel arrives in Bentley, he sees a town that is besieged by an economic downturn, still obsessed with the local football team on which all its hopes seem to rest. Dylan, Joel’s brother, is the golden boy QB who is revered by all and who bears the burden of the whole town’s expectations. Dylan desperately wants to quit the team, and hints that he is haunted by a deep secret. Before he gets the opportunity to reveal his thoughts to Joel, Dylan is found murdered. Joel pairs up with his ex-girlfriend, now a sheriff’s deputy, to discover why his brother was killed and what he was hiding. They discover that there may be a link between past disappearances of young men in Bentley and Dylan’s death. Clandestine meetings of the town’s elite may also be tied to superstitions of a dark and sinister entity that is rumored to inhabit the wastelands on its borders. The Bright Lands becomes overly ambitious with this inclusion of supernatural elements, and the monstrous presence is superfluous and distracting in a book that already has a surplus of characters and plotlines. The novel also contains awkward moments with some clunky dialog incorporating canned and crass expressions that seem designed only for shock value. Fram should be lauded, however, for his creativity and a refreshing portrayal of openly gay characters. He frames the discrimination Joel experiences with that also faced by other marginalized characters that are mistreated due to their race, class and gender. These topics would have been sufficiently absorbing to capture readers’ interest without a needless foray into a more obvious, literal form of horror.

Thanks to the author, Hanover Square Press and Edelweiss for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. ( )
  jnmegan | Jul 23, 2020 |
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. ( )
1 vote KinzieThings | Jun 16, 2020 |
This novel had a lot going for it. Football in Texas is big and this had the feel of another Friday Night Lights story with a compelling mystery thrown in. When one of the key players is found murdered, the entire football team, as well as a few others, were cast as likely suspects.

As much as I was enjoying the mystery, other parts of the book were so off-putting that I began to dread reading it. These players and this small town were nothing like what I grew up around in Texas. Every town has secrets, but this town has secrets on steroids.

Heavy drug use, homosexual activities, paranormal elements, bad language and disreputable characters filled the pages and fueled the secrets. This book pretty much lost me at some point after the halfway mark when the sexually explicit details and the paranormal elements came into play. I’m sure there are readers who will like this book, but it just wasn’t for me. I think this would have made a great story if the author had simply written it as a murder mystery.

Thank you NetGalley and Hanover Square Press for allowing me to read an advance copy and give my honest review. ( )
  tamidale | Jun 3, 2020 |
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"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"--

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