An anxious man and his young daughter are on the road in a stolen car. She cradles a shoebox full of bird's eggs. She saved them after the birds disappeared. As the girl sleeps, the father recalls the events that led them to this point. We find out about Wanderer's Folly, a disease that causes delusions and eventually murderous and/or suicidal outbursts. We find that his wife held a key to a possible cure, and that the doctors and scientists used her up, leaving a husk that died in a hospital room, that was when the doctors set their sights on his daughter, Ellie. That was when David Arlen fled.
Making their way out west, where David hopes to connect with his wayward brother, the pair encounter a few groups of survivors. The promise of acceptance and settling down and safety always tenuous and rarely a truth. The road is slick with tears and blood and paved in double-crosses and unease. Still, they make their way and in doing so discover that the possible key that Ellie holds is much broader and stronger than a possible cure for the Folly, it could be a cure all.
Malfi spins us a yarn that is loaded with sadness and tragedy. Every ounce of suffering beads up and smears the pages. These people have been through the wringer and always seem to end up on the ropes again and again. Fenced in by paranoia and legitimate fear, their world is perilous and harrowing. I've been a fan of Malfi's work for some time but I think this is his strongest work yet. He really channels some heartfelt sadness here, the kind you can't fake and lays it all out for you to read.
The Night Parade is available from Kensington Books