The Bright Lands
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.

The Bright Lands Details

TitleThe Bright Lands
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 7th, 2020
PublisherHanover Square Press
ISBN-139781335836625
Rating
GenreHorror, LGBT, Fiction, Mystery

The Bright Lands Review

  • Chelsea Humphrey
    January 1, 1970
    Teetering between a 4-5 star ratingOh ok, I see you John Fram. Review to come.*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
  • Dennis
    January 1, 1970
    The Bright Lands is hands down one of the best debut novels that I've ever read. This Stephen King meets Grindr horror novel will exceed any of your expectations. Surrounding small Texan town Bentley, there lies a secret hidden deep within the town's history. Joel Whitley, a former resident of the town, has moved to New York to start his life over after growing up with the homophobic ridicule that he received as a teenager. His life isn't perfect, but as an adult he has been able to use that The Bright Lands is hands down one of the best debut novels that I've ever read. This Stephen King meets Grindr horror novel will exceed any of your expectations. Surrounding small Texan town Bentley, there lies a secret hidden deep within the town's history. Joel Whitley, a former resident of the town, has moved to New York to start his life over after growing up with the homophobic ridicule that he received as a teenager. His life isn't perfect, but as an adult he has been able to use that shame and mask it with money, beauty, and a whole new life that is completely different from the one he had as a child. One night, his younger high school aged brother, Dylan text messages him in trouble. Joel is quick to see that there's some type of dilemma that his brother is struggling with and decides to take a flight back home to check in on him. When Joel arrives to Bentley, he realizes that the town has hardly changed in their social acceptance towards anyone that is deemed "other". Dylan, however, is the star quarterback for the Bisons (the town's team and mascot). Dylan is attractive and popular and basically the town's celebrity—why would Dylan need help from his older brother? Soon after Joel gets his footing in Bentley, his brother vanishes without a trace. The town is in turmoil after their golden boy disappears and Joel feels responsible. As Joel begins to search for his brother, he reconnects with a person from his past that opens up old wounds. The duo notice that the there's an underlying secret masking this town and whatever it is, has something to do with Dylan's disappearance.I feel like I gave you too much information, but then I realized from the synopsis that I did not. This book is thiccccc at almost 500 pages, but I read the book in two days because I was completely addicted. The writing is very easy to get lost into and it's definitely a fast-paced book. I was buddying reading this book with my book pal Chelsea, and was only supposed to read a few chapters to see how it was. WRONG MOVE—I continued to read hours later. #Oops. That being said, The Bright Lands is reminiscent of Stephen King as in that there's a supernatural element in the book, but hardly too much where it takes you to the realm of unbelievability. I fell in love with so many characters in this book. So many of them were relatable to me—even as a kid growing up on Long Island. Without spoiling anything, there's quite a few characters that hit close to home for me. As you read, you'll think you know what's going to develop, but I'm telling you now that you will have no idea. When I began reading this book:-I questioned where all the gay was.-I believed that the mystery would be easy to find out.-I didn't understand why a book would be this long for a mystery.I WAS WRONG ON ALL ACCOUNTS. This book has plenty of gay; the mystery is very, very difficult to just come up on your own, so good luck trying to figure it out; and the length of the book was important because it showed the mystery behind the people and town of Bentley appropriately. In fact, I want more! Long story short, The Bright Lands is definitely a contender for my top 10 books for 2020 and I can't wait to see what you all think of it. John Fram, congratulations on your first novel.
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  • Tucker
    January 1, 1970
    well, the author described himself as "Stephen Queen" so you know...| Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram
  • Isabel • The Crime Bookshelf
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 STARS. Thank you so much to John Fram and Hanover Square Press for the gifted ARC of THE BRIGHT LANDS! WOW this was such a fantastic debut novel 🙌 If you guys love amazing and spooky character driven novels, you definitely need to check this one out when it releases JULY 7th!My favorite thing about this book was how real the story and characters felt. This book did an amazing job at fleshing out all of the characters and making them feel so realistic and relatable 👌 I also really enjoyed how 4.5 STARS. Thank you so much to John Fram and Hanover Square Press for the gifted ARC of THE BRIGHT LANDS! WOW this was such a fantastic debut novel 🙌🏼 If you guys love amazing and spooky character driven novels, you definitely need to check this one out when it releases JULY 7th!⁣My favorite thing about this book was how real the story and characters felt. This book did an amazing job at fleshing out all of the characters and making them feel so realistic and relatable 👌🏼 I also really enjoyed how deep this story was and it was surprisingly very emotional at times. This was my first LGBTQ thriller/horror and I was fully obsessed with it 🙌🏼🖤⁣⁣Another thing I really loved about this book was how creepy it was 😱 There were so many scenes that truly creeped me out, which I thoroughly enjoyed! This book was the perfect blend of nail-biting suspense and horror, which made it such an incredible read 🤓 I also loved the ending because it was actual INSANITY and it was everything I hoped it would be. ⁣⁣The only *minor* issue I really had with this book was that I couldn’t fully connect to some parts of the story due to the football aspect, but that didn’t affect my overall rating or enjoyment of the book much! I HIGHLY recommend this book to you guys and you need to preorder this book ASAP if you haven’t already 🙌🏼⁣⁣TRIGGERS: Homophobic Slurs, Sexual Assault, Suicide⁣
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  • Vonda
    January 1, 1970
    This story is Friday Night Lights redux horror style. The book was written like a YA with unneeded overdone cuss words. There were sex scenes that were too intense and wasn't warranted for this story, on that basis it was written like erotica, which I have never read. It was everywhere and never quite sure what it wanted to be.
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  • P.J. Vernon
    January 1, 1970
    Fram has delivered a powerhouse of a debut that is certain to be one of the year's most bracing thrillers. Unapologetic in its queerness, cruelty and heart, The Bright Lands will sink its teeth into you.
  • James
    January 1, 1970
    "Im going to make a bold statement, and I promise you its not hyperbole: with The Bright Lands John Fram has written a better Stephen King novel than King himself has in over a decade. I know, I know; but hear me out"Read my review in full at whatjamesread.comFollow @whatjamesread on Instagram. "I’m going to make a bold statement, and I promise you it’s not hyperbole: with The Bright Lands John Fram has written a better Stephen King novel than King himself has in over a decade. I know, I know; but hear me out…"Read my review in full at whatjamesread.comFollow @whatjamesread on Instagram.
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  • Donna Hines
    January 1, 1970
    How is this a debut? Let me catch my breath and say,"This is golden!I've never been more consumed by an ARC like this one in which I lost track of time and not just my norm 2 hrs but literally double that time & as a speed reader that's huge!I hadn't even known this was a different genre than what I usually read which is thriller till after I received the request & went to check out the prologue.Folks, this blew me away and those who know me good should know I rarely jot tons of notes How is this a debut? Let me catch my breath and say,"This is golden!I've never been more consumed by an ARC like this one in which I lost track of time and not just my norm 2 hrs but literally double that time & as a speed reader that's huge!I hadn't even known this was a different genre than what I usually read which is thriller till after I received the request & went to check out the prologue.Folks, this blew me away and those who know me good should know I rarely jot tons of notes unless it's a valuable read that goes above and beyond.This went there to that land in the middle of nowhere TEXAS and as we all know everything is BIGGER in Texas.Fear not the flats are a great place to hide out but hell this was more than a hideout this was like Madden taking on Goliath with body blows coming from all sides.Bentley isn't just a fancy souped up car it's also the location of the action.It's a conservative joint -a place that made Joel feel like an outsider- not comfortable in his own skin.Hell even his own brother couldn't be protected and that for him was horrific. He wants and desperately needs answers.Could the town be holding back crucial pieces of evidence? The walls aren't talking but the classmates are and it's going down!Darkness rises, nightmares prosper, gold ain't in them hills but money might be, and drugs seem to be the hit of this party.Beyond the horizon is a flicker of light- boys will be boys- but these boys came to do more than just play, drink, party, and have a good time.It's an oath-it's like a fraternity-the old v the new.Money is changing hands, drugs too, but the ultimate is the adventures that are the scariest.Could Dylan's disappearance have something to do with jealousy, a payback, a scheme, a heist, or worse to pay a debt he had to sacrifice; give up something valuable in return?I'm not familiar with some of the lingo as I'm old school but Grindr is a well known app for gays and it's been known to be a hot spot for activity in this case.What's worse is the evidence is mounting and trickling in slow and steady with each new twister.Sure the dust flies, the bullets whiz, the sound of gunfire can be heard, but that crackle of the arsenal is the least of their worries.Sworn to secrecy, bound by blood, a place known to hide the truths and bury them alive.So many players in action that's too many to name but suffice to say everyone is in on this one.In fact, you'd be hard pressed to not find anyone who might not know some connection to the boys, the team, the coaches, those in trusted positions of authority like the police and detectives involved.What's more maddening is the fact that Joel has to put his neck on the line to get the truths.Peculiar boys. Harmless? Who simply need a place to empty , to relax, to kick back, and then head back to their alternate lives with wife, kids, bosses, and teammates.I can tell you this, "All the boys wanted a piece of Dylan."Having knowledge of a 'special trailer' was like music to the ears of many.What if you could be boyfriends FOREVER! SWEET JESUS!It's that take it to the grave feel. The danger lurks. The birds chirp or was that monsters? Well, you get my drift. This was wild, crazy, emotionally draining but worth the extra 4 hours of pure bliss.What a masterpiece. What a gem. How is this a debut? WOW!!!I'd give it 10 if I could but can only offer 5 -This deserves a Literary Award!
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.Ok, let me first say that when I requested this book, I was binging Friday Night Lights and I didnt exactly read the full synopsis. I saw football and Texas and secrets and that was enough for me. The Bright Lands ended up being much different than I was expecting. It wasnt exactly the kind of book I usually go for, but the characters made me keep reading.This review is going to be short because most of my thoughts on I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.Ok, let me first say that when I requested this book, I was binging Friday Night Lights and I didn’t exactly read the full synopsis. I saw football and Texas and secrets and that was enough for me. The Bright Lands ended up being much different than I was expecting. It wasn’t exactly the kind of book I usually go for, but the characters made me keep reading.This review is going to be short because most of my thoughts on the plot would be full of spoilers. So what can I actually say? The story was told through multiple points of view and I think those were well done. It really moved the story along and I was invested in all the characters. Early on in the story I wasn’t sure if this was a book I wanted to finish, but the characters kept me going. I expected a small town mystery, but there were definite Horror vibes, too. Horror is not really my genre, so take it with a grain of salt when I say it made me take a lot of things way less seriously than I otherwise would have. There are also major themes of hypocrisy and homophobia, along with a lot of drugs, violence, assault, pedophilia, and demons (some metaphorical, one real). We spend most of the book waiting to find out what the mysterious Bright Lands are and while I did come to have my suspicions, it ended up being another eye rolling disappointment.Overall, The Bright Lands wasn’t really for me. I didn’t appreciate the horror aspects and the overall tone of resentment and regret made me a little more depressed during already depressing times (though you can also take that as a compliment to the writing, I guess). I did really like the multiple POVs and was invested in the characters, though. While the story itself wasn’t really my cup of tea, I think there are a lot of readers out there that will enjoy this one a lot more than I did.Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars
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  • Becky Spratford
    January 1, 1970
    Reading for June issue of Library JournalHomage to Bentley LittleLGBTQ own voices.
  • Rick
    January 1, 1970
    The Bright Lands is a fictional novel about a football town with a huge secret. Joel Whitley is shamed into escaping from the homophobic town of Bentley TX to live in New York City only to find that after 10 years incommunicado he must return to help his brother. This is the debut novel by John Fram.Joel Whitley has a successful career in New York, but he feels unfulfilled. He leads a drug fueled life that helps him forget his roots in Bentley Texas. Then Dylan his brother, sends him mysterious The Bright Lands is a fictional novel about a football town with a huge secret. Joel Whitley is shamed into escaping from the homophobic town of Bentley TX to live in New York City only to find that after 10 years incommunicado he must return to help his brother. This is the debut novel by John Fram.Joel Whitley has a successful career in New York, but he feels unfulfilled. He leads a drug fueled life that helps him forget his roots in Bentley Texas. Then Dylan his brother, sends him mysterious text saying he wants out of Bentley and Joel decides to help. After the brothers have a brief visit Dylan disappears and 2 days later his body is found. Joel starts his own investigation which leads him to the Bright Lands where things really spiral out of control. Town secrets are exposed and supernatural influences threaten to end them all. I truly enjoy the mystery associated with the murder, the chase and the resolution. The reveal is action packed and satisfying. The story is fast paced and for the most part well written.I am, however, too often distracted by the language used by absolutely everyone. For me it interferes with the flow and often makes the speaker appear to be illiterate. I am also distracted by the sexual deviancy which appears to be pervasive in the football culture of this town. Finally, although I may not be qualified to comment, I do not feel that the gay culture and relationships are fairly represented.The supernatural element needs to be explained. Is supernatural control the reason for the strange behavior among the football players and management? Why is the entire town dreaming? This is not touched upon. If it is more clearly explained it may help me accept aspects of the book that I feel are a distraction.I give it a 3 on 5 because the mystery is well developed with the caveat that language and deviancy are a distraction. I want to thank Net Galley and Harlequin Trade Publishing for providing me with a digital copy of the novel in exchange for a fair review
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  • Ludwig
    January 1, 1970
    In The Bright Lands, Joe joins his ex-girlfriend Deputy Clark to find out what happened to his brother Dylan, whos the star quarterback of the soccer team. The story takes place in a small Texas town, Bentley, where football is a big priority. I enjoyed this murder mystery! Its slow-paced in some parts but keeps surprising you at every turn. Chilling and jaw-dropping at times with a slew of horror scenes, and emotionally-charged during others. Well-executed, with great writing. A fascinating In The Bright Lands, Joe joins his ex-girlfriend Deputy Clark to find out what happened to his brother Dylan, who’s the star quarterback of the soccer team. The story takes place in a small Texas town, Bentley, where football is a big priority. I enjoyed this murder mystery! It’s slow-paced in some parts but keeps surprising you at every turn. Chilling and jaw-dropping at times with a slew of horror scenes, and emotionally-charged during others. Well-executed, with great writing. A fascinating debut!
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  • Jamie beauty_andthebook_
    January 1, 1970
    John Fram has busted onto the horror/thriller scene in 2020 with a stellar debut - The Bright Lands is a thrill ride with lots of small town football drama (think Friday Night Lights with disappearances and murder) that will hook you from page one. Told in alternating perspectives with crisp writing, this fast paced thriller is a bingeworthy read that will have people buzzing when it is released in June. I can't wait to read more from this new voice in the future.Thank you to Hanover Square John Fram has busted onto the horror/thriller scene in 2020 with a stellar debut - The Bright Lands is a thrill ride with lots of small town football drama (think Friday Night Lights with disappearances and murder) that will hook you from page one. Told in alternating perspectives with crisp writing, this fast paced thriller is a bingeworthy read that will have people buzzing when it is released in June. I can't wait to read more from this new voice in the future.Thank you to Hanover Square Press for an advanced copy. All opinions are my own.
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  • Mandy McHugh
    January 1, 1970
    This was high up on my TBR, and I was thrilled to receive an eARC from Harlequin and NetGalley in exchange for review consideration.Let me start by saying: The Bright Lands is an exceptional read. Raised in a football town, in a football family, I hadn't found a sports-centric thriller that resonated on so many levels--until The Bright Lands.Joel Whitley returns to his conservative hometown when his younger brother reaches out for help. Plagued by memories of his own experiences in Bentley, Joel This was high up on my TBR, and I was thrilled to receive an eARC from Harlequin and NetGalley in exchange for review consideration.Let me start by saying: The Bright Lands is an exceptional read. Raised in a football town, in a football family, I hadn't found a sports-centric thriller that resonated on so many levels--until The Bright Lands.Joel Whitley returns to his conservative hometown when his younger brother reaches out for help. Plagued by memories of his own experiences in Bentley, Joel plans on getting Dylan out before something terrible happens. Unfortunately, things don't happen that way, and Joel is thrust into a decades-old mystery with supernatural implications. I mean--I don't know where to begin. From the characters to the pacing, Fram's writing is engaging and consuming. Each narrative voice is rich and well-developed. Much like Derry or The Stanley Hotel, the town of Bentley becomes a character in and of itself, sliding slowly away to reveal a grotesque underbelly of grudges, racism, and hatred of anyone who doesn't fit into the "football-way-of-life" mold. This book encompasses so many relevant topics: complex family dynamics. Drugs. Sex. Religion. Sexuality. The pressures kids face on a daily basis with no outlet. And on top of that is a horrific element of the beast. Both symbolic and real, Fram highlights how the dark motivations people keep hidden can manifest in truly terrifying ways with resounding consequences. The Bright Lands should be on your must-read list of 2020. Astounding.
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  • Joyce
    January 1, 1970
    4 starsHigh School football is king in small town Texas. Joel Whitley returns to Bentley following an absence of ten years when he was more or less driven out of town. Now living very successfully in New York, his brother Dylan asks for his help. Joel is still haunted by memories of Bentley, but returns to help his brother. Dylan is the star quarterback of his high school football team. They appear to be headed to state, but Dylan no longer wants to play. When tragedy strikes the Whitley family, 4 starsHigh School football is king in small town Texas. Joel Whitley returns to Bentley following an absence of ten years when he was more or less driven out of town. Now living very successfully in New York, his brother Dylan asks for his help. Joel is still haunted by memories of Bentley, but returns to help his brother. Dylan is the star quarterback of his high school football team. They appear to be headed to state, but Dylan no longer wants to play. When tragedy strikes the Whitley family, Joel teams up with ex-girlfriend and adversary Sheriff's Deputy Starsha Clark to ferret out the hidden secrets and the truth of what happened. This is a very well written and plotted novel. It is a very good effort for a first novel. I see good things in Mr. Fram's future. The book has a Friday Night Lights feeling to it, especially in the beginning. But there the comparison ends. This is a mystery – and more. It examines small town America, the attitudes and close knit communities – for good or ill. Well done! I want to thank NetGalley and Harlequin - Trade Publishing US & Canada/Hanover Square Press for forwarding to me a copy of this very good book for me to read, enjoy and review.
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  • Johnna Whetstone
    January 1, 1970
    Wow, this book blew me away. It was definitely dark, disturbing, but absolutely unputdownable. The characters were so amazingly developed I find myself needing more answers and having a tough time putting it down, because I had to finish and know more. Highly recommend to those who are okay with disturbing content, which might be triggering to some. I think its also original and realistic, as I see even in our small town, just want that need to be part of football and to protect those in it Wow, this book blew me away. It was definitely dark, disturbing, but absolutely unputdownable. The characters were so amazingly developed I find myself needing more answers and having a tough time putting it down, because I had to finish and know more. Highly recommend to those who are okay with disturbing content, which might be triggering to some. I think it’s also original and realistic, as I see even in our small town, just want that need to be part of football and to protect those in it does! Well written, intense, chilling, and absolutely shocking, with that unputdownable pull only some books give! Will make sure to buzz it around the different platforms!
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  • emma
    January 1, 1970
    I received a galley of this book from NetGalley and Hanover Square Press in exchange for my honest review. This in no way affected my review of this book!I was absolutely and completely blown away by this book. I cannot believe it is John Frams debut novel because it was so stellar and attention grabbing. I did not want to put this book down, especially for the second half.This book centers around Joel Whitley, who has returned to his hometown of a small Texas town after 11 years after he was I received a galley of this book from NetGalley and Hanover Square Press in exchange for my honest review. This in no way affected my review of this book!I was absolutely and completely blown away by this book. I cannot believe it is John Fram’s debut novel because it was so stellar and attention grabbing. I did not want to put this book down, especially for the second half.This book centers around Joel Whitley, who has returned to his hometown of a small Texas town after 11 years after he was unceremoniously outed through a scandal and left the anti-gay town, because he is getting mysterious texts from his younger brother, Dylan, about wanting to quit the football team, surprising coming from the star quarterback. Not really a surprise, but when Joel returns to town, Dylan goes missing and turns up dead a few days later.This really hit home for me because I am also from Texas (not a very conservative small town, but the most conservative county in a very conservative state nonetheless), I am bi, and I now live in Brooklyn. I also have a younger brother who still lives in Texas. I completely related to Joel on so many aspects of his life and personality and while he has lived a very different life from me in many respects, I felt connected to him on a very deep level, and that certainly helped my love of and deep understanding of the protagonist of this book.The mystery of this book begins when Joel receives the first text and it doesn’t stop until you are in the climax of the novel. Even then, there is still mystery after mystery being uncovered throughout the big, intense climax, and I could not believe all of the things that this book put me through, emotion and stress wise. About 40% of the way into this book is the first big twist and they, quite literally, do not stop coming from there until the end of the book. The premise, dialogue, characterization, imagery, narration, everything about this book is utterly fantastic.The characters are one of the book’s strongest points. Joel is a great narrator and seeing his shifting arc throughout the book was so gratifying and well written. Starsha Clark, the deuteragonist, was a great character as well. Clark is a cop who stayed in Bentley, their small town, who also used to date Joel in high school and was obviously very hurt when the scandal occurred way back when. They work really well together throughout the book and it was great getting to see their developing relationship, knowing that they had a tumultuous past. One of my favorite parts of the book was getting perspectives of the high school characters as well. Bethany (Dylan’s girlfriend), Jamal (Dylan’s best friend), Kimbra (a cheerleader with Bethany and the girlfriend of an important character, KT), and Luke (a football player and Dylan’s ex-best friend from middle school) all had multiple narration chapters throughout the book and it was honestly one of my favorite parts of the book. Learning about what they knew about the mystery, what they didn’t know, and getting information revealed through their narration was such a smart move and it made for such an interesting and exciting read.One of the most intriguing parts of this book was the maybe supernatural element. Throughout the book, I wasn’t quite sure if there actually was something supernatural going on, or if it was all some deeper metaphor, but during the climax, I think I really understood that the supernatural element was intrinsic to the town of Bentley, to the homophobia, to the most important aspects of this book. It made for a very Stephen King-esque twist that just made this book all the more interesting.I didn’t want to put this book down once I hit the first big twist of the book, like I mentioned. I mean, I was reading this in every spare minute I had—on the subway, (of course), as I was walking to the train stations, during my lunch breaks, during our 10 minute breaks during long classes, waiting at a restaurant for my roommate to show up. I finished this book with bated breath and I didn’t want it to end. I am still blown away that this was the debut novel of the author because it did not feel like that at all.I am seriously recommending this book to everyone. I hate that it doesn’t come out until July because I would buy a copy now and lend it to everyone I know until they read it and could talk about it with me. The combination of a few different genres left me very excited to see what else this author is going to have in store in the future, because if the writing, characters, and plot are anything like this book, I am going to be racing to buy it in the future, just like everyone should be doing with this book. If you have the means and chance to request a galley and read it before the book comes out, you should do it, and then you should message me so we can talk about it. Anyone who is a fan of mysteries, thrillers, supernatural books, books with multiple POVs, LGBT+ books... anyone who is a fan of reading should read this book. I cannot recommend it enough.Rating: 5 stars
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  • Janet
    January 1, 1970
    Apparently my reviews (and Goodreads profile) are causing people to nastily tell me that I am themost-stupid person on the planet. Life is too short without humour and YOU ARE ALL TOASTER-STRUDEL-MEAN-GIRLS. #mikedropWhen life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is closed and you are in #COVID19 #socialisolation, superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book and many more Apparently my reviews (and Goodreads profile) are causing people to nastily tell me that I am themost-stupid person on the planet. Life is too short without humour and YOU ARE ALL TOASTER-STRUDEL-MEAN-GIRLS. #mikedropWhen life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is closed and you are in #COVID19 #socialisolation, superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. (I have played a "zillion games" of scrabble, done a "zillion crosswords" and I AM BORED!!!)I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.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.I swear that I have read this book before - or at least one with a very familiar Texas/football/secrets/shame plotline. That said, this version of this story was MORE than I expected. I expected it to be a bit more of a "woe is me" kind of plotline but it was a really dark novel. Shockingly dark. It went to places I never expected it to - I don't want to say more as it will give it away but I will say that the book is expertly crafted with well-fleshed out characters and it was very dark and very suspenseful - it was like a roller coaster ride in the pages of a book. Even if you HATE sports as much as I do, you would enjoy this book- read it.As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🏈🏈🏈🏈
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  • Claire Wilkins
    January 1, 1970
    A dark, sometimes scary mystery in a small town called Bentley in a remote area of Texas. And as many small towns do, they have a sports team that the whole town demands exceptional performance. In Bentley it is football. Dylan Whitney is the superstar of the team. One day he sends his brother Joel a message that he wants to get out of Bentley. Joel had left the town 10 years previously in disgrace after photos of him nude had surfaced, letting everyone know he was gay. He hadnt talked to his A dark, sometimes scary mystery in a small town called Bentley in a remote area of Texas. And as many small towns do, they have a sports team that the whole town demands exceptional performance. In Bentley it is football. Dylan Whitney is the superstar of the team. One day he sends his brother Joel a message that he wants to get out of Bentley. Joel had left the town 10 years previously in disgrace after photos of him nude had surfaced, letting everyone know he was gay. He hadn’t talked to his brother in 10 years, he felt guilty, he was now a self-made prosperous man, so he decided it was time to help Dylan.Joel flew from his place in New York, back to his family home, he watched his brother play football, but then....his brother disappears. Joel hooked up with his old girlfriend Clark the Sheriff, determined to find out what had happened, despite the awful treatment he often received from many of the citizens.To find out what happened next you need to read this well written page turner. There are many well developed characters, and I found it quite difficult to figure out who and what they were all up to. Also there are the dreams, and the ‘Beast’.! It will certainly keep you guessing until the end. An end quite like none other!
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  • Janai Cornwell
    January 1, 1970
    The Bright Lands 3.75/5 StarsThe Vibe: Stephen King meets Grindr meets Friday Night Lights meets Agatha Christie Whodunit!Review: This book is SO WELL WRITTEN. The story takes place over the course of a week and keeps a good pace overall (not too many lulls). I really enjoyed the accurate portrayal of small town USA, toxic masculinity and the harm that it can inflict on everyone. This book held my attention and was totally enthralling and enjoyable. I did get turned around a few times due to the The Bright Lands 3.75/5 Stars•The Vibe: Stephen King meets Grindr meets Friday Night Lights meets Agatha Christie Whodunit!•Review: This book is SO WELL WRITTEN. The story takes place over the course of a week and keeps a good pace overall (not too many lulls). I really enjoyed the accurate portrayal of small town USA, toxic masculinity and the harm that it can inflict on everyone. This book held my attention and was totally enthralling and enjoyable. I did get turned around a few times due to the extensive number of POVs and characters. There were a couple of times where I confused characters or forgot who was who and what they knew. I’m not a big sci-fi fan, so I didn’t care for that element, but that was not accounted for in my rating. I’m rating this 3.75 stars personally, but would definitely recommend to any Stephen King or sci-fi thriller fans! Bravo, John Fram!
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  •  Reading Reindeer
    January 1, 1970
    Oh my! This debut novel hit it out of the ballpark! Or considering the focus sport: threw a touchdown into the End Zone. I read with excitement, enthrallment--and a whole lot of trepidation, because I just KNEW something terrible was about to happen--and of course, something did, and has, and will. Little, economically-depressed, Bentley, Texas--the town under the shadow of empty, unowned Flatlands [could there be a location in America where the property is not owned by "someone"?], the town Oh my! This debut novel hit it out of the ballpark! Or considering the focus sport: threw a touchdown into the End Zone. I read with excitement, enthrallment--and a whole lot of trepidation, because I just KNEW something terrible was about to happen--and of course, something did, and has, and will. Little, economically-depressed, Bentley, Texas--the town under the shadow of empty, unowned Flatlands [could there be a location in America where the property is not owned by "someone"?], the town that gives an entirely new Sinister meaning to the overworked phrase "Friday night lights," is not a town where any sane person should live. Nor anyone in any way divergent. Just reading about this town brings out the screams, the shudders, and the nightmares.
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  • Lyndi
    January 1, 1970
    Friday Night Lights meets Stephen King-like horror in this debut novel. Joel Whitley returns to his hometown to rescue his brother after he sends a desperate text. Joel was run out of town after years of homophobic ridicule by the football team and fans. But Dylan never comes home and shortly after is found murdered. Strange things start happening, whispers in the ears, and dreams shared by several townspeople. There is an unknown evil just waiting for its next victim.The storyline was good, but Friday Night Lights meets Stephen King-like horror in this debut novel. Joel Whitley returns to his hometown to rescue his brother after he sends a desperate text. Joel was run out of town after years of homophobic ridicule by the football team and fans. But Dylan never comes home and shortly after is found murdered. Strange things start happening, whispers in the ears, and dreams shared by several townspeople. There is an unknown evil just waiting for its next victim.The storyline was good, but I thought this book dragged on in the middle a lot longer than it needed to. A lot more curse words and awkward sex scenes than necessary as well. I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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  • Kristen Beverly
    January 1, 1970
    When Joel moves away from his small hometown in Texas, he expected to never go back. But after his brother and star football player, Dylan, texts him sounding distressed, he decides to go see him face to face. But when he arrives, Dylan has mysteriously disappeared. He knows the police department wont be much help, so he decides to investigate himself. The story is told with alternating narrators, which means that we got to see several scenes from multiple point of views, which was really When Joel moves away from his small hometown in Texas, he expected to never go back. But after his brother and star football player, Dylan, texts him sounding distressed, he decides to go see him face to face. But when he arrives, Dylan has mysteriously disappeared. He knows the police department won’t be much help, so he decides to investigate himself. The story is told with alternating narrators, which means that we got to see several scenes from multiple point of views, which was really interesting and fun. And it is very action packed, which made the pacing perfect. It was a perfect pool read for today! Highly recommended for fans of Stranger Things, Friday Night Lights, mystery and horror novels.
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  • Don
    January 1, 1970
    Releases in July 2020, I read an advanced reader copy. I read the beginning and then stopped because it didnt click with me. Then I saw it was a Library Journal best debut for 2020, so went back and picked up on it. The writing itself is very good and the story line about small town Texas, high school football, and a murder mystery were all good. The addition of a supernatural element was unnecessary and not very well executed...the story just didnt need it. Then, the last section or climax was Releases in July 2020, I read an advanced reader copy. I read the beginning and then stopped because it didn’t click with me. Then I saw it was a Library Journal best debut for 2020, so went back and picked up on it. The writing itself is very good and the story line about small town Texas, high school football, and a murder mystery were all good. The addition of a supernatural element was unnecessary and not very well executed...the story just didn’t need it. Then, the last section or climax was cliche erotica in part...again just not needed. A strong story was made weak by superfluous content.
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  • Tim
    January 1, 1970
    John Fram has written an excellent debut novel. From the first page, I was hooked. Joel Whitley, the main character, returns to his small hometown in Texas. I could immediately relate since I come from a small homophobic southern town. The book quickly becomes a mystery with well developed side characters. By the end of the book, the reader is invested in these characters. It is a page-turner. The book can be categorized as a mystery/thriller/supernatural. I love that it is unabashedly queer. John Fram has written an excellent debut novel. From the first page, I was hooked. Joel Whitley, the main character, returns to his small hometown in Texas. I could immediately relate since I come from a small homophobic southern town. The book quickly becomes a mystery with well developed side characters. By the end of the book, the reader is invested in these characters. It is a page-turner. The book can be categorized as a mystery/thriller/supernatural. I love that it is unabashedly queer. Hurray John Fram for bringing this book to us readers. There are trigger warnings for violence, sex, and strong language. Thank you, NetGalley for providing the advanced reader’s copy.
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  • Beck
    January 1, 1970
    This book had two things I really enjoy reading about: Sports and secrets.While growing up in a very conservative town, Joel had to hide who he was. He couldn't completely be himself until he rid himself of Bentley. Finally escaping Bentley, he's pulled back in when there is a disappearance. Having no other choice but to immerse himself back into the tight high-collared town, he goes back. . .This was an absolutely gripping book. I couldn't put it down. I'd recommend this to anyone who likes a This book had two things I really enjoy reading about: Sports and secrets.While growing up in a very conservative town, Joel had to hide who he was. He couldn't completely be himself until he rid himself of Bentley. Finally escaping Bentley, he's pulled back in when there is a disappearance. Having no other choice but to immerse himself back into the tight high-collared town, he goes back. . .This was an absolutely gripping book. I couldn't put it down. I'd recommend this to anyone who likes a book about secrets and identity issues. Recommended!
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  • Jennifer Iseler
    January 1, 1970
    (4.5 stars) WOW. Not in a million years did I expect that ending! The sci-fi, horror element of the story really kicks in at the end and it will knock you off your feet. You also wont be able to put the book down. The suspense and mystery is captivating throughout. Frams writing is fierce, vivid and downright terrifying. (4.5 stars) WOW. Not in a million years did I expect that ending! The sci-fi, horror element of the story really kicks in at the end and it will knock you off your feet. You also won’t be able to put the book down. The suspense and mystery is captivating throughout. Fram’s writing is fierce, vivid and downright terrifying.
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  • Kailee
    January 1, 1970
    John Fram. Remember the name. His debut doesnt land until July, but I gobbled up The Bright Lands in a day.The town of Bentley holds two things clear: its football, and its secrets.Joel Whitley returns to the small town when he receives distressing messages from his brother, only for the star quarterback to go missing days later. Frantic, Joel begins to investigate, but many folks arent too pleased with him causing a ruckus. As Joel digs further, he uncovers a secret that several of the towns John Fram. Remember the name. His debut doesn’t land until July, but I gobbled up The Bright Lands in a day.The town of Bentley holds two things clear: its football, and its secrets.Joel Whitley returns to the small town when he receives distressing messages from his brother, only for the star quarterback to go missing days later. Frantic, Joel begins to investigate, but many folks aren’t too pleased with him causing a ruckus. As Joel digs further, he uncovers a secret that several of the town’s key players kept hidden for decades and will kill to keep.Wow. This book held my attention from start to finish. The chapters alternated between various townsfolk perspectives, piling up a cast of unreliable narrators. I didn’t know who was being truthful because everyone was hiding something.
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  • Tara Weiss
    January 1, 1970
    Haunting. Starts off like the filming rights were sold to HBO, ends with a whole lotta, "What just happened?"The spooky story seems like it is probably a cultural critique of Texas. Read into it, if you dare, and there's a lot to unpack.
  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    Full review to come but for now: wow!
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