Skip to main content
Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Bus on Thursday

The Bus on Thursday

A Novel

Shirley Barrett

MCD x FSG Originals

BUY THE BOOK

Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist in this wickedly funny, dark novel about one woman’s post-cancer retreat to a remote Australian town and the horrors awaiting her

It wasn’t just the bad breakup that turned Eleanor Mellett’s life upside down. It was the cancer. And all the demons that came with it.

One day she felt a bit of a bump when she was scratching her armpit at work. The next thing she knew, her breast was being dissected and removed by an inappropriately attractive doctor, and she was suddenly deluged with cupcakes, judgy support groups, and her mum knitting sweaters.

Luckily, Eleanor discovers Talbingo, a remote little town looking for a primary-school teacher. Their Miss Barker up and vanished in the night, despite being the most caring teacher ever, according to everyone. Unfortunately, Talbingo is a bit creepy. It’s not just the communion-wine-guzzling friar prone to mad rants about how cancer is caused by demons. Or the unstable, overly sensitive kids, always going on about Miss Barker and her amazing sticker system. It’s living alone in a remote cabin, with no cell or Internet service, wondering why there are so many locks on the front door and who is knocking on it late at night.

Riotously funny, deeply unsettling, and surprisingly poignant, Shirley Barrett’s The Bus on Thursday is a wickedly weird, wild ride for fans of Helen Fielding, Maria Semple, and Stephen King.

I was at work scratching my armpit. I was literally at my desk scratching my pit and I felt it and I freaked out and I didn’t tell a soul and normally I’m the kind of person to blurt out everything. So I guess I panicked from the word go.

I...

Praise for The Bus on Thursday

A BookRiot Best Horror Book of 2018

"Barrett’s novel abounds with a steadily advancing dread, even as it's tempered by bursts of bleak humor. The result is a subtly unnerving novel with a sinister climax, and some imagery that's hard to forget." —Tobias Carroll, Vol. 1 Brooklyn

"A horror novel about a breast cancer survivor told in the voice of your funniest but most anxious friend, The Bus on Thursday is an appealing mix of genres that is both fluffy and deeply affecting at the same time." Vulture

"Your heart will go out to the eccentric, self-destructive Eleanor, whose sharply witty narration is a superb companion ot the weird world of Talbingo." People

"Ingenuously exploits folk horror conventions . . . Funny and harrowingly honest." Toronto Star

"Brilliant . . . A darkly funny tale." —Eithne Farry, Mail on Sunday

"Thrillingly original and wildly funny. A slippery narrative keeps you guessing what's really going on with a sharply witty narration." —Deirdre O'Brien, Sunday Mirror

"The Bus on Thursday takes the 19th century literary conceit of a woman going mad in the face of repressive social expectations and updates it with brio for the 21st century." —Claire Allfree, Metro UK

"Delightfully bizarre . . . Eleanor Mellet steps straight out of a chick-lit plot line into WICKER MAN-type horror . . . This book deserves to find its (cult) audience. For readers who enjoy their horror elegantly twisted." Library Journal, starred review

"Narrated by… More…

A BookRiot Best Horror Book of 2018

"Barrett’s novel abounds with a steadily advancing dread, even as it's tempered by bursts of bleak humor. The result is a subtly unnerving novel with a sinister climax, and some imagery that's hard to forget." —Tobias Carroll, Vol. 1 Brooklyn

"A horror novel about a breast cancer survivor told in the voice of your funniest but most anxious friend, The Bus on Thursday is an appealing mix of genres that is both fluffy and deeply affecting at the same time." Vulture

"Your heart will go out to the eccentric, self-destructive Eleanor, whose sharply witty narration is a superb companion ot the weird world of Talbingo." People

"Ingenuously exploits folk horror conventions . . . Funny and harrowingly honest." Toronto Star

"Brilliant . . . A darkly funny tale." —Eithne Farry, Mail on Sunday

"Thrillingly original and wildly funny. A slippery narrative keeps you guessing what's really going on with a sharply witty narration." —Deirdre O'Brien, Sunday Mirror

"The Bus on Thursday takes the 19th century literary conceit of a woman going mad in the face of repressive social expectations and updates it with brio for the 21st century." —Claire Allfree, Metro UK

"Delightfully bizarre . . . Eleanor Mellet steps straight out of a chick-lit plot line into WICKER MAN-type horror . . . This book deserves to find its (cult) audience. For readers who enjoy their horror elegantly twisted." Library Journal, starred review

"Narrated by a cybercentury Wife of Bath, this bawdy tale suspends both our disbelief and our scruples." Kirkus

"With her snarky wit and old-school horror style, Barrett has mastered the art of the small-town gothic — perfect for readers who like their horror to straddle the nebulous border between the real and the otherworldly. Hilarious, bizarre, and absolutely terrifying, The Bus on Thursday reads like the Lovecraftian love child of Shirley Jackson and Stephen King!" Powells.com

"The Bus on Thursday is a delirious, exhilarating ride that you can't predict and you won't forget. Like Rosemary's Baby recast with Bridget Jones, it will make you laugh and make you gasp. What more could you possibly want?" —Adam Sternbergh, author of The Blinds

"I don't know that I've read a book before that made me laugh out loud while remaining totally unnerved, but The Bus on Thursday does just that. It's a novel overrun with a rapidly metastasizing host of unreliable outbursts, odd characters and suspicious events. I'd willingly bear witness to any world through sociopathic Eleanor's eyes." —Jac Jemc, author of The Grip of It

"Bursting with raucous energy, while anchored in seriousness, The Bus on Thursday is an intoxicating horror-humor romp.” —Jeff VanderMeer, author of Borne and The Southern Reach Trilogy

“Shirley Barrett has crafted a quirky, one-of-a-kind, wild ride of a novel with demons, kangaroos, a missing schoolteacher, a remote town where things are strangely off-kilter, and a wonderfully bizarre cast of characters. The Bus on Thursday is a darkly funny and deeply unsettling novel you’ll devour in one sitting.” —Jennifer McMahon, author of The Winter People

Less…

Reviews from Goodreads

Shirley Barrett

Shirley Barrett is an award-winning filmmaker and writer. She is the author of Rush Oh! and has written and directed three feature films and worked extensively as a director in television. Barrett was born in Melbourne and lives in Sydney, Australia.