Author: John Darnielle
Life in a small town takes a dark turn when mysterious footage begins appearing on VHS cassettes at the local Video Hut. So begins Universal Harvester, the haunting and masterfully unsettling new novel from John Darnielle, author of the New York Times Bestseller and National Book Award Nominee Wolf in White Van.
A New York Times Bestseller
A Finalist for the Locus Award (Best Horror Novel)
"A moving, beautifully etched picture of America’s lost and profoundly lonely." —Kazuo Ishiguro, author of The Remains of the Day and winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature
“Brilliant . . . Darnielle is a master at building suspense, and his writing is propulsive and urgent; it’s nearly impossible to stop reading . . . [Universal Harvester is] beyond worthwhile; it’s a major work by an author who is quickly becoming one of the brightest stars in American fiction.”
—Michael Schaub, Los Angeles Times
“Grows in menace as the pages stack up . . . [But] more sensitive than one would expect from a more traditional tale of dread.” —Joe Hill, New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
“The most unsettling book I’ve read since House of Leaves.”
—Adam Morgan, Electric Literature
It’s the late ’90s, and you can find Jeremy Heldt at the Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa—a small town in the center of the state. The job is good enough for Jeremy, quiet and predictable, and it gets him out of the house, where he lives with his dad and where they both try to avoid missing Mom, who died six years ago in a carwreck. But when a local school teacher comes in to return her copy of Targets—an old movie, starring Boris Karloff—the transaction jolts Jeremy out of his routine. “There’s something on it,” she says as she leaves the store, though she doesn’t elaborate. Two days later, another customer returns another tape, and registers the same odd complaint: “There’s another movie on this tape.”
In Universal Harvester, the once-placid Iowa fields and farmhouses become sinister, imbued with loss and instability and foreboding. As Jeremy and those around him are absorbed into tapes, they become part of another story—one that unfolds years into the past and years into the future, part of an impossible search for something someone once lost that they would do anything to regain.