Book for the current dread

The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus begins with something like an allergic reaction: The language of the young—mostly those younger than sixteen—is suddenly, viscerally toxic to anyone older than that. This isn’t a metaphor. The narrator describes a band of children cornering a woman, and speaking at her, until she’s on the asphalt, dead.

The book follows this narrator, the father of a girl, as the world stops being legible. He hides in a shed behind his house. He listens to broadcasts from… something… coming through a receiver, a device both built and organic. He follows the receiver’s tubes through the a tunnel in the earth.

The book begins in a nightmare dystopia, and it ends in some dark fable, a denouement with shades of religion and mythopoeia. It grinds through anxieties until they are finer, smaller, than you can see.

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