Category Archives: The Bright Lights

Review: The Bright Lands by John Fram

Title: The Bright Lands by John Fram
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, Mystery, Horror
Length: 480 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


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.

Shocking, twisty and relentlessly suspenseful, John Fram’s debut is a heart-pounding story about old secrets, modern anxieties and the price young men pay for glory.


The Bright Lands by John Fram is a small town mystery with horror elements.

Bullied and humiliated for being gay, Joel Whitley left his small hometown of Bentley, TX behind him ten years ago.  Now living in New York, he has a successful career and he enjoys all the perks of big city life. But after a series of troubling texts with his ten years younger brother Dylan, Joel returns to Bentley to find out what is going on. When Dylan vanishes, Joel will do whatever it takes to find him. He eventually teams up with Sheriff’s Deputy Starsha Clark and together they attempt to learn the truth about Dylan and ultimately, their town.

Joel is wracked with guilt that his relationship with Dylan is distant and superficial.  Which is why he vows to do better once he realizes something is wrong with his brother.  Immediately after his return to Bentley, he is plagued by unpleasant memories and exhausting, terrifying dreams. After Dylan fails to return home after a weekend away with his football buddies, Joel and his mother fear the worst.

Dylan is a star quarterback and he is revered by everyone in Bentley.  He tries to downplay his texts to Joel and goes forward with his weekend plans with his friends. In the aftermath of his disappearance, Joel  discovers disquieting information about his brother that leads to more questions than answers. But he remains committed to exposing the truth about what happened to Dylan.

After Dylan goes missing, Clark is surprised when she is assigned to work with Inspector Grady Mayfield. They begin questioning the quarterback’s circle of friends which is somewhat frustrating due to their lack of candor. As the situation worsens over the course of a week, Clark and Joel find help from very unexpected sources. And their quest for answers leads right to mysterious whisperings of the Bright Lands.  Are Joel and Clark prepared for what awaits them as their investigation takes a shocking, horror-filled  turn?

The Bright Lands is a riveting mystery with a large cast of characters and an imaginative storyline. Written from multiple points of view, the tension rises with every chapter. Exhaustion and fear are palpable as Joel, Clark and Dylan’s classmates venture deep into the surrounding  flat lands in hopes of finally uncovering the secrets that some of Bentley’s residents are keeping. With plenty of action and suspense,  John Fram brings this spine-tingling mystery to an edge of the seat, action packed conclusion. An impressive debut that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend.

Comments Off on Review: The Bright Lands by John Fram

Filed under Contemporary, Hanover Square Press, Horror, John Fram, LGBT, Mystery, Rated B, Review, The Bright Lights