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, this debut is a heart-pounding story about old secrets, modern anxieties and the price young men pay for glory.

Readers Love This Stunning Debut Novel

Click here to read an exclusive excerpt of The Bright Lands in Poets & Writers Magazine.

“Absolutely enthralling. Written with the rhythm of the game Fram writes of. A mystery to get the skin crawling even as you unbury the secrets of those trying to solve it. Despite its nature, there is a warmth to this thriller, and you’ll feel like you’ve come home… a home that still haunts you”

Josh Malerman, New York Times best-selling author of BIRD BOX, INSPECTION, and A HOUSE AT THE BOTTOM OF A LAKE

“The Bright Lands is a chilling and fast-paced supernatural thriller that also manages to be a heartbreaking meditation on shame, repression, denial and regret. This strange and beautiful novel is a stunning debut and I’m already hungry for whatever Fram does next.”

Shaun Hamill, author of A Cosmology of Monsters

“Expertly plotted, sharply written, and seriously thrilling, The Bright Lands doesn’t read like a debut novel except for the freshness and energy of John Fram’s voice.”

Stan Parish, author of Love and Theft

“Fram’s ambitious debut takes a critical, terrifying look at a small town in Texas… This offers as many weekend frights as celebratory lights”

Publisher’s Weekly – Read the full review here

“John Fram’s THE BRIGHT LANDS is darker than you think. Fram begins with a Friday Night Lights supernatural mystery, then lures the reader into an insidious labyrinth of human cruelty, voracious supernatural evil, and startling malice. Unsettling, and compelling as hell. ”

Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of ARARAT and THE PANDORA ROOM

“I am stunned—I haven’t been able to step away from this book since I started it. An earnest, thoughtful exploration of the monstrosity inherent in our American myths surrounding masculinity and sexuality, The Bright Lands is a kind of horror I’ve never seen before. Fram’s done something exquisite here.”

Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars

“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.”

P. J. Vernon, author of When You Find Me

“John Fram’s The Bright Lands is many things: A stylish, gripping thriller that’s compulsively readable; a tale of horrors, both everyday and otherworldly, that’s at turns disturbing and erotic; and a provocative treatment of gay shame gnarled by toxic masculinity. But most of all, it’s a terrifically self-assured debut from a gifted novelist with much to say.”

Sam Lansky, author of Broken People

“The Bright Lands is Gothic and Faulknerian: smooth, original, haunting. And very sexy.”

Edmund White

“John Fram’s gripping debut announces a remarkable talent—this prose is tight, stylish, and explosive, depicting a Texas that is by turns lusty and menacing, supersaturated and bleak. As propulsive as it is pitch dark, The Bright Lands will seep into the shadowy contours of your most unsettling, unforgettable dreams. ”

Kimberly King Parsons, author of the National Book Award-nominated Black Light

“Smart, sharp, unpredictable, and unsettling, The Bright Lands is not just an excellent supernatural thriller, but the debut of a writer who is breaking down and expanding our ideas of what suspense and horror can and should be.”

David Ebershoff, New York Times-bestselling author of The Danish Girl and The 19th Wife

“An addictive and provocative modern whodunit.”

Texas Monthly – Read the full review here

“A confident and thought-provoking tale that explores complex family dynamics, sexuality, religion, and coming-of-age anxieties within a solid horror frame. A great choice for fans of Victor LaValle or Ania Ahlborn”

Library Journal – Read the full review here

Media and Interviews

Enjoy this BookPage interview and starred review by G. Robert Frazier.

Casey Barrett and I discussed The Bright Lands, the role of crime fiction in justifying police brutality, and the future of the genre for Booktrib. Watch the recap online and read his glowing review.

I had an incredible chat with Janelle Janson for TOR Nightfire.

On the podcast “This Book Will Change Your Life” I talked about Texas, queer power, and the origins of “Stephen Queen”.

I had the pleasure of speaking to Adam Vitcavage for the Debutiful podcast.