Barrett has created a truly sardonic dark comedy horror novel in The Bus on Thursday. Eleanor’s life was turned upside down when she found a lump in her breast, resulting in chemo and a mastectomy. When she finally finds a new job in a super small Australian town, she ignores many of the creepy warning signs about the place. A strange cast of characters swirls around Eleanor as she navigates this new position: the priest offers to exorcise her “cancer demon,” a lonely lady offers her a spot at the decoupage club, and one of her students – who is way too old to be in her class – starts to have sexual feelings for her. All of this while Eleanor may or may not be sleeping with a demon.

Shirley Barrett

Written in an epistolary style, Eleanor journals and walks the reader through her strange experiences – memory loss, weird new relationships, and post-treatment cancer medications. Eleanor is a revealing narrator, never afraid to show the reader the worst parts of herself. This is why she is so captivating. I read this novel in one sitting. It was hard to set it down with the crazy events Eleanor describes. The small diary chunks also keep the reader super engaged.

This novel is captivating, laugh out loud funny (even though you feel quite wrong for laughing), and surprisingly graphic at times. It is easily comparable to Ash vs Evil Dead, one of my absolute favorite television shows. It is extremely difficult to write humorously, but to write horror comedy is an even greater feat. I have never read a work of dark comedy as good as this one. Barrett makes us feel terrible for laughing but pats us on the back and nods for us to continue.

Despite its measly 3.23 rating on Goodreads, this is a 5-star read. I highly recommend this to the true horror lover who knows how to laugh even though you’re also covering your eyes.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)