Book Review: The Bright Lands

07.07.2020 | Hanover Square Press
Rating: 5/5 stars


Underneath their intense love for the Friday night lights, the town of Bentley, Texas only holds one thing closer, their secrets. Star quarterback, Dylan Whitley, has gone missing under strange circumstances. In the days leading up to his disappearance he told his brother he wanted to quit football and that he could no longer go somewhere known as The Bright Lands. Dylan’s brother, Joel, was shamed out of conservative Bentley many years ago when the town found out he was gay. Now he must risk his safety and self to return to his hometown. Along with Deputy Starsha Clark, these two will become unlikely allies on the quest to find out the truth about Dylan and Bentley.

THE BRIGHT LANDS is a compelling mixture of crime fiction and horror that sends the reader to a conservative Texas town straight from your worst nightmare. Bentley is a town fully obsessed with high school football. The residents all live for the Friday night lights and would do anything for the players. When strange dreams start to take over the town, the residents aren’t sure what to think, but an overwhelming sense of dread quickly takes over. 


John Fram has created such a well-rounded story with THE BRIGHT LANDS that I truly felt swept away and immersed in Bentley, Texas. Through the use of multiple, alternating narratives, Fram was able to provide the reader with viewpoints from Joel, Deputy Clark, and several high school students who opened the doors for an inside look into Bentley. Joel easily stole my heart with his story of where his life is today, what he experienced in Bentley during his youth, and the many regrets he has come to hold over his lifetime. It was perhaps the students, however, that opened the door for me to truly understand the town and the secrets it contains.

While I am a huge fan of multiple narratives, there is certainly a point where they can become overwhelming or authors choose to include too many perspectives. Fram successfully navigated this concern by keeping Joel and Clark as the dominant narratives throughout the course of the story. The narratives from the high school students simply added another perspective when needed. These additional narratives never feel forced, but instead open the door for further exploration of Bentley.


One of my favorite elements of THE BRIGHT LANDS has to be the overwhelming sense of dread that Fram is able to convey within this book. From the opening pages you know something strange is going on, but like many residents in Bentley you have no idea what that thing is exactly. Fram drops subtle hints and revelations throughout the first 3/4 of the story, but it’s not until that last 1/4 of the book that things truly start pouring out at a breakneck speed. What an ending! The build up was phenomenal, but nothing could compare to how tense the ending was!

It’s hard to talk about how brilliant this book truly is without revealing some of my favorite parts of the plot. What you need to know is that this book is something you need on your TBR! This book is an escape into a world that will break your heart, make you smile, and completely blow you away! What are you waiting for?? Get your copy now!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon Book Depository

A massive thank you to John Fram for sending me a gifted copy!

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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