Daphne is a creepily thrilling read


Abby Busch

Daphne kept me captivated throughout the entire book.

Don’t think of a red bird. Don’t think of a wolf. Or a colorful butterfly. A very ferocious lion. 

Of course, you thought of all those things. It was inevitable the minute I said it.

But most importantly, don’t think of a psychotic killer named Daphne—she’ll only come for you if you do. 

The horror book Daphne by Josh Malerman, author of the renowned Bird Box, was released Sept. 20, 2022. It follows the current high school girl’s basketball team of Samhattan, a small town in Michigan, as they are being hunted by Daphne. 

Daphne is a vicious, seven-foot-tall, freakishly strong resident of Samhattan; at least she was before she died decades prior at the hands of old classmates—all a part of the girl’s basketball team—who brutally killed her under questionable circumstances. Now, Daphne is returning the favor by savagely murdering any who thinks about her, and with her bare hands; more specifically, anyone on the current girl’s high school basketball team. 

It was said that Daphne was like an urban legend in the town. Parents shushed their children who spoke of her, and nobody truly knew the truth or whether she was real at all. Daphne could go years without being thought of. The problem is, once a teammate is killed, everybody on the team assumes it was Daphne and therefore, thinks about Daphne enough that Daphne goes to kill them until the entire team is dead. It’s a vicious, never-ending circle.

Those living in Samhattan had been trained not to think of Daphne to the point where citizens would forget conversations and previous incidents—specifically murders—that happened only hours before that concerned her.

Malerman masterfully weaves together a variety of different perspectives, including the lead detective and other members of the basketball team, to create a horrifyingly dark story of a killer.

The myth of Daphne reminds me of the Ada Witch. It’s simply a town legend, not thought about twice. This aspect was actually what first drew me in and made me interested in the book. It’s practically the same as if the Ada Witch was malicious and real.

Though I am not a huge fan of horror books, I veritably enjoyed Daphne. I read it in less than twenty-four hours; while this is not entirely uncommon for me generally, it certainly is when considering horror books. Daphne was definitely frightening, but it sucked me in to an extent that I didn’t even realize I had read over half the book in one sitting. 

I think the part that made it as chilling and eerie as it was is that the main character—Kit, a starter on the basketball team—had such severe anxiety that I was overthinking and finding everything as frightening as she did. She found something to be scared of in every situation—sometimes rightfully so, but other times not. One of the first things learned about Kit is that she had called 911 on herself a few years earlier for having her first panic attack when she thought she was dying. Add Kit and Daphne together, the answer is a burgeoning ball of stress.

Malerman masterfully weaves together a variety of different perspectives, including the lead detective and other members of the basketball team to create a horrifyingly dark story of a killer. Daphne captivated me from cover to cover; I know I have been saying how frightening this book is, but it was creepily thrilling and almost fun to read.