The twisted Daphne by Josh Malerman (Pearl; A House at the Bottom of a Lake; Bird Box) opens with a tied basketball game with one second left on the clock. Kit, a member of the girls' high school basketball team, steps to the foul line. Before releasing the ball, she silently asks the rim, "Will Daphne kill me?" The ball goes through the net and Kit knows she is about to die.
The night before the big basketball game against summer league rivals, Kit Lamb and her teammates have a sleepover. One of them recounts the story of seven-foot-tall murdered teen Daphne Vann. Legend says that merely thinking about Daphne brings her angry ghost back to life. Naturally, Daphne is suddenly all the team can think about. Kit and her mates treat basketball like a Magic 8 Ball, asking a question before taking a shot. If the ball goes in, the answer is yes; if it misses, it's a no. The rim has never lied to Kit. When she makes the game-winning free throw, Kit knows it's just a matter of time before Daphne will kill her. But first up are some of Kit's Daphne-obsessed teammates. Carla McGowan, the newly transferred detective, is smart--but it's impossible to track a vicious ghost when tight-lipped local residents hold the secret to stopping the murders.
Daphne continues Malerman's streak of masterfully written horror stories set in small-town America. His ability to turn a strange premise (underwater haunted houses, pigs capable of mind control, murderous ghosts drawn forth by thoughts) into believable reality is simply magnificent. --Paul Dinh-McCrillis, freelance reviewer