When the Night Bells Ring

2023 Independent Publisher Book Award bronze medal winner in Horror

Don’t awaken what sleeps in the dark.

In a future ravaged by fire and drought, two climate refugees ride their motorcycles across the wasteland of the western US, and stumble upon an old silver mine. Descending into the cool darkness of the caved-in tunnels in desperate search of water, the two women find Lavinia Cain’s diary, a settler in search of prosperity who brought her family to Nevada in the late 1860s.

But Lavinia and the settlers of the Western town discovered something monstrous that dwells in the depths of the mine, something that does not want greedy prospectors disturbing the earth. Whispers of curses and phantom figures haunt the diary, and now, over 150 years later, trapped and injured in the abandoned mine, the women discover they’re not alone . . . with no easy way out.

The monsters are still here—and they’re thirsty.


When the Night Bells Ring is delightfully creepy… The Strange Lady out in the desert—who all the children know—the claustrophobia of the tunnels, and the book’s questions about human greed and violence will leave readers unsettled in all the best ways.”
Booklist, Starred Review

VERDICT Seamlessly blending Western, ancient evil, and climate horror tropes, Kaplan (It Will Just Be Us) has created an immersive, chilling, and compelling tale that fans of Christina Henry and Camilla Sten will devour.”
Library Journal

“Jo Kaplan has fashioned an experience like none other, where forgotten curses and future terrors collide. Highly recommended for horror fans whose TBRs consist of VanderMeer-worthy climate disaster novels and the creepiest of creature features, reading When the Night Bells Ring is like slinking through a mine shaft with only a single, dying flashlight to rely on… while behind you, the sound of footsteps—and the tinkling of bells—grows ever-louder.”
—Christa Carmen, author of Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked

“Set in an unforgiving, sun-bleached desert landscape, When The Night Bells Ring is a terrifying, yet hauntingly beautiful novel with a cast of resourceful, fierce women determined to survive their circumstances. Within her complex, interwoven dual narratives, Kaplan masterfully conveys a sense of looming dread in a failing 19th century mining town full of sinister secrets, and the ghost town it has become by the time two latter day refugees of climate change arrive in search of that most precious commodity—water. Engrossing, atmospheric, and shot through with claustrophobic horror, this is the kind of story you can get lost in.”
—Paulette Kennedy, author of Parting The Veil

When the Night Bells Ring is the most terrifying vampire tale in half a century. Jo Kaplan could make a bucket feel haunted, and the horrors she populates old mines and frontier towns with arm the dark with nightmares for days after a reader visits them. Truly, it’s a brilliant novel of survival, greed, and corruption that lingers in the mind like a wound that won’t heal.”
—Jef Rouner, author of Stranger Words


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