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

It Will Just Be Us

They say there’s a door in Wakefield that never opens…

Sam Wakefield’s ancestral home, a decaying mansion built on the edge of a swamp, isn’t a place for children. Its labyrinthine halls, built by her mad ancestors, are filled with echoes of the past: ghosts and memories knotted together as one. In the presence of phantoms, it’s all Sam can do to disentangle past from present in her daily life.

But when her pregnant sister Elizabeth moves in after a fight with her husband, something in the house shifts. Already navigating her tumultuous relationship with Elizabeth, Sam is even more unsettled by the appearance of a new ghost: a faceless boy who commits disturbing acts—threatening animals, terrorizing other children, and following Sam into the depths of the house wielding a knife. When it becomes clear the boy is connected to the room with the locked door, Sam realizes this ghost is not like the others. This boy brings doom

As Elizabeth’s due date approaches, Sam must unravel the mysteries of Wakefield before her sister brings new life into a house marked by death. But as the faceless boy grows stronger, Sam will learn that some doors should stay closed—and some secrets are safer locked away forever.


“A rich, dense supernatural thriller… Horror fiction fans will also want to check this out.”
Publishers Weekly

“This novel is so clever and effortlessly atmospheric it deserves to find a wide audience beyond the traditional horror crowd… Highly recommended.”

“The plot rolls out like a swirling drain…Kaplan has concocted a miasma of insanity and witchery a la We Have Always Lived in the Castle.”

“Will leave you with chills.”
Fresh Fiction

“A fantastic ghost story…you should probably read during the day.”
Manhattan Book Review

It Will Just Be Us is a triumph of gothic fiction. Haunting and addictive, the evocative language leads the reader along a deliciously horrifying path to an ending we both dread and wait for with held breath. A must-read for horror fans.”
—Darcy Coates, USA Today bestselling author of The Haunting of Ashburn House

Marvelously atmospheric, emphatically suspenseful and beautifully written, Jo Kaplan’s It Will Just Be Us had my full attention from its deliciously creepy first page and kept frightening me straight through to the end.”
—Laird Hunt, author of In the House in the Dark of the Woods

It Will Just Be Us is a beautifully written, gripping Gothic story complete with a decaying house, a dysfunctional family, and hidden secrets. It simmers with darkness and danger and kept me turning pages until late in the night. I loved it!
—Damien Angelica Walters, author of The Dead Girls Club

“Kaplan conjures a bracing, surreal world in which the passage of time—properly understood—may herald the greatest horror of all… This mysterious world sucks you in and keeps you turning pages.”
—Scott Kenemore, author of Zombie, Ohio and The Grand Hotel

“A truly chilling novel with an ending that will take your breath away. Mad Catherine’s house is (literally) the stuff of nightmares, and in Julian, Jo has created one of the most frightening characters I’ve come across since Gabe from Pet Semetary. I couldn’t read it too late at night, and I had to cover up my mirrors! Also very glad I live in a modern house nowhere near a swamp.”
—Melanie Golding, author of Little Darlings

“There are few new writing stars rising faster or shining brighter than Jo Kaplan… Beautifully hypnotic and eerie, this novel is a must-have for fans of the literary macabre.”
—Eric J. Guignard, author of That Which Grows Wild

“Jo Kaplan’s It Will Just Be Us is a chilling, poetic, modern Gothic masterpiece. Evocative and reflective, this is a story that haunted my imagination for many a night.
—John Palisano, Bram Stoker Award-Winning author of Ghost Heart

“In It Will Just Be Us, Jo Kaplan channels Shirley Jackson adding her own depth and haunting style. The best haunted house novel I’ve read since Sarah Langan’s Audrey’s Door.”
—Daniel Braum, author of The Night Marchers and Other Stories

“Kaplan writes with extraordinary skill and authority, balancing the supernatural with the psychological… A vibrant, thrilling novel of family love and conflict.”
—S.P. Miskowski, author of I Wish I Was Like You

“From the very first line, Jo Kaplan’s It Will Just Be Us pulled me into a Gothic horror world that would make Shirley Jackson proud. Thick with The Haunting of Hill House vibes, Jo Kaplan’s take on the classic haunted house story is wholly original, and utterly absorbing. Wakefield Manor is as complex a character as its human and ghostly occupants. The atmosphere of the novel is deftly constructed, and the prose lyrical. I found myself lost in the world of the Great Dismal Swamp and its dark history. A must read, especially for fans of Shirley Jackson, Ruth Ware, and Riley Sager.
—Kathleen Kaufman, author of Hag, and the Diabhal trilogy