Illustration by Hayden Williams


Simon and Schuster
Barnes and Noble

“Sarah Langan never ceases to amaze: A Better World is terrifying, shocking, sinister…and yet heartfelt and often hilarious. Langan has created a United States of the future that feels darkly recognizable—a depository of our current fears about environment, government, health. Her bright, shiny, twisted little town of tomorrow, Plymouth Valley, is a dark, thrilling indictment on the choices we make today.”

Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl and Sharp Objects


A Better World is a sharply observed and compulsively readable suburban noir about a modern American family in the near future who sacrifices everything to stay safe. Only, the more they learn about their choice, the more they wonder: Have they made a devil’s bargain?

You’ll be safe here, the stylish tour guide tells the Farmer-Bowens during their interview for admission into Plymouth Valley, a walled-off company town. And apparently, they will be: In stark contrast to life back home (a recognizable but falling-apart New York City), the air in Plymouth Valley is clean, the pantries never go empty, and schools are blue-ribbon. When they’re offered a very trial basis spot, they jump at the opportunity. Sure, they’ll miss home, but what person in their right mind would turn this opportunity down?

But fitting in takes work. The pampered locals distrust outsiders, snubbing Linda, Russell, and their teen twins. And the residents fervently adhere to a group of customs and beliefs–a company culture–called Hollow…but what exactly is Hollow? It’s Linda who brokers acceptance by volunteering her medical skills to the most influential people in town with their pet charity, ActHollow. At first, everything seems fine. Sure, Russell starts hyperventilating through a paper bag in the middle of the night, and the kids have become secretive, but
living in Plymouth Valley is worth sacrificing their family’s closeness, isn’t it? At least they’ll survive. The trouble is, the locals never say what they think. They seem scared. And Hollow’s ominous culminating event, the Plymouth Valley Winter Festival, is coming.

Linda’s warned by her husband and her powerful new friends to stop asking questions. But the more she learns, the more frightened she becomes. Should the Farmer-Bowens be fighting to stay, or fighting their way out?

Using a stylized, near-future setting to explore timeless questions of family, marriage, and community, Langan excavates the stories we tell ourselves to get through our days, and the ugly truths those stories often conceal. But what happens when all those secrets come to light? Nail-bitingly tense, mordantly funny, and mind-blowingly imaginative, A BETTER WORLD is about ordinary people on the brink, who learn that honesty is a weapon, and that even during the scariest of times, they have a choice.


“A Better World is a dark and unsettling mirror.”

Karen Thompson Walker, New York Times

“A must read.”

Gabino Iglesias, NPR

“Langan’s satirical observations shine in this dystopian thriller set in a wealthy enclave where something sinister lurks under a glittery surface.”

Washington Post

“A high-water mark in the career of a novelist who’s already won three Bram Stoker Awards. My only warning: Don’t start this book on a school night. Beware the sacrifice!”

LA Times

“A Better World is one of the best books this year, or any year.”

Paul Tremblay

“[A Better World] becomes more terrifying with every turn of the page.”

Booklist, starred review

“A Better World is truly fantastic. A marriage story, an apocalyptic story, a moving portrait of a woman trying to save her family in a poisoned world. Imagine if H.G. Wells and Lorrie Moore collaborated on a novel. Then add in some weird-ass birds. Mordant wit, insightful social commentary, and so much heart, Sarah Langan has written a gloriously humane novel.”

Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling and The Ballad of Black Tom

“[A Better World] is like Shirley Jackson on mushrooms.”

Hilarie Burton

“Enthralling… This is one of those books that will be very difficult to put down. You’re just going to read so hard because you have to know what’s going to happen.”

Nerdette (Chicago NPR)

“In the near-future world where Bram Stoker Award winner Langan sets this ambitious thriller,climate disaster and rampant crime have transformed life into a struggle for survival […] Blending suspense, tragedy, and flashes of comedy, Langan keeps her cards close to the vest as the Farmer-Bowens’ perfect escape morphs into a sinister trap.”

Publishers Weekly

“Suspenseful, scathing, simultaneously deeply disturbing and wildly funny. . . . A delicious skewering of the Anthropocene and our desperation for ‘beautification’ at whatever cost. I couldn’t put it down.”

Julia Fine, author of Maddalena and the Dark and The Upstairs House

“A woman in a troubled marriage moves to a perfect town riddled with secrets, and starts to question everything. Part dystopian horror, part domestic thriller, with a core of wry social commentary, A Better World is gripping literary fiction at its finest.”

Sarah Pinborough, New York Times bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes

“A chilling, heartbreaking exploration of our modern psyche. Sarah Langan has never been better or more insightful. There’s more than one way to sell your soul, and Langan knows them all.”

Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of Road of Bones and The House of Last Resort

“Perfectly constructed social horror with emotional heft. A Rorschach test of all our modern fears anchored by the honest, human, heroic characters at the heart of it. A brilliant piece of writing.”

Alma Katsu, author of The Fervor

“A five-minutes-into-the-future dystopian satire that’s so sharp and bloodthirsty you might think of Harvest Home as reimagined by Ira Levin. But the wit and empathy and thrumming cosmic dread are all pure Sarah Langan. It is, indeed, a better world with books like this out there.”

Nat Cassidy, bestselling author of Nestlings and Mary: An Awakening of Terror

“A chilling, heartbreaking exploration of our modern psyche, full of fear, desperation, and terrifying truth. Sarah Langan has never been better or more insightful. There’s more than one way to sell your soul, and Langan knows them all.”

Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of Road of Bones and The House of Last Resort

“When my sister asked me to recommend a novel for her to read at the hospital while she was giving birth, I suggested a book by Sarah Langan. While her dark, unsettling novels rooted in familial and community dysfunction might not seem like the most obvious choice of reading material for an expectant mother, her books are compelling enough to distract you from everything going on around you (including labor pains!) and, at the same time, so sensitively attuned to the delicacies of character that they leave you with a deeper understanding of the relationships in your life that matter most. A Better World is a fearless, frightening, yet strangely reassuring book that takes a pitiless look at the world we’re building for our children—and then introduces us to a family doing its best to navigate that terrifying world with love, compassion, creativity, and humor. I loved it, and if my sister decides to bring another child into this rapidly disintegrating planet, I know exactly what book I’ll recommend she take with her to the delivery room.”

Kristen Roupenian, author of Cat Person and Other Stories