A hapless retiree and a devious doctor discover the key to human hibernation—but when their secret goes public, death, deception, and moral dilemmas wreak havoc on their lives.

Inspired in part by the “Frozen Hill People” legend, a Vermont hoax from the late 19th century.

Black Days tells the story of Daniel Fassett, a Vermont man who crashes his vehicle into the Mad River on Christmas Eve, 1992. After nearly drowning, Daniel falls into a four-month-long coma shortly before his retirement date and loses a significant portion of his pension. 

Depressed and financially strapped, he enlists the aid of a local semi-retired physician, Dr. William Butcher, to help him hibernate through the winter in a homemade casket housed in a backyard maple sugarhouse.

Despite Daniel’s attempts to maintain secrecy, word of the procedure eventually gets out—and that is when trouble begins.

From across the country, folks eager to escape their woes reach out to Daniel and Dr. Butcher in hopes of becoming the next to pass a season in oblivion. Large sums of money are offered for the privilege—but death, deception, and moral and ethical dilemmas that have no clear solutions wreak havoc on Daniel’s life.

Advance Praise for BLACK DAYS

From the Publisher: I believe Black Days will appeal to fans of domestic suspense and fans of offbeat, gothic, literary thrillers with dark humor and a relatable protagonist. Specifically, readers of fellow Vermonters Shirley Jackson and Castle Freeman, Jr., or fans of Hubert Selby, Jr., may especially enjoy Black Days. It is a terse, engaging book, and as such may be well-liked by those who appreciate Stephen King’s shorter works such as Elevation, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, or Secret Window, Secret Garden.

“The dramatic tension of Black Days is perfect throughout. Nobody is going to put this book down.” —Howard Frank Mosher, author of Where the Rivers Flow North, Disappearances

“Jackson Ellis has come up with a most unusual marriage of fairly straight literary realism and over-the-top phantasmagoria that is the more successful for its quiet, understated narration. It’s fast-paced, compelling, and equipped with a hero-narrator whom the reader likes and sympathizes with from the outset.” —Castle Freeman, Jr., author of Go With Me, The Devil in the Valley

“Jackson Ellis combines the subtlety of a Don DeLillo with the fearlessness of Stephen King. If you love stories that take you on a wild ride from introspective narrative to sinister revelation you’ll enjoy Black Days. You’ll never predict what the next turn in the horrifying journey will be until you take the trip.”  —Bill Morgan, author of I Celebrate Myself, The Typewriter Is Holy

About the Author
Jackson Ellis is a writer and editor from Vermont who has also spent time living in Nevada and Montana. His short fiction has appeared in The Vermont Literary Review, Sheepshead ReviewBroken PencilThe Birmingham Arts Journal, East Coast Literary ReviewMidwest Literary Magazine, and The Journal of Microliterature. He co-published, which he founded as a print periodical in 1999. His debut, Lords of St. Thomas, received the 2017 Howard Frank Mosher First Novel Prize.

Black Days
Paperback Original
Trim Size: 5.5 x 8.25
Page Count: 184
Price: $19.95 (CA $27.37)
ISBN: 979-8-9891784-5-2
Publication Date: SEPTEMBER 2024
Distributor: IPG/Chicago, Ingram.
Rights sold: All rights available.
Rights & PR: Dede Cummings,

Distributor: IPG; also available through Follett/Baker & Taylor, Ingram, and other wholesalers.
Individuals can pre-order directly from, or contact your local, independent bookstore.
Booksellers, libraries, colleges/universities, gift shops, etc., can order through IPG:
Independent Publishers Group
814 N. Franklin Street
Chicago, IL 60610
Order Placement: (800) 888-4741

To request an advance reader copy—digital or print—email