What if the figure that haunted your nightmares as a child was real?
Twenty years ago, four teenagers went exploring in the local woods, trying to find the supposed home of the Bone Keeper. Only three returned.
Now, a woman is found wandering the streets, horrifically injured, claiming to have fled the evil urban myth.
And then a body turns up.”
(Avoid spoilers – read the Quick Review)
When a woman is found injured, having escaped near death, a small community is shocked. But quickly after there’s a murder, then another and another. Louise Henderson and her partner Shipley wind through the urban myths they grew up with, surrounding the forest it all seems to link back to, to get to the all too real truth.
The story started strong and promising. Children in a forest investigating an urban myth. They’re right at the source. The tunnel that will lead them to The Bone Keeper. It’s creepy, exciting, mysterious. All the good things. It felt like the exact thing I was desperate to read, and I was so hooked.
What followed was a multiple POV police procedural surrounding a serial killer whose origin is a little too close to home for the main protagonist Louise.
I’ll admit, I set myself up for the exact wrong thing yet again. I mean, it literally said “police procedural” in the blurb (to be fair it doesn’t add that part in on amazon – where I bought it). I decided to focus on the former half that I interpreted to be some kind of supernatural horror and, big surprise, was disappointed when it was in fact not that, at all.
I want to give it some slack for that fact alone, but in all honesty even taking it for what it really was, I was still a bit disappointed. It’s obvious this story was set up to push that question and that line: Is the killer supernatural or is it real? It did do that well, but I felt it did it for a little too long at 416 pages.
I don’t have a problem with crime thrillers. Typically, they’re not exactly my favorite genre but when executed well they can feel like well-paced, fast and intriguing reads. However, once you leave the forest and the children the story feels like it adopts an almost mundane tone with only the parts that contained hints of the myth really sparking any interest.
It was just so much detective work. Then came the multiple POV’s. Victims, victims loved ones, the bone keeper himself, Caroline, Shipley, Louise, Mathew. It was a lot, and sometimes it added to the story. At first it was interesting to see the killings closer up. Caroline’s story line, toward the end, really tied everything together nicely. It was satisfying to hear from Mathew. But it also took away from the creep factor, from some of the mystery, some of the instances added layers of unnecessary confusion.
Close to the biggest revelation, what I struggled with most was: If the Bone Keeper is real, how was he depicted doing seemingly supernatural things? If he’s supernatural when if ever, from all the POV’s, will there come a point that we will explore his abilities, myth and origin deeper?
The revelations did surprise me in the end. But I was required to suspend my belief a lot. Which usually is not a problem for me but in this instance felt kind of deflating where I hoped it would pull everything up in an exciting finale.
The theme of people’s natures really was the highlight of the book. The question of whether everyone has the capacity for brutality within them. Do you have to be born evil or is everyone capable of doing terrible, monstrous things, given the right circumstances and taking the wrong paths.
The answer seems different for each of the characters in the book. Louise, different from her father, who is different from Mathew.
In Louise’s case we get someone who struggles against her brutal and violent nature but ultimately chooses and wants to be good. Not easily, not smoothly, not unwaveringly but finds her way through the darkness in the end.
It gave an interesting depth to the story. I felt a sadness and dread for the victims and their loved ones. I even felt a little for the loss of those pulled into the cult like group Louise’s father had founded. For their lost potential to be different. I especially felt sad for Caroline and Mathew.
Yet I struggled to like anyone in the book. Louise had a bit of depth and struggled with inner demons and her own nature. She was complicated, and I appreciated that, but I didn’t really feel much for her.
Caroline was not a character you could relate with or understand beyond her victimization until close to the end. Shipley was uninteresting and presented a dynamic and kind of romance I didn’t care for. And the rest were strangers and cold murderers.
Overall, I struggled to keep interest and remained passively, mildly curious. Never really feeling submerged in the story beyond the starting chapter. It had its moments of horrific scenes, creepiness, visceral descriptions and beautiful isolated settings but seemed to be overshadowed by all the elements of the story that let it down. The clustered multiple POV, the confusing, hard to believe revelations and the slow-going detective work stretched out for too long.
– 2/5 A slow burning crime thriller, psychological, horror mix that had promising moments but wasn’t quite the right mix and pace for me.