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Bone River

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3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  1,805 ratings  ·  219 reviews
From award-winning author Megan Chance, Bone River is a haunting, lyrical tale of passion and identity.

In the mid-19th Century, on Shoalwater Bay, Washington Territory, Leonie Monroe Russell works alongside her oysterman husband, Junius. At night she continues her father’s lifelong obsession—collecting artifacts and studying the native culture that once thrived in area.

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Paperback, 395 pages
Published December 4th 2012 by Lake Union Publishing
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Jane
Where I got the book: review copy from publisher. This review first appeared on the Historical Novel Society's website and in the Historical Novel Review, issue 63.

This beautifully written, lyrical literary novel engages with the themes of the despoliation of the Pacific Northwest’s native culture and 19th-century concerns about race, degeneration and miscegenation.

It is 1875 in Washington Territory. Leonie, raised as an ethnologist by her father and married, by his dying wish, at seventeen to t
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Susan
A woman in 19th century Washington Territory finding bones, a mummy, along side a river in her remote part of the world. Sound like this could be exciting! Unfortunately, for me, this novel didn't work as a mystery or as a romance. The writing was mediocre, and some parts were downright awful. In the prologue, before I got to the main part of the story, I read “I looked into his chiseled face, into his deep-set eyes, and he pulled me into his arms, holding me tight against his chest.” Blaugh, th ...more
Elizabeth
Bone River gets a very strong 4+ rating from me. When an author can combine murder, mystery, passion, history, and a riveting plot with an ability to evoke rich and vivid descriptions, they've got a winning combination. Bone River delivers on all fronts. The emotional and sexual tensions are beautifully drawn too.

Leonie Russell and her husband Junius operate an oystering business in the Washington Territory in the mid-19th century. On the side, Leonie pursues her father's career and obsession: e
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Diane S.
I loved the setting and time frame, Washington, Mid 1800's and the tidbits about the Indians who had lived in the area. I think this is a book that could not quite figure out what it wanted to be. It was part historical, part mystery and part romance, too much romance for my liking. The writing was not good in places and it had somewhat of a pacing problem as well. Although there were historical facts that I enjoyed learning, as a whole this was just okay.
Tricia Douglas
This novel takes place around 1850 in the Pacific Northwest. Very carefully the reader learns about the characters, a father and daughter who collect artifacts and study the native Indian culture. We also meet the daughter's husband, Junius. The story picks up speed when a mummy is found and Leonie, the daughter, is determined to find out who she was. Dreams account for the forces that makes Leonie suspicious of how and why the mummy was buried and why her father's necklace was entangled in the ...more
Melinda
Atmospheric Novel Captures Breaking Free

This is my second Megan Chance novel - "Inamorata" being my first immersive experience in Chance's incandescent prose. To say that my expectations were high was an understatement. While this book is far and away different than the other, that beautiful Chance prose captures the atmosphere and surroundings, as well as the people, their feelings, thoughts, more`s and cultural beliefs. I was not disappointed.

"Bone River" is about deathbed promises and their i
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Pam
I am not sure how I came to read Bone River, but I believe it was a Kindle Daily Deal. These Daily Deals can be hit or miss, but I found this one very enjoyable.

It is the story of Leonie Russel. Leoni livesd in the Pacific Northwest with her father collecting Native American artifacts. When her father died, she marries Junius. Fast forward twenty years when Leonie discovers a lovely Native American mummy in a basket along the river. She is strangely drawn to this mummy. Around that same time, D
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Albert
I admit I'm somewhat torn on what to feel about Bone River. It was very well writtern and plotted but took so long to get to the crux of the tale (plus I figured out what the experiment was well before they revealed it and was just left waiting for the protaganist to get to it) that I found reading the book somewhat of a chore.
Once, though, they get there the book picks up speed and drives itself toward a complete and satisfying conclusion.
Snowy
This was an interesting read about a woman called Leonie, who when young became a dutiful daughter, helping her father discover and take historical artifacts from First Nation communities in the late 1800's. As well, as a dutiful wife marrying her father's friend, and who carries on with her father's work. One day discovers a body buried in the mud by the shore. This is where the story starts to unravel, not only is it a discovery of what is considered an artifact, but it also enables the main c ...more
Courtney
Although this book was very slow to gain my interest, it became a read that I simply couldn't put down. Not only does it maintain the reader's interest with a thrilling mystery with a historical fiction setting, it highlights many issues that include feminism, free will, ethics and culture. Personally, I find a good book blends multiple genres and peaks the interest of the reader - and not just interest in the story and how it will end, but rather intrigue and contemplation at topics presented. ...more
Joanne
This is a fabulously haunting book! The mystical and the psychological elements combine to make this an unforgettable story.

When at 17, Leonie's dying scientist father makes her promise to marry his 40 year old employee and friend, she reluctantly agrees. After all, living on the oyster banks in Washington Territory is all she has ever known. She marries Junius Russell, and for 20 years oystering and studying and selling Indian artifacts to museums has been all she has ever known. She has loved
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Linda
Bone River is a mystery, but it's less a "who-dunnit" than a "what was done." Leonie Russell was raised in the Pacific northwest by her ethnologist father, who trained her to take up his own line of work and study. She always tried to be a good daughter and a good scientist, and when her father died, she trustingly married the man he chose for her, his associate Junius Russell. Together they made a life collecting Native American artifacts and selling oysters, and Lea's only regret is that she n ...more
Tiffany
A quick read but pretty terrible and as subtle as an anvil falling on your head. I think this wound up on my list because it's historical fiction about Washington State. Certainly not because I like the author--I found The Spiritualist to be pretty dumb too. If you like plot points like weighty and meaningful dreams, heavy-handed depictions of a woman's stifled personhood (her husband doesn't like her to drink or dance or enjoy sex), and racist descriptions of "what people used to think about Am ...more
Karen Kennedy
"Bone River" takes you a mystery trip through the life of a passionate and yet pragmatic woman from the 1870s, who lives in the Pacific Northwest. After her father, an ethnologist and collector of Native American artifacts dies from tuberculosis in 1855, Leonie, age seventeen, marries his partner, Junius Russell, who is much older. At 40, Junius is already married, though he claims he will take care of that issue. Fast forward 20 years, and Leonie finds what at first looks like a mummy, in the b ...more
Lynn Stone
This lyrical and atmospheric novel (which is set on the coastline of Washington Territory in the 1870's) tells the story of a young woman who is not what she seems to be.
Leonie came to this place of rain, dripping primeval forests, ice-cold water and spiraling seabirds because of her love for one man, her father. When her father eventually passes away from tuberculosis he forces seventeen year old Leonie to promise that she will marry his much older partner. Leonie keeps her word and has twenty
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Joan
Feb 19, 2013 Joan added it
Loved the way Megan Chance writes!! This book is set in the late 1800s in Alaska. Lea, the main character has lived there for most of her life and studies the Indian ruins found there. Her husband, who is 20 years her senior, has kept many secrets from her regarding her past and also his past. The secrets unfold in the amazing backdrop of early Alaska and the difficult lives these people lead. I loved how her closest companion, an Indian who was friends with her father, often speaks in Chinook, ...more
Marie Dicocco
I finished this a few days ago and have been pondering over what I want to say about it. The story drew me in, although I figured out the end long before I got there.

In addition to the human characters, the weather plays a large role in this story and becomes almost a character itself. The writing was such that I could feel the atmosphere and environment around me throughout. The author did a good job of portraying the restrictions on women of the time and the struggle that a woman went through
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Erich Penhoff
To read it is to understand some of the decline in native history. How the white settlers in fact were grave robbers to add to their income. How the interaction of different tribes was restricted by distance and how old legends influenced the individual life. This book has been researched to a level seldom seen. Native resistance to white men abuse was non existent. The plot is of a different type, it combines mythos with crime, a racial experiment with love and hate, a killing without punishmen ...more
Penny
SPOILER ALERT -
This tells the story of a 37 yr. old woman who was raised mostly by her father who actually was doing an experiment involving her since her real mother was an Indian so she was a half-breed. This happened in 1855 when Indians were thought to be less than human white people.
Anyway she ended finding the mummy of her mother and learned from dreams an and old Indian woman that her father had actually killed her mother. Also her husband's son returned and fell in love with her. They en
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Belinda
Megan Chance has once again returned to the theme of an intelligent, passionate and creative woman suppressed by the strictures of her society and the prejudices of the men in her life. I liked Leonie, and was anxious to see her come into her own. But it was obvious to me by page 50 exactly how it would all play out, and I was right in every particular. It's still an okay read, but I expected a denser, twistier plot from Chance.
Suzanne
After reading and loving Megan Chance's Inamorata, I decided to commit to reading everything (or almost everything) that she's written. While this one didn't disappoint, I didn't love it quite as much as my first venture into her work. Leonie is a complicated, engaging heroine (who should absolutely be played by Brit Marling if this is ever made into a movie - someone please make this book into a movie), who is more of a dreamy blank space shaped by those around her (her father and husband) at t ...more
Kikibittner
I liked her writing and enjoyed the setting of the story in the historic pacific northwest. Since I was born and raised here I really liked hearing about some of the local natives. However, it was less history and more fiction. I would have liked to have read more about the daily lives of natives,and more folk stories. That said, it was a fun read however no serious history will be found here.
Serena Grey
This is a fabulously written and haunting mystery set in the Pacific Northwest in the 1870's. Leonie Russell and her much older husband Junius Russell are ethnologists living a very routine life until she finds a very well preserved mummy in the mud by the river in front of their house. With the mummy comes dreams and warnings from a local native American witch doctor, words of caution from Uncle Tom, her Chinook guardian, and her husbands adult son, Daniel, who he abandoned years ago.
Strangely
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Michelle Whitbeck
I have always been enchanted by Native Americans.... I love how the author wove this story from pieces of their culture.
Jenbehymer
Page turner

Page turner

Bone River is difficult to put down from the first page to the last. The main character, Leonie, finds a mummy in a basket and gets drawn into solving the mystery of the mummy's identity. The story is set in the 1800's in Washington state. Leonie faces challenges from her arranged marriage, sexism and the beautiful, but dangerous, environment. There is a touch of mysticism and the tragic carelessness of how the Native American people's culture and history are dessimated by
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Judy
I LIKED this book but omg...enough with the repetitious angst. Story setting in the Pacific NW during the late 19th century good. Plot good, Characters interesting...but like THE GOLDFINCH I got so tired of him repeating constantly on should or should he not return the picture... In this story she constantly has this calling/ dream/feeling...page after page .After some bones in the bank of their river expose a burial basket with a mummy inside.... Mystery and love story.
ps...this was one of tho
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Alicia
This book is very well written and evokes the chilling, melancholy way the weather can become a force in and of itself. I had to get about 30% into the book before I was hooked, but the remaining book was very engaging. The story is of Leonie who has followed the path set out for her by her father. Her age (37) seemed incongruent with the events as I feel that in the latter part of the 18th century, a woman living the hard outdoor life that she has, probably would not have maintained her bloom. ...more
Cheryl
In the nineteenth century, Leonie lives with her father, an artifact collector and anthropologist in the isolated Pacific Northwest. She is a good, obedient daughter, to the extent that when on his deathbed, he commands her to marry his friend and contemporary, she agrees.

She works for twenty years alongside her older husband, an oysterman, while continuing to study artifacts and the natives as her father did. When one day she finds a mummy, it makes her uneasy. Then her husband's estranged son,
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Kendra
The first half of this book was WAY too slow and I had to drag myself to the halfway point. I was interested enough in where the story was headed (I couldn't figure it out) to stick with it but it was a painfully slow process. Then at about 42% it picked up significantly and moved very quickly.

The big picture is difficult to explain without sounding a bit "off". But, basically...the story is set in the mid-1800's and the main character is Leonie. She is about 37 years old but comes off much you
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Ariel Taivalkoski
Meghan Chance blends several genres in this poorly written novel: mystery, historical fiction, and romance. As far as I'm concerned she failed (to varying degrees) at all of them. The mystery is incredibly easy to figure out, and I found the way in which Chance attempted to string you along towards the conclusion of the 'mystery' incredibly dull and ill-contrived. The romance was also dull; for the life of me I could not see the passion that Chance claimed there was. She seemed unable to make th ...more
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Megan Chance is the critically acclaimed, award-winning author of several novels. Her first book won Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award for excellence in Romantic Fiction, and since then, her novels have received several awards and award nominations. The Be
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More about Megan Chance...
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