Anna's Reviews > The Bone Factory

The Bone Factory by Nate Kenyon
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Mar 06, 12

bookshelves: horror
Read in June, 2009

First of all, and I want to be really clear about this, The Bone Factory hit on my deepest bias. (No, not the one where I eternally love anyone who supplies me with chocolate, the other one.) There's a horrific child abuse scene which goes into great detail, and I have a really hard time dealing with that sort of thing. Seriously, I didn't make it through Gregory Maguire's Wicked because I couldn't get past the neglect/abuse in the earlier parts of the book, and that was pretty mild compared to what I'm talking about here. I read the scene and had to put it down and walk away for awhile because it disturbed and upset me, and it's probably pretty clear it still does. I can handle a lot of dark and disturbing things, but child abuse goes over the line for me, and colours my feelings for the book.

With that out of the way, I'm going to do what I can to write a fair and honest review, but since I'm only human, I ask everyone to bear in mind that this book pushed my personal buttons, which may not have the same effect on other readers. I suppose the same could be said of any other book, but even more so today.

The first thing I feel I should mention is the setting. Above and beyond all the characters, the harsh winter permeates the story so thoroughly you almost feel it. Death by climate is just as big a threat as the "blue man" in the woods, perhaps even more so. As someone who happens to be a Canadian having just lived through a winter with several weeks hovering between -40 and -60F, I can appreciate the freakish weather in the book and how it becomes a physical challenge for the characters, as big a problem as all the other issues going on. (Although I'd like to point out the wussy jackets they would have worn around New York would not be adequate protection from the snow and cold, not even in March. A good quality parka is a necessity in the north.)

The mystery is beautifully crafted, with the pieces slowly coming together, the reader actually working out what's going on along with the characters rather than being three chapters ahead and wishing the protagonists would learn to add one and one. When everything finally comes together, it creates one of those delightful "ahhh" moments, like book nirvana, where it all suddenly makes sense.

I really liked the concept of Jessie, a little girl who knows far more than she should, although I wish she had been explored more thoroughly. There are hints of what she can do, but if we're going to delve into the supernatural, I wanna know all the details. Most of the things she does are by accident, and I got the sense we never really find out the extent of what Jessie can do (not to mention how they work), which is a shame.

I was less keen hearing from the perspective of the madman (not really a villain per se, since he never set out to commit evil, but a mentally disturbed killer is still a killer). Really, the pieces from that side of the story could just as well have been brought in by Amanda the therapist, which would have streamlined and served to emphasize the bond between therapist and patient, which becomes important later on but is more told to us than shown.

So that's the good, the bad, and the ugly. Despite my nitpicks, it's a well-written mystery/thriller with some genuinely scary moments and a lovely attention to detail. If you're looking for something creepy with minimal gore, this might be the book you want.
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