Friday, August 23, 2013

By These Ten Bones by Clare B. Dunkle

A nice Friday book review for a fun week filled with TV.  Since I went along the lines of comedy, I wanted to it with a nice note of young horror...and romance. Lol.  Onto the review!

By These Ten Bones by Clare B. Dunkle

A mysterious young man has come to a small Highland town. His talent for wood carving soon wins him work at the castle and the admiration of the weaver's daughter Maddie. Fascinated by the silent carver, she sets out to gain his trust, only to find herself drawn into a terrifying secret that threatens everything she loves.
There is an evil presence in the woodcarver's life that cannot be controlled, and Maddie watches her town fall under a shadow. One by one, people begin to die. Caught in the middle, Maddie must decide what matters most to her—and what price she is willing to pay to keep it.

The more I read Clare B. Dunkle, the more I like her books. Something about her writings, something hard to pinpoint, made this book just as fascinating to read. The only word I was able to come up with was refreshing. The author has a way of putting in a refreshing spin on familiar stories and placing them in very realistic settings. I mean, seriously, how often do we get Scottish highlander werewolf tales?

As with her previous book, there was a creepiness and edge of horror in every page.  Moments where you don’t quite know what was going to happen even as you clutched the book with a mixture of expectation, suspense and dread. Once again, as with this author’s previous book, by the time I reached the last page, it just irritated me how much more I wanted to read. I didn’t want the book to end, although not as much as the previous book.

Set in the Scottish highlands where the old ways were being pushed out, but the old beliefs were still too strong to completely disappear.  The author was able to show how sometimes, the old was able to co-exist with the new Christian religion. It was a very interesting dynamic that I felt often get left out of history books or religious discussions, since history and stories tended to follow the usual (and generally historical) reactions: where one was focused on as good and the other bad, thus led to bloodly battles.  Here, it was more "merged" where these conflicts were more subtle (for the most part).

The author has always been pretty good at showing how intentions does not equate good or bad.  My favorite side story was a minor comment from our protagonist about how even though two people dearly loved the same person, the loss of the person caused unyielding hostility towards each other.  I felt this was a very clear comment about society, intents, love and hate.  I would even say that was a comment about the whole book as a whole.  Without going too deal into the backgrounds and reveals, I just wanted to get a few things out.

One thing that did get to me was how fast the entire story went.  Although it sort of made sense and fit historically, I still felt somewhat rushed throughout the book.  It kept the tension high tough.  There were also a few things that gave me pause as I was reading through, but the overall book was so enjoyable I didn't really dwell on it.

It wasn't as complex as The Hollow Kingdom in terms of world building, but the world was very gritty and realistic with a touch of other-worldliness to everything.  This fit very well into the overall story.  I loved the fact that the author used the setting to ask a lot of interesting questions about people, beliefs and love, but since it ended so fast, I felt the answer she gave was kind of idealized.  Examples would be the werewolf explanation.  It's resolution, although intense and nerve-wracking, was also super clean-cut and somewhat unbelievable in the idea of love conquers all.   Literally, love conquers all - especially through self sacrifice.  Not my cup of tea these days.

Overall, very good book as a scary story.   Everything was very beautifully written and the setting/characters were top notch. 

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