Hey, GoH gang! Dustin here again with some more Recent Reads that I’d love to recommend to y’all. I rarely have a bad time with the books I read. It takes a really special, not-for-me book to really get a bad rating from me. Fortunately, for this round, I still have a book that I think you should read if you haven’t already.

Near the Bone by Christina Henry

Either I’m just in a really generous mood with my reading or this was genuinely another 5 out of 5 read. I suspect the latter with Christina Henry’s Near the Bone. First and foremost, I want to give out a content warning as the book tackles sensitive subject matter, so please proceed with caution. It is not an extreme horror novel or anything like that but the book does paint a pretty vivid image of abuse in this one, and the other images she paints through the written word are just as vivid and effective.

In this novel, a young woman and her older husband are seemingly caught in the crosshairs of an intelligent and deadly creature. This situation, along with the arrival of strangers alters their routine and sends the young woman on a journey of self-discovery and resilience against monsters both human and otherwise.

The book is set during winter and right off the bat, Christina Henry is able to give me a sense of this cold, harsh atmosphere. I really like it when a book is not only able to give an interesting story but also a main character that is worth rooting for, which is what I see in the main protagonist, Mattie. She goes through so many terrible situations in the book and I loved her triumphs. I dug how grounded the author was able to make Mattie’s journey. She’s not a very physically able person so I liked that she doesn’t Rambo out all of a sudden as the plot progresses. There’s a lot for her to overcome both physically and mentally. It’s a survival story that works on both of those levels as the group of survivors must band together to escape two foes: an unknown creature and a monstrous human individual that has tormented Mattie and will make sure she does not escape their clutches.

The book is written in the third person but we’re following Mattie the whole way through, and we’re given insights into the things she interacts with. I thought this was a great way to limit what we know so that we only know as much as Mattie knows, which makes certain events difficult to make out. This allows the book to dish out its bread and butter: suspense. There are plenty of tense scenes here where the threat of violence is so close and we know that the violence that occurs has gravity and weight to it. While it’s not a gory book, Near the Bone surprised me with some sudden spurts of gore and violence after I’m wound up with suspense. Remember: we see what Mattie sees and hears what she hears. We could be, like, reading about something dragging across the snow that lets her know that the threat is near only to suddenly, blam, hit us with an attack.

Beneath it all is this very personal journey. This fight for survival is also a turning point in Mattie’s life as she must shed what she was conditioned to be like and strive to salvage her life and her autonomy.

I don’t really have any major complaints. However, I wish we got more from the ending. I know, I wanted it to wrap into a neat little bow but in a way, it does as we’re given a bit of finality to a major aspect of Mattie’s story with the remaining left up for interpretation.

Overall, Near the Bone is a pretty impressive read. It had me curling my toes with expectation. Cleverly, it maneuvers tension, driving this reader to want to know what happens next. I did not have a dull time reading this, there are always new developments but it’s not, like, just something happening just so the author can say it’s not boring. No, all of the events actually serve the story, and I really liked that. It’s able to push the dramatic elements and meld it together seamlessly with the horror elements, making for a very effective and engaging narrative.

And that’s all she wrote for this edition of Recent Reads! I got Near the Bone here in the Philippines through Fully Booked via Shopee but is available on Amazon in the link below, but should be available wherever books are sold!

*Affiliate Link

Near the Bone by Christina Henry is available to purchase here.*

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