Most helpful positive review
87 of 92 people found the following review helpful
Just beautiful, powerful, packed with mystery - loved it
on 9 December 2012
I can't tell you how surprised I am to have enjoyed Bone River so much. I wasn't expecting such a complex, meaty plot and anticipated more of an historical romance; more froth than grit. Happy to say I couldn't have been more wrong.
Bone River is a tightly woven mystery based around secrets and lies, both past and present, reaching out to impact upon Leonie Monroe Russell. Leonie has a hard life surviving in the American Northwest Pacific (Washington State) during the mid nineteenth century. During the day she works on the cold, harsh oyster beds but in the evening Leonie devotes her true self to the study of local Native American history, legend and culture. I enjoyed the unique contrast of a woman with a spiritual nature and keen intelligence undertaking such basic physical work; creates a balance, makes her more real. Leonie's father, also an ethnologist, is alive for just the briefest part of the novel but remains a catalyst for all that happens to her and he's a powerful, forceful presence rarely out of her thoughts.
Leonie's husband, Junius, is a much older man and they share what can only be termed a marriage of convenience. They're happy enough on the surface, there's a kind of love, but it soon becomes apparent their relationship is compromised by emotional and sexual frustration. When two key events happen almost simultaneously; the arrival of the mysterious Daniel and the unearthing of an ancient mummy, it's not just the history of the Native American Indians that's revealed. Events begin to spiral out of control and Leonie has no choice but to stand by and watch as the life she's built with Junius slowly crumbles away beneath the weight of buried secrets.
Megan Chance uses her beautifully descriptive style to bring the landscape and seasonal weather conditions of the area to life. Her ability to mix the inner turmoil of her characters with the battering winds, intense dark and rain adds much to the atmosphere while her confidence in writing about this period in history, adds a sense of reality that's not easy to accomplish.
There's an intriguing sub-plot with dream sequences, nightmares, and a rich backdrop of Native American Indian storytelling and legend which adds another depth, gives another dimension, to the story. It's vaguely possible you'll find some of the language and attitudes shown by a few of the characters towards the Native American Indian population a little harsh but; it's essential with this type of historical fiction that you create a sense of reality and there was no political correctness in the mid nineteenth century.
Do I have a negative? There are always parts of a novel that you'd have written differently had you been the author. I'd have to say Bone River could use a little more pace, a little more tension, because it drags slightly in parts. That's my only negative comment. There's enough reality, history, mystery, hardship and heartache in this novel to suit almost anyone who enjoys beautiful prose, solid dialogue, believable characters and an intelligent, thoughtful story. I loved Bone River and it surprised me greatly in a good way.