- Paperback: 248 pages
- Publisher: Prime Books (23 Oct. 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0809557770
- ISBN-13: 978-0809557776
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2 x 20.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,420,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Bone Key Paperback – 23 Oct 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
In fact I was quite excited to see the new cover as I thought for a moment that this was a second volume - I've hoped that she would write some more tales of Kyle Murchison which, while in the great tradition of ghost stories, are better than most of her forebears and, in my experience, unique in being all about the same hero who is haunted rather than one off tales of those who stumble unawares into haunted places and situations. Poor Kyle Murchison draws the hauntings to himself and has to try to learn to live with his experiences.
Thanks to Ms. Monette I've found myself going back to the classic writers of ghost stories, Kipling, James, leFanau, Arden and Onions among others.
And I'm still hoping for another helping of Kyle Muchison tales.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
My favorite stories are "The Venebretti Necklace" - Booth and the fabulous and unflappable Miss Coburn dig (quite literally) into the story of a cursed necklace,
"Wait for Me" - the Museum comes into possession of some very nasty diaries and "The Wall of Clouds" - Booth goes to a very peculiar spa to recuperate from a severe illness.
The stories are supposed to be Booth's personal journals. They don't seem to be firmly set in any particular time or place. They SEEM to be set in a moderate sized city somewhere in New England during the 1930's. However, this is never spelled out and the setting is kept rather vague. I think this adds to the fantastic nature of the stories and keeps the reader just a little off balance.
I am very pleased to have found these stories and I hope Ms. Monette continues to give us some more of Booth's experiences.
Simply put, if you love M. R. James, you'll love this book: Kyle Murchison Booth is a direct descendant of James's buttoned-up academics who found themselves staring down supernatural forces, and the writing style is a deliberate echo of James's prose, as well. As you progress through these interconnected short stories, you see Booth encounter ghosts of all types, often with accompanying dusty pages of Things That Have Been Forgotten, and only his careful attention--and unique and sadly-earned ability to attract the strange--and quiet dedication can help put them to rest. Monette does a remarkable job with this type of "quiet horror"--things are always subtle, but never silent, and there are scenes and ideas in here, such as the ominous elevator in "The Wall of Clouds" or the trees in "The Inheritance of Barnabas Wilcox" that are almost excruciatingly terrifying in both their presentation and their implications. However, I want to make special mention of the effect this collection has as a sort of mosaic-novel about Booth himself.
He's an immensely likeable narrator--reserved, repressed, shy, but remarkably brave and occasionally very kind--and his loneliness, as reinforced over the course of these stories, is so painful that it became for me, at least by the end of "Drowning Palmer" almost another aspect of the overall horror. This is a man whose essential fear of people keeps coming so close to giving way into actual connection with people who genuinely seem to appreciate him--most notably Miss Coburn in "The Venebretti Necklace" and Ratcliffe in "Drowning Palmer", but most horribly in "Elegy for a Demon Lover"--only to be thwarted, somehow, and almost always off the page, between the stories themselves. Every time Booth makes a connection, he loses it again, slipping away from people he's bonded with, and I have enough respect for Monette to believe that this is deliberate, rather than a mere pressing of the "reset" button between stories. Booth is, as the back copy on my book notes, almost supernatural himself, and so the reader can see his continued separation from the rest of humanity as yet another sign of how damaged he's been by the events contained in and following from "Bringing Helena Back." As far as implications go, it's one of the subtlest and most horrifying that I've ever encountered.
This is, then, a stellar collection of horror fiction in the best M. R. James tradition, and I hope that anyone who gives the free sample portion a chance will go on to buy the rest of it, and therefore encourage Monette to produce more Booth stories as soon as possible.
The stories in The Bone Key are pure gold. Short, with as much of the stories left to the imagination as she puts into words, the language is reminiscent of the old fiction Monette says she loves. Her character, Kyle Murchison Booth, is eccentric yet sympathetic and appealing. Since he is such a shy, lone man it takes time to accumulate knowledge of the other people in his world. But slowly and surely Booth's experiences begin to build a population of interesting fringe characters -- some dead, some living. Booth's brushes with the unnatural are simultaneously creepy and thought-provoking.
If you're looking for subtle, literary stories with themes of horror (and how the most excruciating horror arises from the way people treat each other), try The Bone Key. You'll read these stories more than once!
That said, fans of classic horror fiction may enjoy this collection more than I did. I read twice, then donated book 2 local library, w/ enthusiastic description of Monette's writing.
Local library mentioned not getting many donations in science fiction / fantasy. Youth often like 2 read in those categories more than in other cats. So 2 promote reading 4 youth, my thought is 2 donate / 2 request buys of writers of sf/f who can *write.* Writing as magnificent as Monette's will increase appreciation 4 excellent writing anywhere.