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The Bone Key Paperback – 23 Oct 2007

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • 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)

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By Joyeuse VINE VOICE on 4 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this when it was first published and am so pleased to see it's now being reprinted. So many good books vanish all to soon and it's good to see this one back again.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lushly written, with some of the creepiest ghost stories I've ever read, laced by humor and sharp intelligence. A perfect book for curling up with on a crisp autumn evening, with the darkness closing in.
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Format: Paperback
I'm very fond of the classic ghost story, and these are excellent contributions to the genre, beautifully chilling tales after the gentle but deeply troubling style of MR James. The central narrator, Kyle Murchison Booth, is realised with precision and the period flavour of the tales never slips.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars 33 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now these are ghost stories! 9 Mar. 2014
By Julie Ratcliffe - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been buying a number of books purported to contain ghost stories. Unfortunately, many turned out to be horror stories, monster stories or even contes cruels. So I am very happy to have found this collection. Sarah Monette has created a memorable narrator in the person of Kyle Murchison Booth. Although he is somewhat socially awkward, he gives a vivid and often dryly amusing description of the unusual events which center around himself and his work place, the Parrington Museum.
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Low-Key Horror from a Great Writer 19 Feb. 2012
By Lauren James - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It shouldn't be news by now that Sarah Monette writes absolutely brilliantly, but she's best known for her outstanding fantasy work (which deserves to be entirely, rather than only partially, in print), and I'd like to make a case for this collection of short stories getting some well-deserved attention from the horror community, too, who may not have discovered Monette yet.

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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling horror stories in a classical vein 25 May 2014
By Brigid Keely - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sarah Monette's "The Bone Key: The Necromantic Mysteries of Kyle Murchison Booth" is a collection of short stories about a lonely, awkward man from a cursed family. Saddled with the ability to do and see things normal people are unable to do or see, Booth is unable to simply sink into his simple and boring academic life and bury himself in obscure work. Instead he is called again and again to deal with dark forces he would rather run screaming from. Booth thinks of himself as a coward, as weak, but over and over again he faces demons -his and others- and faces them down. This is a fantastic collection of stories.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior literary creepiness 27 Dec. 2007
By Glinda Good - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love it when an author takes the time and trouble to include an introduction, or forward. Monette took the time, and what she said about literature and horror struck a chord with me. Monette names James and Lovecraft as two important influences on her desire to write fantastic fiction, noting that although she loves their use of language and crafting of story, she missed a more modern examination of the sexual and psychological aspects of characters.

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!
4.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Monette - 1 of best writers living 8 Feb. 2014
By V Smith - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Monette's tribute 2 Victorian / early 20th century horror authors. Lovecraft & all them. I LOVE Monette's use of language & I like her characters & her plots. I want 2 go visit Booth's museum! & rummage around in the basements. Happy 2 read anything Monette writes.

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.
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