I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Near the Bone is the story of Mattie, a young woman living alone on a mountain with her abusive, much older husband. Something isn’t right on the mountain. Something besides the abuse Mattie can never seem to escape. A new creature has made the mountain its home. It’s huge, a master at staying hidden, and far too intelligent to be a bear or any other average predator. Can Mattie find a way to escape them mountain, and leave both of her monsters behind?
I flew through Near the Bone in less than 24 hours. I’ve never read anything by Christina Henry, but I found her prose to be compulsively readable. There’s something about her writing style that really drew me in. It’s like the words just disappeared from the page, leaving a movie of sorts in their place. And while this is a novel about a preternatural creature, and while there are a handful of other characters in the narrative, this is largely a character study of Mattie. I loved watching her reclaim her courage and her voice over the course of the novel, as well as her mission to uncover her own past. She was without a doubt the star of the show.
While the story was incredibly compelling, there was a lack of depth outside of Mattie’s internal story that left me feeling a bit dissatisfied. If it were a movie, Near the Bone would have been a made-for-tv, SyFy cut, not a big-budget HBO or theatrical release. This could totally be an issue on my end, though, instead of with the book itself. I tend to find a lot of horror novels a bit shallow, and I think this is because my first loves of the genre were Dean Koontz and Stephen King. As both of these authors tend to pen chonkers, I think it’s an unfair comparison to make with shorter novels, but it’s one that I can’t seem to help making. However, Near the Bone fared better than most in my mind due to the depth of Mattie’s story. I just wish a bit more of that wonderful depth had been applied to the creature itself, and to the mountain survival scenario.
If you’re in the market for a well-paced survival horror with a compelling protagonist and a slim page count, Near the Bone should definitely be at the top of your list.
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