Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Review: Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Publication Date: November 7th 2017
Publisher: Hutchinson
Pages: 288 pages

Should you ever go back?
It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.
But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town's most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.
Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game,” which will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.
With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of just five claustrophobic miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of the question: can you ever outrun your past?

After binge watching the first season of "Jessica Jones", and moving swiftly onto watching "Don't trust the B---- in Apartment 23" I appear to be on something of a Krysten Ritter bender, so reading her debut novel was the next logical step.
I went in with barely any idea of what I was letting myself in for (I didn't read the blurb or seek out any information) knowing just that it was a thriller (not my usual read), and it was her first novel. In some ways I think that did the experience some favours, because I had no expectations of pre-conceived notions of what I was getting into, I just got to enjoy the ride. And what a ride it was.

This book sinks its claws into you and doesn't let go. I found myself completely gripped and unable to put it down once I'd started it. I'm always a little wary of books written by actors, because there's always that fear that they've been published not because they're good, but because they're going to sell. This is not the case here. The writing is excellent, startling prose that sometimes made me catch my breath, and really immerses you into Barrens - the claustrophobia of the town.

It's excellently paced, and peopled with curious characters. I felt like I was there, experiencing all of this with Abby. The fear, the claustrophobia, the isolation. That feeling of going back to the place you grew up and it all being too close and real and overlaid with memories, whilst you don't feel like you fit. That feeling of not being able to get a place and the memories off your skin. And Ritter deftly interweaves the mystery into all of this, until you're not sure who to trust, who's telling the truth, and even whether you can trust Abby the narrator.

The mystery itself is excellently done. Clues dropped in piecemeal to lead you down various roads, and then breathlessly brought to its conclusion in the final act. I was left guessing instead of feeling like I'd already solved it, which always makes me happy.

All in all, I loved it. It was satisfying, but didn't feel like everything was tied up with a neat bow. It was engrossing and dark without being too twisted. It was excellently written and fascinating to read. Once I'd started I found it really difficult to put it down, and stayed up late for "just one more chapter"...

If you're after a quick, well written thriller, this is definitely a must, it will linger long after you've finished.

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