I actually had this one pre-ordered long before I got accepted for the eARC, because Christina Henry is one of my auto-buy authors and I was waiting impatiently for Waterstones to bring out a signed edition of Near the Bone to match the rest of my series.
Rating: 4 stars!
Thanks to Titan Books for the eARC of this book. It has not affected my honest review.
Content Warnings: death, violence, gore, physical and verbal abuse, implied rape, kidnapping, murder, child abuse.
About the book:
Mattie can’t remember a time before she and William lived alone on a mountain together. She must never make him upset. But when Mattie discovers the mutilated body of a fox in the woods, she realizes that they’re not alone after all.
There’s something in the woods that wasn’t there before, something that makes strange cries in the night, something with sharp teeth and claws.
When three strangers appear on the mountaintop looking for the creature in the woods, Mattie knows their presence will anger William. Terrible things happen when William is angry.
What did I think?
I ended up listening to the audiobook of this on release date, having had it preordered as soon as the links dropped. I highly, highly recommend the audiobook for this one. The whole atmosphere of the book is unbelievably unnerving. The narrator, Lisa Flanagan, does a fantastic job. Her characterisation of Mattie is really good and the whole story is really engaging as she tells it so well. It’s a quick listen, especially as once I started I couldn’t even think about stopping until I’d finished the whole story.
The way that Mattie’s past unfolded is played out spectacularly, and leans into the unnerving atmosphere as I found myself helplessly predicting what was about to happen with absolutely no way to fix or change it. William was completely and utterly unbearable. I spent most of my time reading this book muttering under my breath about how much I hate him. It’s a lot. This book is dark and delves into a lot of awful topics, including frequent discussion of abuse and reference to past rape, but I do feel like they were handled with as much sensitivity as could be expected for a horror novel.
I wasn’t expecting the fantastical elements to kick in in the way that they did, and ho boy did they kick in hard. There’s something terrifying about getting halfway through a book and feeling that everything is okay. When you get that ‘ending’ feeling in the middle of a book, you just know it’s all going to go horribly, horribly wrong. And it did. In the end I loved this book as much as I’ve loved all of Christina Henry’s previous books, and while I adore her retellings (and I’m looking forward to Horseman a LOT), I have been really enjoying the non-retelling horror she’s been writing!
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Release Date: 13th April 2021