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Review: Near the Bone

spoiler free review

Title: Near the Bone

Author: Christina Henry

Series: Standalone

Rating★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Note: I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A woman trapped on a mountain attempts to survive more than one kind of monster, in a dread-inducing horror novel from the national bestselling author Christina Henry.

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.

review header

He thinks there should be a happy ending just because he believes in one. 

Christina Henry brings to life a contemporary adult thriller with a hint of horror in her latest book Near the Bone. Like in many of her other works, the female protagonist lives in a world controlled by men–specifically in this case, Mattie’s abusive husband, William.

Although there are elements of horror, the real focus of the story is Mattie’s relationship with William. There are red flags right off the bat when we learn that William is much older than his wife and that she lives in constant fear of him. Her life is centered around him as they live alone, isolated on a showy mountain away from any prying eyes. Mattie is rarely left alone, but even on the few occasions that she is she still isn’t free. Her every thought is prefaced by what William would or wouldn’t like. Her actions are defined by her never-ending fear of setting him off.

That being said, although I intend to make this review as spoiler free as possible, I do need to issue a trigger warning for domestic and sexual abuse. As Mattie’s story unravels, we come to see that there’s more to her story than we thought and the details are pretty dark.

While the story unfolds, Mattie starts to have pieces of hold memories resurface–some new but some she simply chose to forget over time. Most notably, she finds herself being pressured by the voice of a sassy and headstrong girl called Samantha. Samantha encourages Mattie to fight back against William’s abuse and seems all-too-familiar at times.

Mattie’s psychological development through the story was very well done and I liked the way she gradually broke away from the conditioning she went through.

As I said, there are hints of horror in the story that felt secondary to the characters. At the beginning of the story Mattie uncovers signs that there is some kind of monster or creature on the mountain (we’re talking first chapter so it’s not really a spoiler). It makes some brief appearances but doesn’t take a more active role until later in the story when things between Mattie and William take a dangerous turn. After that, the story shifts its focus to Mattie’s struggle for survival. The environment, monster, and William are all forces working against her as she and her new group of allies try to escape off the mountain.

Honestly, it felt like the monster was kind of unnecessary for the story. it didn’t really fit in once we saw what was going on between Mattie and William. It felt like it took away from the real focus of the story, especially since the ending felt unresolved where the monster was concerned. I would’ve felt better about it if we had seen our characters triumph in a more significant way over the monster. Or if it played more into Mattie’s story, but as it was, it felt more like two separate stories.

Despite the monster sticking out in the story, I really enjoyed this book. I thought the ending was good, thought it left many questions unanswered, but that’s something I’ve come to expect from Christina Henry. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. She leaves the endings open to interpretation in a way that makes it fun to imagine how the characters’ lives will continue. She doesn’t tell you exactly what happens afterward, but instead paints a picture of what their future could be. In this case, she ends the story on a hopeful note and I felt that Mattie was finally on the way to self-healing. I do wish we had gotten an epilogue to find out a little more about her fate, but I also felt okay letting go and trusting that wherever life took her next she was strong enough to face it.

Overall, this was a very emotional and dark story that was a quick, fun read for fans of thriller/horror.

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