Review: Near the Bone by Christina Henry

Near the Bone

Christina Henry

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.

Publisher: Berkley Books

Published: April 13th 2021

Kidnapping, Murder, Physical/Emotional/Domestic Abuse, Gaslighting, Rape, Death, Gore, Blood Depiction, Violence, Animal Death

As someone who has been getting into Henry’s books as of late and would consider themselves a fan… This was a bit of a disappointment? Sadly?

Let me start with the positives, because that’ll help me feel better about not liking this as much as I wanted– This was a very atmospheric book. We’re on this mountain, we have no idea where we are, it felt cold, claustrophobic, bleak. This also had a real solid start to it. It was promising and had me intrigued– who is Mattie? How did she get here? Wait, punishment??? What’s that thing in the woods??? What is HAPPENING?

“Mattie didn’t believe in happy endings. She didn’t even believe in happy middles. It was only at that beginning part of the story, when you didn’t know any better, that you could be happy and carefree. Once life piled up on you, happiness was impossible.”

I also really came to enjoy the off the screen slasher/action that happens. We never see the monster in the woods, never get to see the slasher like gore and horror. The implications and aftermath were enough for me.

Now, I liked Mattie on a surface level. I sympathized with Mattie– I mean, who wouldn’t? The situation she’s in, the trauma she’s endured… her story was heartbreaking and hard as hell to read… However, I never connected with her. She didn’t feel real or palpable in a way. And I won’t lie, yes, she’s a survivor in more ways than one, but she also just felt lucky at times when it came to certain situations? I don’t know, a lot of this book and plot devices felt convenient.

So, I understand that our villain, William, doesn’t need a backstory or anything to make him a sympathetic character– sometimes people are vile human beings and you don’t need to know the reason to acknowledge that they are so far from redemption. However, as a fictional character, yes, I despised him and waited on his end, but he was so one dimensional. Every other character was flat as a matter of fact other than Mattie. And again, I get it– this is her story… but the secondary cast felt like a waste of time.

Even the monster felt like an afterthought, an addition that wasn’t really necessary. This story was disturbing enough… this felt like an underdeveloped thing and I can’t verbalize how much the lack of necessary this addition to the story was. I get there could be some sort of message or metaphor happening here… but it didn’t hit the mark… and I know I’m not the only one who would’ve enjoyed this more if it stayed simple as a domestic thriller.

The ending, was also surprisingly unsatisfying? And I say surprisingly because… no spoilers, but I do tend to like the type of endings that was presented here, yet with how lack luster this story was, I guess something has to give… and this wasn’t it.

Listen, I feel I’m being more harsh on this book than I initially planned– this book was just mediocre in a way that over time kind of made me more upset the more I sat on this review? I appreciate this being a fast-paced read… I just wish execution was up to par.

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