“He’d always harbored a fear that she still lay there. Her dark bones in wait. To rise. To get them.”
Reading Loreth Anne White is a sensory experience. You can feel the biting wind in your hair, whispering in your ear like a lover might. The snow crunches and powders beneath your feet. Frost alights on your fingertips, and the sky is vast overhead, raining stars over the horizon. It’s as if you are there, walking side-by-side with the characters, hearing a bird shriek in the wilderness, seeing headlights flash in the dark. It’s my favourite thing about her writing – that acute sense of place, and it never wavers.
The Dark Bones is a sequel to A Dark Lure, and I was excited to see White returning to this world. Although I didn’t remember everything about Olivia, Cole, Tori and Ace, I remembered enough to want to check in – see how they were doing, and get reacquainted with their town and the folk who live there. Although they’re kept on the periphery, I sense another novel in those characters – Olivia and Cole’s romance especially seemed to have stuttered to a halt – so I’m anxious to see if White returns.
The novel switches between the past and the present, circling around Rebecca North, once an insecure, shy teenager, and now a police officer based in British Columbia, who returns to her hometown after her father commits suicide. His cabin is also razed to the ground in an “accidental” fire, and knowing that her Dad was working on a cold case when he died, Rebecca is suspicious of the blaze. She begins to investigate both her father’s death, and the cold case he was fixated on – that of the disappearances of local teenagers Whitney and Trevor, who vanished twenty years back. Her machinations bring her into close quarters with Olivia (whose daughter Tori is suspected to have been near the cabin when it burned), and Rebecca’s ex-boyfriend, Ash Haugen, whose land borders Broken Bar Ranch, and who cheated on her with Whitney the summer they turned seventeen.
It’s all quite a quagmire. In the beginning, I struggled to relate to the characters. Ash was a closed book, and I grew quickly exhausted with the idea of Rebecca being hung up on a guy she went to high school with. Slowly though, White hooked me in, as she has a tendency to do, and the tension ratcheted up to a fever pitch. I appreciate that as a novelist, she’s not afraid to go to dark places, and truly, the reality of what happened to Ash, to Whitney, to Trevor and more… it’s disturbing, and raw, and bloody.
As the book drew to a close, it became clear why Rebecca was so frustrating in the beginning – because she’d sublimated so many memories of her past in order to move on, and coming back was like a regression of sorts. The landscape of her childhood was a hell of forgotten feelings, and rivered with the ghost of her father, whom she’d been too late to help.
Ash too, was unable – or unwilling – to work through what had happened to him, and so, they were both stumbling, like newborn deer, into the dark.
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I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley and Montlake Romance, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to both!
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