Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review: The Bone Key by Sarah Monette

I had yet to be introduced to Sarah Monette - ironically she was recommended to me while I was in the middle of reading this book.

The Bone Key is more literary than I normally go for, but it reminds me of classic old English mysteries (to the point where I had to remind myself the stories were in fact set in 19th century America). The book contains ten interconnected short stories, presented in chronological order, and overtly inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and M.R. James. And it has me thinking I need to read more Lovecraft.

Monette produces a sympathetic protagonist who inadvertently attunes himself to the spiritual world in the first story and then ends up a kind of psychic troubleshooter. All against his will, of course, he never seeks out problems. Rather, he stumbles into them.

Kyle Murchison Booth hunts ghosts, deals with a family curse and has problems with an incubus. (Yes, I did say incubus, not succubus). Each story is a different incident in his life, and the book doesn't pretend to be a novel.

The thing I appreciated the most was Monette's treatment of homosexuality in a society in which it is not acceptable - subtly, without anachronisms, and with a measure of loneliness that recalls the old term "confirmed bachelor." Monette's style is elegant and I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes period mysteries as well as to fans of supernatural horror.


Four and a half stars.