Thursday, December 21, 2017

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter
Release Date - November 7, 2017
Publisher Website - Penguin Random House Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  288 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Should you ever go back?

It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town's most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game,” which will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of just five claustrophobic miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of the question: can you ever outrun your past?
There's something about your home town that always pulls you back. Its hold is inexplicable. Bonfire looks at what bonds us to our home towns, and the memories that colour the perceptions we hold. Krysten Ritter has crafted a dark, atmospheric mystery that is entirely engrossing.

Abby will inevitably draw comparisons to Jessica Jones. At first glance it is easy to see why. The similarities between the two are, I feel, only surface deep. They both are kick ass women who have to put their own problems aside to fight for what is right. They both speak their mind, and have a variety of flaws that would immediately get them classified as 'unlikable'. Abby, however, is much more willing to stand up for people. She takes pride in her job, and that speaks volumes about who her character is. She's not someone who reluctantly gets involved, she's eager and willing. I am thankful for female characters like Abby  (and Jessica for that matter). They show complex women who make mistakes and are messy. They show imperfect women who are still worthy and capable. I want to see a wide range of female characters of all backgrounds and characters like Abby make me feel like progress is possible and happening.

The book offers up another flawed female character in Kaycee who is a friend - slash - enemy of Abby's from her school days. Much of the novel is spent looking at her Abby's past and Kaycee is a large part of that. She's the 'mean girl' from every high school movie you have seen, but Ritter manages to infuse some depth into her character, and hammers in the point that perhaps Abby didn't know everything about Kaycee. We get a picture of a girl who is more complex than she appears, and I loved seeing that unravel.

This novel sets itself up as a thriller, but it is really a character driven novel at its heart. It boasts elements of a legal thriller, and the atmosphere of a good mystery but I would hesitate to call it either. I find this novel works best when it allows itself to dig into Abby's past. It shines when it lets her be the reason we care about the plot. Krysten Ritter is really good at making the readers connect with the characters and everything else falls into place as a result.

I often find myself disappointed in the endings of these mystery novels. They rarely live up to the hype that precedes them, and often feel predictable. The ending to Bonfire surpassed what I expected. The reveals were darker than I anticipated, and the mystery ended with a satisfying conclusion. It's a perfect match for the gritty tone of the novel, and tied the novel together nicely.

I knew that Krysten Ritter was a talented actress but after finishing Bonfire I can now say that she's also a talented writer. Bonfire is a solid debut that boasts a gritty feel, and a page turning plot. I eagerly await whatever Krysten writes next, and highly recommend this book to mystery fans.

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