Wednesday 28 August 2013

The Bones Of You, by Gary McMahon (advance review)

Some time back (in this post), I spot-lighted the new Gary McMahon short novel that Earthling Publications are publishing at Halloween, saying that it was a great read.  Well, I've now been given the go-ahead to publish my review, so here's exactly what I thought of it.

I love you…I love the bones of you.

Adam Morris is a man with a past, starting again - after a messy divorce - in a rented house and with a mindless job, desperate to be a good father to his young daughter Jess.  The house next door is derelict and was once the home of Katherine Moffatt, a serial killer who struck every Halloween, gathering together her Radiant Children.  When strange things begin to happen on the run up to this Halloween, Adam begins to suspect that Jess might be in very grave danger indeed.

For me, The Bones Of You marks a change of pace for McMahon and shows his range, following the grand (almost operatic) sweep of The Concrete Grove trilogy with a piece that is intimate, however scary and unpleasant it might be.  With a very small cast, claustrophobic locations (his house, next door, a scary underpass and a motorway café pretty much covers it), a love of karate and a great sense of family ties, duties and deceit, this unfolds the story at a good pace, building suspense and tension with a sleight of hand that is so well crafted it’s almost invisible.  Adam’s faltering romance with Carole, a work colleague, is as beautiful and touching as his strained relations with his drug-and-booze addicted ex-wife are painful and destructive.  Jess is well drawn, a young girl who’s not quite sure of what’s happening but who knows she has a part to play in keeping it all together and beyond this is the spectre of Katherine Moffatt, who looms over the story like a dark cloud.

I won’t spoil anything but there’s a shocking incident at one point which turns a lot of what has already happened on its head and suddenly you’re wrong-footed, not at all sure of where McMahon is going to lead you next and that’s both exhilarating and terrifying.

Dark and driving but with moments of real hope, this is not as bleak as some of McMahon’s previous material but works all the better for it.

Very highly recommended.

More details are here, at the Earthling Publications site and this is sure to sell out so get in quick.

Honestly, you won't regret it...

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