Bonechiller, by Graham McNamee

bonechillerAuthor: Graham McNamee
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (Random House)
Genre: Horror
Pages: 294
Call number: Y McNamee

Don’t look for it on the map. The place is so small it doesn’t even get a dot. Once a year they get a new WELCOME TO sign put up, but it doesn’t last a week before it’s so full of buckshot holes you can’t even tell the name of the place, and you sure don’t seem welcome.

Nowhere–officially known as Harvest Cove. Tucked away in the Big Empty that makes up most of Canada . . . .

If you’re looking for somewhere to hide, this is it.

Harvest Cove is a tiny, out-of-the-way community trying hard to be a summer cottage location, with not much success, and in the winter the population dwindles. Perfect for Danny and his dad, who are drifting from place to place on the run from the past. His dad takes a temp job as the winter caretaker of the marina, and Danny goes to school with army brats from Base Borden. His core group is Pike, loyal but psycho and obsessed with explosives; his anxiety-ridden brother Howie; and Ash, a fierce, half-Ojibwa boxer that he has a mad crush on. It’s a cold, bleak winter, and late one night on his way home, Danny is attacked by a huge white beast that blends into the ice and snow until it is nearly invisible. Still, he manages to see enough to terrify him, and the speed of its attack makes it nearly impossible for him to escape. But escape he does, after the beast stings him on the hand with its sharp tongue. That’s when the nightmare really begins. Because that’s when Danny realizes he didn’t get away after all. It’s still hunting him night after night, toying with him, and soon his friends are in danger too.

This had a good, monster movie feeling to it and is one of those books in which the title works on several levels. Because it’s written in present tense, with short, fragmented sentences, it feels like Danny is actually telling you the story as it happens. There aren’t a ton of books written in present tense, and it’s interesting to see what a different reading experience that is. It’s very cinematic, and it works well to convey Danny’s panicky frantic scrambling during the beast attacks. The descriptions of this tiny town during a freezing winter is excellent — much of the action happens at night out in the below-freezing wasteland of ice and snow, and the sense of isolation, of there being nowhere to run and no-one to help, is terrifying.

The descriptions of the monster are cool, very vivid and scary and menacing. But I don’t feel the Wendigo-ish mythology was really put to use, so the monster wasn’t nearly as effective as it could have been. There were some cool variations and extrapolations on Wendigo lore, and it’s not like I expected the characters to snap their fingers and go “A-ha! Wendigo! We know this for sure because it is exactly like the Wikipedia entry!” but I was annoyed by how vague the author left it. It’s clear he did his research. Did he have to leave it all out?

That might just be me over thinking things, however. Overall, this is a good, scary, tension-filled story, and with such an amazing cover, I think it’s definitely one to pick up. If you read this one, let me know in the comments what you thought about the monster, and if I really am just super picky.

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One Response to “Bonechiller, by Graham McNamee”

  1. I thougt most of the time that raymond was the monster and didnt know how to control when he would go monster mode. cant wait to read the next book. Says:

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