The Bone Key Paperback – Oct 23 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Writing in the tradition of M.R. James and Algernon Blackwood, Monette reconstructs the traditional English ghost story—insinuated horror, no gratuitous sex or violence—with a decidedly modern-day approach in this laudable collection of 10 necromantic mystery stories featuring introverted museum archivist Kyle Murchison Booth. Noteworthy selections include Elegy for a Demon Lover, which chronicles Booth's entanglement with a seductive otherworldly entity who teaches him about pleasure and pain and the shadowed places in-between. In the brilliantly Lovecraftian Bringing Helena Back, Booth agrees to help an old college friend bring his wife back from the dead, with horrifying results. Booth also investigates the skeleton of a woman sealed within the basement walls of the museum where he works, a house haunted by the spirit of a young girl and the ghost of a murdered private school student. Cerebral, ethereal and stylishly understated, this entrancing collection will appeal to fans of literary horror, dark fantasy and supernatural mystery. (Jan.)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
If you like your horror with a bit of a twist, I recommend this book. It does not rely on blood and gore to get its point across. It is subtle, often funny, sometimes sad, and always disturbing.
The stories in The Bone Key are pure gold. Short, with as much of the stories left to the imagination as she puts into words, the language is reminiscent of the old fiction Monette says she loves. Her character, Kyle Murchison Booth, is eccentric yet sympathetic and appealing. Since he is such a shy, lone man it takes time to accumulate knowledge of the other people in his world. But slowly and surely Booth's experiences begin to build a population of interesting fringe characters -- some dead, some living. Booth's brushes with the unnatural are simultaneously creepy and thought-provoking.
If you're looking for subtle, literary stories with themes of horror (and how the most excruciating horror arises from the way people treat each other), try The Bone Key. You'll read these stories more than once!
Booth is a retiring character who works as an archivist at a museum. The setting feels quite Victorian and Gothic, but there are phones, though not much more evidence, so far, of a modern world. The first story is "Bringing Helena Back"--and if that sounds creepy, it is. These are stories reminiscent of old fashioned horror, full of eccentric characters, dark secrets, vengeful spirits. There's no warm and fuzzy ghosts back to save the living. Life can be tragic and disturbing in this world. Cursed necklaces, family secrets, common human failings that turn tragic, murder, haunting, demons... it's all here.
I love a good ghost story and it's been too long since I've read one. This collection is among the best.
'Elegy to a Demon Lover' is one of the most haunting stories I think I have ever read, and the book is worth buying for that one alone, but the others are also excellent.
If I had to pick out favorite stories, I would say "The Venebretti Necklace", which has a wonderful secondary character among other virtues, or "Elegy for a Demon Lover", which brought tears to my eye, but really, they're all absorbing and a wonderful reading experience for a chilly autumn evening.
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