Near The Bone
reviewed by Max Birner
The monster that hunts in Near The Bone is left largely to the unknown. We have little description of what it looks like, or where it has come from. All the reader knows is that it’s unusually intelligent and that it’s out for blood.
Our setting is an isolated cabin, where Mattie is trapped with her estranged and abusive husband, William. Mattie discovers strange tracks of an animal that William becomes obsessed about hunting down, giving her ample time to plan her next move. While her husband might have weapons and no inhibition to kill, Mattie has been living and analyzing the decisions and triggers of William for years now, and she knows how to conspire the perfect escape. But of course, nothing goes as planned. Three hikers stumble upon the area of the cabin, one of whom recognizes Mattie. As we slowly unravel the covered-up past of Mattie in a series of flashbacks, we also undercover the secrets of William.
Though thoroughly a monster horror, Near The Bone also combines both a creature feature and a domestic thriller, a mix which is sure to leave the reader on edge. With the presence of a wolf-like animal that toys with its prey, and a far more terrifying William who’s set on getting revenge, who’s to say which one is actually the monster?
Mattie is the highlight of the novel, and what elevates the suspense and anxiety of the story is how she’s constantly trying to say the right thing and never make the wrong move out of the fear of William’s violent impulses. While she may be able to lead a crusade back down the mountain while avoiding the creature and her husband, she’ll need to conquer her biggest fears before she’ll ever feel true freedom.