Read The Bone Key: The Necromantic Mysteries of Kyle Murchison Booth by Sarah Monette Free Online
Book Title: The Bone Key: The Necromantic Mysteries of Kyle Murchison Booth|
The author of the book: Sarah Monette
Edition: Wildside Press
Date of issue: October 23rd 2007
ISBN 13: 9780809557776
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 593 KB
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Loaded: 2087 times
Reader ratings: 6.1
Read full description of the books:
Admirers of M.R. James will discover much to dote on in this collection of linked short stories revolving around a museum archivist specializing in rare manuscripts, who has the unenviable misfortune of routinely confronting the bizarre and the not-so-natural. Sarah Monette has crafted and polished 10 pieces of gothic horror that harken back to the classic "bump in the night" tales of the 19th Century.
Eschewing gore in favor of atmosphere, Monette creates visions of intelligent, nuanced dread. She won't make you scream aloud from sudden moments of in-your-face terror, but she will conjure icy fingers to squeeze your lungs and steal your breath away.
Despite getting her inspiration from masters like Lovecraft and James, Monette recognized the shortcomings of such writers when it came to character development...not to mention casual racism, smack-bottom gender inequality, and homophobia. Therefore, in her intro to the collection, Monette states that her intent was to distill the above masters' prodigious ability to manufacture fear, and channel it into stories unstained by distasteful "isms" and peopled with characters worth caring about.
She succeeded, and the result is our protagonist, Kyle Munchinson Booth.
Over the course of these stories, we come to know Mr. Booth as a highly intelligent, well educated person who suffers from almost debilitating shyness and a pathological need to solve mysteries. He is tall, lanky, socially awkward, and insecure, despite being extremely capable at his work. He lost his parents at a young age, grew up with the nastiest of guardians, and is gay, an orientation that adds to his isolation given the time in which he lives (i.e., early 20th century).
Booth is a good man and it's hard not to like him. The relationship that develops between him and the reader during the course of the stories adds considerably to their effectiveness.
The first three stories, "Bringing Helena Back," "The Venebretti Necklace," and "The Bone Key," left me very underwhelmed. They were well-written and easy to read, but the ghost element was pedestrian and lacked the oomph to move the needle on the fear meter. From these stories, however, we do learn about the museum where Booth works, about his unrequited love for his best friend, and that he lives under a family curse, which is explored in the title story.
A major upgrade occurs with story #4, "Wait for Me." In this one, Monette finally got my creep organ tingling, and left me experiencing heebies and jeebies for days afterwards whenever I passed a mirror. Following that gem is "Drowning Palmer," a solid effort that finds Booth revisiting his boarding school days in a story themed around bullying, the wolf pack mentality and the stain of abuse that lingers on those that perpetrate it.
The next two stories are my favorites in the collection and show what Monette can do when she's firing on all cylinders. First up, "The Inheritance of Barnabas Wilcox," which reads like a perfect M.R. James pastiche. In it, Booth finds himself coming the aide of one of his boarding school tormentors in a plot revolving around a dark quest for immortality. The end is absolutely flawless.
Second in the "best of collection" double header is "Elegy for a Demon Lover," during which we finally see Booth address/confront/embrace his sexuality in a story that is both gorgeously written and achingly powerful. Full of love, loneliness, passion, and gut-wrenching despair, the end will leave all but the heartless moved. When I think of the character of Booth, this is the story that springs to mind.
Next up is the longest story in the collection. "The Wall of Clouds" finds Booth seriously ill and on the verge of death following the events of the previous story (Note: the cause of Booth's illness is never explained, but Monette makes it clear in the afterward, and I think knowing this adds something to this story). Booth is sent to one of those convalescent hotels that are not-quite-a-hospital to rest and recover. Well, it turns out that an abnormally high number of people staying at the hotel have a nasty habit of contracting a terminal case of the deads, and Booth finds himself X-filing the situation.
The penultimate story,"The Green Glass Paperweight," is another terrific piece that sheds light on our hero. It explores the history and nature of the tumultuous relationship between Booth and his cold, abusive stepparents, and the destructive power of hate.
The last story, "Listening to Bone," is very forgettable...so let's go ahead and forget it.
This is a quality collection. If it wasn't for my lack of enthusiam for the first 3 stories and the last one, the rest of the tales would have earned a solid 4 stars, with a couple of five star ribbons for my two favorites. However, judging all of the stories en masse, I will have to settle for a strong "I like it."
Thus, 3.0 to 3.5 stars. Recommended.
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Read information about the authorMy pseudonym is Katherine Addison. Katherine reviews nonfiction. Sarah reviews fiction. Fair warning: I read very little fiction these days.
I was born and raised in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, one of the secret cities of the Manhattan Project. I studied English and Classics in college, and have gone on to get my M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature. My first four novels were published by Ace Books. I have written two collaborations with Elizabeth Bear for Tor: A Companion to Wolves and The Tempering of Men. My short stories have appeared in lots of different places, including Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Weird Tales, and Strange Horizons; I've published two collections of short stories, Somewhere Beneath Those Waves and The Bone Key. I collect books, and my husband collects computer parts, so our living space is the constantly contested border between these two imperial ambitions.