BOOK TITLE: Bonfire
BOOK AUTHOR: Krysten Ritter
PUBLISHER: Crown Archetype
November 7th 2017
GENRES: Contemporary Women, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller
CHECK IT OUT AT: Goodreads
BUY IT: Buy on Amazon
It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.
But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town's most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens' biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.
Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called The Game—which will threaten the reputations and lives of the community, and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts.
I have a real problem with famous people deciding they need to write fiction. Not that I doubt they can write, but I think their fame gives them a leg up on the people who don’t have their fame.
And sometimes I’m not even sure if they write their own books. This mostly goes for some of the talking heads and pundits who come out with fiction: I think often they have a ghostwriter write their books, and publishers know it will sell more with a ‘name’ on the cover. Not all of them, but I think a few of them fail to let us know they didn’t actually write the book.
So I don’t often read the writings of the famous. Sometimes memoirs, but usually no.
But guess what? I broke my unwritten rule and read Krysten Ritter’s Bonfire. And it was really good. All interviews and media I’ve read lead me to believe that she wrote the book.
(In case you don’t know Ritter, she’s humorous and funny, the star of the Netflix series Marvel’s Jessica Jones, all about a troubled private eye who uses her gifts to find her tormentor. She also starred in the short lived but very funny Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23, where she played a spoiled party girl with a new-to-New-York small town roommate, and has many other actor entries on her resume.)
Bonfire is dark, with a very flawed hero in protagonist Abby Williams. Given the chance to return home and to investigate Optimal Plastics, Abby also get a chance to settle some scores with the people who tormented her through high school. Although she’s escaped and built a successful life in Chicago, the past is always with her, and she is much more vulnerable to it all when she returns home. Her dad, her tormentors, the whole town.
Of course she cracks a bit. And she’s flawed and confused. Ritter does a wonderful job with the dark: A NYT profile article (http://Krysten Ritter Spins Her Own Mystery in Her Debut Novel, ‘Bonfire’ )describes her process, talking about how her life and acting contributed to the Bonfire.
Reading her acknowledgements, her first thank you is to novelist Lauren Oliver. Even before finishing the book and reading this, I was comparing it to Oliver’s book Panic, mostly because of ‘The Game’ in small town America. But Panic is a definite YA book, while Bonfire is all adult. Dealing with an evil corporations and a corrupt town, with aging parents and sexual misconduct, there is little that could be classified as young adult. And the only people who get to flashback to their horrible teenage memories are adults.
As suspense, this book works on many levels. Abby is definitely an unreliable narrator, although she realizes it (everyone sees their youth from their own point of view; when you can question yourself you can grow as an adult). As our protagonist, she’s nearly an anti-hero, but not quite (she has ideals, but going after the big and powerful in her home town does serve her self-interests in some ways), but she is definitely very flawed in dark, disturbing, perfect ways.
I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for something dark and suspenseful. Hints of Ruth Ware (dark), it’s perfect for a cold, wintry weekend full of downtime. Or, if you’re like me, a cold, wintry weekend between activities and work.