By James Brogden
It’s rare I find a book that keeps me gripped by my throat, refusing to let go until I finish it. I’m usually pretty good at reading a few – and only a few – chapters before heading to sleep, but Bone Harvest had me staying up late just so I could find out how things would turn out. Even when I wasn’t reading it, I found myself drawn to the characters, thinking about the strangeness of the Farrow, their god, and the politics involved on a local community allotment.
I love horror, from all countries, but I have been reading a lot of USA based horror recently, and to dig my teeth into something so very British was an absolute joy.
Bone Harvest starts in the trenches of World War I, where a man called only the deserter, searches for something away from the donkeys leading lions to slaughter. The deserter finds it, in a way, with a mysterious company who follow orders from no man, and who eat whatever they can find in No Man’s Land.
It’s hard to go much more into plot without giving things away. The book jumps forward in points, and the technique was handled well, carrying the reader through the intervening years and allowing us to see the changes on the characters as the Twentieth Century turns into the Twenty-First. The main bulk of the novel takes place in a present day small community, where an elderly woman called Dennie struggles with dementia, and distrusts her new neighbours.
Various viewpoints come into play throughout the novel. The Farrow are worshippers of an ancient god, who either draw in or come up against the allotment residents. It makes for an interesting dynamic. The characters throughout are well written and believable, with Dennie refusing to admit anything is wrong, David doing anything he can to protect his family, and Angie, who just wants to maintain control of the allotments. But my particular favourite character is Everett, a man who charms those around him, who does whatever he can to remain in control, and who calls everyone ‘chum’. He’s one of those characters who’s endearing, even though you don’t particularly want him to be.
The small touches make this novel really stand out for me. The sense of Britishness comes through nicely and naturally, and the various settings – from the trenches to the village where we originally meet the Farrow, and right through to the allotment and farm later on – are drawn wonderfully, allowing the reader to vividly picture them and the characters who inhabit them.
It’s hard in this book to know who to root for. Not to say the good guys aren’t clear, but the bad guys are engrossing, and it makes you want to see them succeed, in some ways anyway. Brogden also does something clever towards the end, flipping some of the ideas carried throughout the book, and allowing the reader to see certain situations in a new light.
It’s a fantastic book that, despite its length, I tore through. I cannot recommend this one highly enough, and I suggest it gets added to your TBR asap.
Review by Elle Turpitt
I received this e-book from Titan Publishers via NetGalley for review consideration.