Wednesday, August 3, 2011
By These Ten Bones by Claire Dunkle
Maddie lives in a feudal Scottish village with a nearly abandoned castle by a loch. After an itinerant old man, Ned, accompanied by a mute woodcarving boy, stops to trade for a time, her nightmares of bones and ruin are soon followed by a mysterious attack on the boy, Paul, who is found bleeding, raked by claws, and feverish. The villagers attribute the attack to the Water Horse, which is believed to rise from the loch to wreak havoc periodically. Maddie eventually pierces Paul's silence, which is voluntary, and his secret, which is not.
Genre: supernatural; historical
Note: #4 of the YA Historical Fiction Challenge
A rather quick and direct read, I've become accustomed to Dunkle's writing style after reading her Hollow Kingdom series. Dunkle tends to write very passive male characters, and this book is no different. Paul is just there as sort of a catalyst and really does nothing on his own. Maddie is the proactive part of the relationship, though it's not an irrational situation considering there are very few marriageable men in the town and it is at least believable that a single male, no matter how odd or personality deficient he may seem would garner attention. The historical aspect of the book is very nice. Everything isn't clean and comfortable, living at this time was hard and filled with superstition, which is very evident here. Life is fairly cheap and death is just sort of accepted. The werewolf part of the novel was a different take on werewolves, as it actually sort of tried to tie them into reality a little. It was at least something different. So on the one hand this was a rather superficial novel, but that didn't make it bad.