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Near the Bone

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A woman trapped on a mountain attempts to survive more than one kind of monster, in a dread-inducing horror novel from the national bestselling author Christina Henry. Mattie can't remember a time before she and William lived alone on a mountain together. She must never make him upset. But when Mattie discovers the mutilated body of a fox in the woods, she realizes that the A woman trapped on a mountain attempts to survive more than one kind of monster, in a dread-inducing horror novel from the national bestselling author Christina Henry. Mattie can't remember a time before she and William lived alone on a mountain together. She must never make him upset. But when Mattie discovers the mutilated body of a fox in the woods, she realizes that they're not alone after all. There's something in the woods that wasn't there before, something that makes strange cries in the night, something with sharp teeth and claws. When three strangers appear on the mountaintop looking for the creature in the woods, Mattie knows their presence will anger William. Terrible things happen when William is angry.


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A woman trapped on a mountain attempts to survive more than one kind of monster, in a dread-inducing horror novel from the national bestselling author Christina Henry. Mattie can't remember a time before she and William lived alone on a mountain together. She must never make him upset. But when Mattie discovers the mutilated body of a fox in the woods, she realizes that the A woman trapped on a mountain attempts to survive more than one kind of monster, in a dread-inducing horror novel from the national bestselling author Christina Henry. Mattie can't remember a time before she and William lived alone on a mountain together. She must never make him upset. But when Mattie discovers the mutilated body of a fox in the woods, she realizes that they're not alone after all. There's something in the woods that wasn't there before, something that makes strange cries in the night, something with sharp teeth and claws. When three strangers appear on the mountaintop looking for the creature in the woods, Mattie knows their presence will anger William. Terrible things happen when William is angry.

30 review for Near the Bone

  1. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte May

    Whoops - pay day treat to myself! Honestly I have a problem 🤷‍♀️ *************************** If Christina Henry writes it then I will read it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    Horror. Survival. Monster. ARC received!!! Thank you so much, Berkley. I love Henry's dark imagination. Give me more! Horror. Survival. Monster. ARC received!!! Thank you so much, Berkley. I love Henry's dark imagination. Give me more!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    4.0 Stars This was such an engrossing horror novel! After reading several of her novels, I have come to realize that Christina Henry knows how to tell a good story and she proved it again with this new release, Near the Bone. This is the kind of horror novel that will really appeal to thriller readers like myself who love the tropes surrounding kidnapping stories. Mattie is a compelling protagonist who is stunted by her early captivity and clearly suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Her social and 4.0 Stars This was such an engrossing horror novel! After reading several of her novels, I have come to realize that Christina Henry knows how to tell a good story and she proved it again with this new release, Near the Bone. This is the kind of horror novel that will really appeal to thriller readers like myself who love the tropes surrounding kidnapping stories. Mattie is a compelling protagonist who is stunted by her early captivity and clearly suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Her social and educational deficiencies made sense, but it did make it a bit frustrating to read from her perspective at times. Yet while this story will appeal to thriller readers, this book should definitely be classified as horror. I loved the narrative choice to "hide" much of the horror from the reader, which made it so much more suspenseful and psychological. I was gripped into the story from the very beginning and it held my attention the entire time. In terms of a story, this one was fairly simple, yet very effective. I thought the ending was very predictable. While not the most innovative story, it still made for a very enjoyable read. Like the author's previous horror novel, The Ghost Tree, I found this one to be very accessible. This would be a great place to start for readers looking to get into the horror genre. I always appreciate that Henry avoids the kinds of problematic content that often plagues the genre. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. I would widely recommend it to both new and seasoned horror readers alike. If you are looking to get wrapped up in a thrilling supernatural tale of survival, then this is an excellent one to pick up. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    There is a lot going on here, but weirdly I find myself wishing it had still flexed more plot muscle despite having at least three plots. I liked the pitch but I didn't love the execution. The one plot that does dive in deep here is Mattie and her origin story. When we meet her we immediately know things are not right. It isn't just that her husband is overprotective, it isn't just that she's isolated, after just a few pages it's clear that this is Not a Good Situation. I would have liked a slowe There is a lot going on here, but weirdly I find myself wishing it had still flexed more plot muscle despite having at least three plots. I liked the pitch but I didn't love the execution. The one plot that does dive in deep here is Mattie and her origin story. When we meet her we immediately know things are not right. It isn't just that her husband is overprotective, it isn't just that she's isolated, after just a few pages it's clear that this is Not a Good Situation. I would have liked a slower rollout, as you move further into the book the flashbacks go on far too long and can get repetitive, it would have been nice not to have most of that insight a third of the way into the book. Into this Not Good Situation comes two other things, one potentially good and one very bad. There is a monster, which is obviously the bad thing. But there are also some monster hunters (they call them cryptids, so yeah, those kinda guys) who could be a way out for Mattie, but could also provoke her husband into violence against her or against them. The main issue I had with this book is that we don't really build up to anything. We just repeat a few variations on the same encounter. The Evil Husband is the kind of unstoppable evil we often find in horror, which is a concept I think someone could really play around with, but while it works very well in the first half, in the second half it almost disappears. The Monster plot seems to just show up when things are getting too easy. And somehow we spend tons of time just sitting in a cabin doing nothing. The pacing felt off to me, and while I do like horror to raise and then diffuse tension, neither worked the way I wanted. It took me a long time to read, much longer than I expected at first. Great pitch, just lacked follow through. This is horror, so I know lots of folks don't bother with content warnings but I will still let you know that the violence here is quite detailed. There is also domestic violence (obvi) and sexual assault (also obvi) but I think it's worth noting for the record. Also dead animals.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Holly (Holly Hearts Books)

    My biggest gripe with thrillers these days is the way characters react to things. So when a human heart gets thrown at them and they look at each other and then say “hey, wanna make some grilled cheese?” I can’t take it seriously XD Also one of the most abrupt endings I've ever read. You get answers to absolutely nothing. Review to come on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/hollyheartsbooks My biggest gripe with thrillers these days is the way characters react to things. So when a human heart gets thrown at them and they look at each other and then say “hey, wanna make some grilled cheese?” I can’t take it seriously XD Also one of the most abrupt endings I've ever read. You get answers to absolutely nothing. Review to come on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/hollyheartsbooks

  6. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    Thanks so much to Netgalley and Berkley for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. This is how you do a horror and thriller combo! It was just the right blend of scary and mysterious. Mattie lives high in the mountains with her husband, William. While checking their animal traps one day during the winter, she finds a dead fox on the path, cut open but not eaten or taken by the predator that killed it. What follows is classic horror movie - discovery of a creature, the Thanks so much to Netgalley and Berkley for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. This is how you do a horror and thriller combo! It was just the right blend of scary and mysterious. Mattie lives high in the mountains with her husband, William. While checking their animal traps one day during the winter, she finds a dead fox on the path, cut open but not eaten or taken by the predator that killed it. What follows is classic horror movie - discovery of a creature, the hunt, other people getting involved, and the long night fight for survival... and the author has done an amazing job at that. But where the book truly shines is in the element of character. You see, the creature in the cold, dark forest isn't the only monster that preys on Mattie, and sometimes, you don't have the sharp claws and vicious fangs to reveal a predator's nature... sometimes, humans are the worst monsters of all. While this book definitely shows that dark side of human nature, it also excels at showing the resiliency, hopefulness, and brave sides of humankind as well. Highly recommended. For non-horror fans, this one is only moderately scary in the creature-feature department. If you like thrillers, the horror in this one probably won't phase you much.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie (That's What She Read)

    3.5 Christina Henry's Near the Bone blends together fantastical monsters with very human ones. Mattie lives in an isolated cabin with her husband William. She is not allowed to leave the cabin, and her life has been dictated by his religious fanaticism and abuse. After a strange creature makes its presence known and draws the attention of a group of cryptozoolologists, there is a lot of monsters Mattie has to overcome. The descriptions of domestic abuse might be triggering for some people. Mattie 3.5 Christina Henry's Near the Bone blends together fantastical monsters with very human ones. Mattie lives in an isolated cabin with her husband William. She is not allowed to leave the cabin, and her life has been dictated by his religious fanaticism and abuse. After a strange creature makes its presence known and draws the attention of a group of cryptozoolologists, there is a lot of monsters Mattie has to overcome. The descriptions of domestic abuse might be triggering for some people. Mattie's storyline with William was the more compelling storyline of the two presented, and honestly the more horrifying. I didn't feel connected to the crptid aspects of the story as much. The flashbacks Mattie has along with her coming to terms with her abuse is so human and heartbreaking. Her journey is the best part. It's a very tense, suspenseful story that I couldn't put down once it got going.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    Survival is the name of the game! Mattie is trapped on a mountain trying to survive -- from what and from whom? Mattie cannot remember a time before she and her husband William lived on the mountain. But what she does remember is not to make her husband upset - EVER! When she finds the mutilated body of a fox in the woods, they begin to suspect that perhaps they are not alone on the mountain after all. Soon Mattie and William hear noises in the night - loud shrill noises. The forest gets quiet. S Survival is the name of the game! Mattie is trapped on a mountain trying to survive -- from what and from whom? Mattie cannot remember a time before she and her husband William lived on the mountain. But what she does remember is not to make her husband upset - EVER! When she finds the mutilated body of a fox in the woods, they begin to suspect that perhaps they are not alone on the mountain after all. Soon Mattie and William hear noises in the night - loud shrill noises. The forest gets quiet. Sshhh...do not make a sound! The animals know something is not right. Survive. Soon three strangers show up, with cameras, investigating a strange sighting in the woods. They say they are cryptozoologists in their spare time. Mattie knows their appearance on the mountain will go over like a lead balloon with her husband. He has the whole Hulk vibe "you wouldn't like me when I'm angry." Near the Bone had me from page one. While some are calling this a simple story, I think it is a straightforward story about monsters. The part that grabbed me the most was not knowing. The author, for most of the book, allows the readers imagination to take over. Nothing is scarier than the monster we create in our mind. We do not know what is really out there. Is it a bear? If not a bear, what? Is it some other creature? Why, what big claws you have! Be warned as I stated above there is more than one monster in the book. One we know of right from the beginning and one that is lurking, out of sight, watching, waiting, choosing the right time...... Which monster is the scariest? The monster in front of us or the one hidden in the darkness? This book does deal with uncomfortable and heartbreaking issues including domestic violence. There is more but I will leave it at that. This book sucked me in, chewed me up, and spit me out. I believe may be polarizing for some. For me, I loved the themes of survival and monsters. I also had Mattie to root for. I clung to hope, silently wishing she would survive. But will she? Will any of them make it off the mountain? Be afraid of things that go bump (shriek, howl, bellow) in the night! This was my first book by Christina Henry, and I look forward to reading more of her books. This really hit the spot and proved to be a fast, dark, and creepy read. Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own. Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jeri

    I enjoyed this book. Though it does have some graphic domestic physical violence that may make some readers very uncomfortable. It also has all the classic horror elements to it with isolation and something stalking in the woods. The story kept me interested and reading at a pretty quick pace to find out what happened with Mattie. I was given an eARC by the publisher through NetGalley.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Irene

    This was a heart pounding horror, set in a desolate cabin on a snow covered mountain where one woman tries to survive more than one kind of monster. Mattie knows no other kind of life than being beaten and abused while spending her days working on her never ending chores in an attempt to avoid the brutal punishments her "husband" will mete out if everything is not done to his satisfaction. Mattie has not seen or spoken to another living soul but William for what she estimates to be about 12 years This was a heart pounding horror, set in a desolate cabin on a snow covered mountain where one woman tries to survive more than one kind of monster. Mattie knows no other kind of life than being beaten and abused while spending her days working on her never ending chores in an attempt to avoid the brutal punishments her "husband" will mete out if everything is not done to his satisfaction. Mattie has not seen or spoken to another living soul but William for what she estimates to be about 12 years. She's not even sure how old she is anymore. She has vague memories of another life, with a mother and sister who loved her, but William tells her none of this is real, that it was just a dream, she has never been anything but his wife, and his property. Just when it seems she has given up on ever having a life worth living, a strange and deadly creature in the woods attracts the attention of amateur hikers and cryptid hunters who stumble upon William's cabin in the woods. This could be Mattie's one chance at escape or it could mean the death of all of them at the jaws of a vicious creature that can kill with one swipe of it's claws before you even know it's upon you. As a huge fan of creature feature type horror and anything to do with being trapped in a winter storm this was a big hit with me, but when combined with the evil that mere mortals do the author created a perfect duet of terror with William and the creature being equally dangerous to Mattie's chances of survival. I received an advance copy for review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    ❐ Overall Rating 5⭐ | Narration 😁 = Very Good ❐ Narrated by Lisa Flanagan ❐ Listening Length: 8H 39M ❐ Horror-if-ic ❐ Preternatural monster ❐ TW for severe abuse, & child abduction If you’re a fan of Christina Henry and dark fairytale retellings then I don’t think this will disappoint. Also, this is more of horror than a fairytale retelling and it was so good. Featuring a tight narrative with no extraneous details to get in the way or take you out of the story, which I love. Since I don’t read/lis ❐ Overall Rating 5⭐ | Narration 😁 = Very Good ❐ Narrated by Lisa Flanagan ❐ Listening Length: 8H 39M ❐ Horror-if-ic ❐ Preternatural monster ❐ TW for severe abuse, & child abduction If you’re a fan of Christina Henry and dark fairytale retellings then I don’t think this will disappoint. Also, this is more of horror than a fairytale retelling and it was so good. Featuring a tight narrative with no extraneous details to get in the way or take you out of the story, which I love. Since I don’t read/listen to a lot of horror/slasher books, I’m not sure how it compares to others of its kind but I, for one found it quite perfect with just the right amount of story too scary ratio. 🅒🅐🅦🅟🅘🅛🅔》9.91/❿ 🅒haracters》9.7 🅐tmosphere》10 🅦riting》10 🅟lot》10 🅘ntrigue》 10 🅛ogic》9.7 🅔njoyment》10

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marcy Reads on IG

    3.5 stars Jumping into the story we run into Mattie as she’s on her way to check on some traps for food. You see, she lives in the woods with William, her husband. He is abusive AF not only physically but emotionally. He keeps Mattie down through beatings and physical labor. It’s his christian duty to keep his woman in check. UGH, William, what a douche! He is the worst. Poor Mattie lives in constant fear and torn to pieces. Every thought in her head is “but William will get mad”. It’s rough seei 3.5 stars Jumping into the story we run into Mattie as she’s on her way to check on some traps for food. You see, she lives in the woods with William, her husband. He is abusive AF not only physically but emotionally. He keeps Mattie down through beatings and physical labor. It’s his christian duty to keep his woman in check. UGH, William, what a douche! He is the worst. Poor Mattie lives in constant fear and torn to pieces. Every thought in her head is “but William will get mad”. It’s rough seeing life through her eyes as she suffers day in and day out. Also, she doesn’t remember much before living with William. She remembers her sister but that’s about it. Little by little her story starts unfolding before her eyes when one day 3 strangers show up at her backyard. This is super unusual cause as I stated before she lives in the woods, super isolated, on a mountain. These 3 strangers happen to be following a creature that has surfaced on said mountain which Mattie and her husband have also recently discovered. AND SHIT HITS THE FAN! While I enjoyed the overall story being told I was a tad bit disappointed and I can’t pinpoint why. This story was atmospheric, and it was suspenseful which had my heart pumping a few times. Usually this is the perfect recipe for my type of book, but it fell kind of short. This is my first book by Henry so i’m not sure if it was the writing which didn’t quite grab me or if it was just missing that oomph that I needed. My opinion and rating might change once I sit more on it because this book does stick with you and it does have a special something to it, we’ll see. Either way it is an enjoyable story and I feel like the majority of people will absolutely love it. Thank you to the publisher and to Netgalley for my review copy.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Becky Spratford

    Review in the April 2021 issue of Library Journal: https://www.libraryjournal.com/?revie... And on the blog [link live 4/5/21]: https://raforall.blogspot.com/2021/04... Three Words That Describe This Book: disturbing, compelling, creature feature Draft Review: Mattie lives off the grid in a cabin on the side of a mountain with her older, emotionally and physically abusive husband. She is clearly an unreliable narrator because she knows nothing of the outside world and has flashbacks to her past, me Review in the April 2021 issue of Library Journal: https://www.libraryjournal.com/?revie... And on the blog [link live 4/5/21]: https://raforall.blogspot.com/2021/04... Three Words That Describe This Book: disturbing, compelling, creature feature Draft Review: Mattie lives off the grid in a cabin on the side of a mountain with her older, emotionally and physically abusive husband. She is clearly an unreliable narrator because she knows nothing of the outside world and has flashbacks to her past, memories that are incomplete and terrifying. When a violent creature clearly not of this world begins leaving mutilated animal corpses across their territory, Mattie expands her limited range to investigate, coming into contact with hikers who help her come to terms the true, sinister nature of her past and present. Overflowing with intensity, action, and an oppressive isolated atmosphere, this is a violent, compelling and disturbing mix of domestic suspense and creature feature horror that will appeal to a wide swath of readers. Verdict: Henry has expertly walked the line between psychological suspense and horror to crowd-pleasing results for years and this title is no exception. Hand out freely to fans of Sarah Pinborough, Jennifer McMahon, and Zoje Stage. Notes: An intense domestic suspense mixed with an all out creature feature. Three Words That Describe This Book: disturbing, compelling, creature feature Mix Girl on the Train with Rachel Harrison's The Return. Will appeal to a wide range of patrons.

  14. 4 out of 5

    The Reading Raccoon

    Near the Bone is a atmospheric horror novel about an isolated and abused young wife living a pioneer style lifestyle in a cabin on a snowy mountainside. Over the next three days her world will turn into a twisted nightmare as a large predator appears in the woods. With the monster comes other people and Mattie finds herself facing strangers for the first time in a decade. Mattie lives with her much older husband in a cabin in the woods. Her life is dedicated to chores and following the strict de Near the Bone is a atmospheric horror novel about an isolated and abused young wife living a pioneer style lifestyle in a cabin on a snowy mountainside. Over the next three days her world will turn into a twisted nightmare as a large predator appears in the woods. With the monster comes other people and Mattie finds herself facing strangers for the first time in a decade. Mattie lives with her much older husband in a cabin in the woods. Her life is dedicated to chores and following the strict demands of her husband, William. She is beaten down, hungry and exhausted and the reader quickly realizes that their life isn’t what it seems and that William is hiding pieces of her past. When evidence that a monstrous creature is hunting in the woods around their cabin Mattie finds herself facing an abusive husband, an apex predator and three young hikers that show up looking for a “cryptid”. What follows is three days of terror including the revelations of who Mattie really is. I loved this dark tale of horrible monsters (both human and other), deception, cruelty and fighting back. The college age hikers brought humor to an otherwise grim story and made a nice contrast to uneducated naive Mattie and religious zealot William. The non-stop action and scares will keep the reader on their toes wondering what horrors lay in store next. I highly recommend Near the Bone to horror and paranormal thriller fans. For those that avoid certain topics this book includes: child abuse/kidnapping, murder, miscarriage/stillborn birth, spousal abuse/rape and animal and human gore My copy was provided by Berkley and NetGalley for review purposes. 4 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

    Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review. I recently finished The Ghost Tree by the same author and loved it, and I was so thrilled that I loved this one just as much! A sad and scary tale of domestic abuse twisted together with some creature horror. I thought this was very well done, though I did want just a little more of the creature part of the story. Also big trigger warning for some seriously upsetting domestic violence scenes. 4.5 stars.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Hixson

    Near the Bone by Christina Henry is one part Emma Donoghue's Room and the other part The Relic by Preston and Child. This off mix of kidnapping slash survival works really well to the theme of one woman beating her demons literally and physically. This is the third Henry that I have read and this one was my favorite so far, I have read Alice and The Ghost Tree before this. Where I always have appreciated Henry's overall story, this novel felt very real, and raw. I enjoyed it but there is a lot o Near the Bone by Christina Henry is one part Emma Donoghue's Room and the other part The Relic by Preston and Child. This off mix of kidnapping slash survival works really well to the theme of one woman beating her demons literally and physically. This is the third Henry that I have read and this one was my favorite so far, I have read Alice and The Ghost Tree before this. Where I always have appreciated Henry's overall story, this novel felt very real, and raw. I enjoyed it but there is a lot of trigger warnings on domestic abuse, kidnapping, child endangerment, and manipulation/gaslighting. This is a really fast paced novel, that is deeply psychological. Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley books for the advanced reader's copy, Near the Bone by Christina Henry is published on April 13th 2021. The Plot: Mattie lives with William on top of a cold mountain. William is a controlling terrifyingly frightening man that treats Mattie like a slave than a wife. He keeps her locked up and beats her regularly so Mattie is docile. William is a monster, but what they find in the woods terrifies even him, a fox ripped in half most of it organs and none are missing, with big tracks leading to it, then nothing. They investigate and find a cave that has piles of various organs and skulls. William is determined to kill it but, he's not the only one who discovered the creature, when a group of college kids find William and Mattie in the woods, they thought was abandoned. Mattie and one the college kids Griffen has a connection with Mattie and swears he knows her from somewhere. Mattie tells them to leave but it starts her own spiral in finding out who she is and what the creature really is. What I Liked: the mixing of genres, it was interesting, it kind of reminded me of the movie 10 Cloverfield Ln. I liked Mattie and how we got to see her find her inner strength. William was a monster, that was terrifying to read. As for the real monster, I liked the descriptions my mind was trying to fill in the gaps since no one really gets a good view of it. I like the flashbacks, especially the bathroom scene, which is so raw and you really get into Mattie's psychology early that she cares about others and fears for them more than herself because she can take the abuse. What I Disliked: William's blank holes filled me with so many questions, did he want Mattie's mother to join him on the mountain. We never found out if Heather, Mattie's sister, is still alive. Recommendations: This is the only Christina Henry book that I have recommended. Near the Bone is a wild ride both emotionally and scary. It has two horrors in it, each just as dangerous. I rated Near the Bone by Christina Henry 4 out of 5 stars.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Josh Hedgepeth

    Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. The short version: This was a solid book that was an absolute thrill to read. The characters are a little one dimensional, but it's a fun novel that would likely please fans of Stephen King. Imagine if you took a bunch of horror genres and mashed them together, and this is what you'd get. A man gone mad meets creature feature meets a survivalist tale. The long version: I read this in about a 9 hour period b Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. The short version: This was a solid book that was an absolute thrill to read. The characters are a little one dimensional, but it's a fun novel that would likely please fans of Stephen King. Imagine if you took a bunch of horror genres and mashed them together, and this is what you'd get. A man gone mad meets creature feature meets a survivalist tale. The long version: I read this in about a 9 hour period but about 80% of it was over one stretch of time. I honestly did not want to stop. We enter a story about a young women, Martha, living in a secluded cabin high on a mountain with her controlling abusive husband. One day, Martha is out doing her chores when she comes across these huge bear like foot prints, but the size concerns her. As the story progresses, we slowly start to realize that something isn't quite right, with the foot prints and her marriage. The story continues, revealing itself to be an amalgamation of several classic horror stories. We have the maniac killer. We have a creature feature. We have survivalist horror. The story itself is okay. The writing is easy to read and obviously compelling. However, I didn't feel like it really broke the mold outside of the fun mash up of horror genres. There's also an issue with our characters being somewhat one dimensional. This is especially true for the abusive husband. Henry uses the King-technique of creating villains that lack nuance and whose only purpose is for the reader to hate. Don't get me wrong, it makes for compelling writing (there's a reason King does so well), but lets not pretend it's anything more than what it is. The issue doesn't stop with the husband though. There are other characters around the young women's age who act in ridiculous ways. Sure, it fits their age, but the negligence and stupidity continues into some pretty extreme situations in ways that I find hard to believe. They seem a little too quick, at times, to forget exactly how bad their situation is. Nevertheless, Henry creates a sufficiently compelling plot with characters that I care enough about to stay invested in what's going on. Big picture, the books great. If you like Stephen King, you'll probably like this. It's not ground breaking, but it's a solid ride. Honestly, I would love to see this turned into a horror flick. I'll definitely be checking on Henry's other works too because she knows how to a write a fun story. PS: the audiobook was solid as well; the narrator does a great job with everything I think.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)

    You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight Wow so this was dark and messed up! I don't even know where to begin with trigger warnings, frankly. So if you can't do dark and brutal, this isn't the book for you. But if you do enjoy darker fare, it's compulsively readable and impossible to put down. Mattie is sequestered alone in a creepy cabin in the creepy woods with William, who is legit the grossest person in the whole world. I am You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight Wow so this was dark and messed up! I don't even know where to begin with trigger warnings, frankly. So if you can't do dark and brutal, this isn't the book for you. But if you do enjoy darker fare, it's compulsively readable and impossible to put down. Mattie is sequestered alone in a creepy cabin in the creepy woods with William, who is legit the grossest person in the whole world. I am not exaggerating, he is a monster. Through and through. This isn't a spoiler, you'll be aware of this by like, page three. It will, however, horrify you more and more with each page. But beyond that, Mattie and William find that perhaps the woods aren't as isolated as they'd assumed. Something... strange is afoot, and whatever it is, it's definitively not friendly. And then. Then they encounter people. Mattie hasn't seen humans in so long that it becomes quite an experience for her.  I'll say no more, for fear of spoiling, but trust that you will not be able to put this book down. I couldn't, because I needed answers to all the things. It's atmospheric and incredibly mysterious, and it blew my mind in more ways than one.  Bottom Line: If you're in the mood for a dark mystery that will leave you unsettled, this is your book! 

  19. 4 out of 5

    FV Angela

    Near the Bone is a quiet, slow-to-build horror story featuring monsters both human and fantastical. The main protagonist, Mattie, is a young woman living with her "husband" in the middle of nowhere. She's lived in terror of the repercussions of disobeying him for as long as she can remember, so she keeps her head down and follows her routines. Until they discover a monster on their mountain and three cryptozoologists show up to investigate. I won't even go into content warnings, there are too ma Near the Bone is a quiet, slow-to-build horror story featuring monsters both human and fantastical. The main protagonist, Mattie, is a young woman living with her "husband" in the middle of nowhere. She's lived in terror of the repercussions of disobeying him for as long as she can remember, so she keeps her head down and follows her routines. Until they discover a monster on their mountain and three cryptozoologists show up to investigate. I won't even go into content warnings, there are too many to name. But keep in mind, this is a horror novel, and expect blood, violence, and to be taken out of your comfort zone. As the story progresses readers do start to understand how Mattie came to be in the situation she is in, and how awful the man she lives with is. He is just as much of a monster as the predator in the woods they are all afraid of, maybe even more so. The story ended as I expected it to, but I kind of wish there was just a short epilogue. I would have liked to see Mattie aka Samantha reunited with her sister. But I did enjoy this suspenseful, frightening tale and look forward to more from this author.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bianca (Belladonnabooks)

    Christine Henry has such a compelling storytelling voice that immerses you immediately within the story. It was my first experience reading her work and it certainly won't be my last. This is a psychological horror story which explores the horrific things humans do to one another with a supernatural presence lurking in the background. The main protagonist Mattie is subjected to severe verbal, physical, psychological and financial abuse at the hands of her husband whom she lives with in an isolate Christine Henry has such a compelling storytelling voice that immerses you immediately within the story. It was my first experience reading her work and it certainly won't be my last. This is a psychological horror story which explores the horrific things humans do to one another with a supernatural presence lurking in the background. The main protagonist Mattie is subjected to severe verbal, physical, psychological and financial abuse at the hands of her husband whom she lives with in an isolated location within the woods. A group of strangers stumble upon Mattie and her husband and they try to protect her without realising the lengths Mattie's husband will go to with the intent of keeping Mattie in his possession. It becomes apparent that there is also an entity in the woods which is intent on stalking and hunting all of them one by one. This is a great exploration of coercive control and violence, showing the complexities involved in the dynamics of such a relationship and the difficulties a survivor of violence will experience when trying to leave the perpetrator. This may be triggering for some readers so be aware it is quite in your face. The tense atmosphere of dread Henry builds is palpable and makes it difficult to put this story down. I connected to Mattie's story and it was heart wrenching being witness to her going through such horrors and not knowing her life could be any different. It was obvious she felt quite helpless and powerless. One minor criticism or short fall for me personally was the lack of atmosphere I felt. It was the perfect location and weather for an atmospheric read but I didn't feel this. I was hoping to feel the cold and to feel more of a sense of setting. This would have bumped up my star rating. As a whole a very enjoyable, tense read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Steve Stred

    ** Edited as review is now live on Kendall Reviews! ** Big thanks to Netgalley and Berkley for approving me to read this. I’ve seen a number of people rave about Henry’s work over the last few years, but none of it really grabbed my interest. That is until I read the synopsis for ‘Near the Bone.’ If you’ve read any of my reviews or even my own work, you know that I LOVE anything based around the woods, snow and massive creatures. Henry could’ve pitched this to me with those five words if I worked ** Edited as review is now live on Kendall Reviews! ** Big thanks to Netgalley and Berkley for approving me to read this. I’ve seen a number of people rave about Henry’s work over the last few years, but none of it really grabbed my interest. That is until I read the synopsis for ‘Near the Bone.’ If you’ve read any of my reviews or even my own work, you know that I LOVE anything based around the woods, snow and massive creatures. Henry could’ve pitched this to me with those five words if I worked at Berkley and I would’ve said “YES!” Diving in, I was pleasantly surprised with how easy Henry writes, which let me devour this over the course of a few sittings. What I liked: Husband and Wife, William and Mattie live in a small cabin, high up in the mountains. They live a simple, isolated existence that is ruled by William’s cruelty and abuse. Mattie can’t remember her life before William. As flashes of her life before start to come through, it’s pushed aside when a massive, unknown creature makes itself known. Henry has crafted a thriller/creature feature here that gallops along. The characters are very strong and you connect with Mattie immediately. You want to see her survive and overcome everything, especially as we learn more and more about her back story. The character of William, as despicable as he is, was really well done and made for a great ‘evil’ for Mattie to battle and ultimately use as her reason to survive. I must say, even though we get far too little of the beast itself, every single time we get scenes with it, they were amazing. Absolutely top notch shivers and terrifying moments. What I didn’t like: For this reader things really went from point A to point B to point C. Maybe it’s the sheer volume of books that I’ve read and in this particular theme, but none of the ‘reveals’ or moments meant to give me ‘ah ha’ moments were surprising. Saying that, that didn’t diminish from my enjoyment and frankly as Mattie confronts her past, I was happy to see things go the way they did. Why you should buy this: Well, did you not read how I said it was about the woods, snow and a creature? If that doesn’t get you excited, how about a strong female lead who continues to survive no matter the costs? Henry has really crafted a fantastic thriller here and there were scenes in here with the creature that will stay with me for a long, long time.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jessica (a GREAT read)

    I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I was in no way compensated for this review. TRIGGER WARNINGS: Abuse, sexual abuse, controlling spouse Christina Henry’s Near the Bone was without a doubt one of the most chilling reads I’ve ever read! There was so much horror to this novel and not all of it was monsters! I mentioned the trigger warnings forefront this time because this book is deeply seeded into some scary things. The book itself is still am I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I was in no way compensated for this review. TRIGGER WARNINGS: Abuse, sexual abuse, controlling spouse Christina Henry’s Near the Bone was without a doubt one of the most chilling reads I’ve ever read! There was so much horror to this novel and not all of it was monsters! I mentioned the trigger warnings forefront this time because this book is deeply seeded into some scary things. The book itself is still amazing, but I wanted readers to be aware of the characters’ dark history in this one. It left me chilled and with a mess of emotions whirling about. Mattie lives with her husband, William, in a remote forest on a mountain. It’s always just been the two of them but then one day when checking the traps for their food source, Mattie finds a chilling pair of footprints that are not like any animal she’s ever seen before. She and William discover a cave of horrors that belong to this creature and William becomes set on hunting down this monster once and for all. Though while journeying through the forest they run into a new problem, intruders. A group of hikers are out and about conducting research and when they encounter William and Mattie it sends a spark of familiarity with one of them. Mattie has lived a secluded life for many years because her husband deemed it so, so seeing other people left her a little off-kilter. All the while, Mattie is overcome with dreams of another life. One about a young girl with her family. A life of before…soon a new horror story is revealed to Mattie day by day as memories long forgotten resurface. This my friends was the truly scary part of the story. It left me chilled. Christina Henry is proven once again to be a master storyteller, even of the hard topics. That William is an abusive d—husband has you rooting for Mattie with every little act of defiance that she commits. When the strangers soon turn to trying to help Mattie escape William, Mattie has to relearn what humanity is truly like. Oh and all the while they are being hunted down by a monster they cannot see, one that moves so quick no one ever has the chance to scream. Blood trails and animal parts are left strewn about the forest in a macabre matter. This story is not for the faint of heart in more ways than one. Near the Bone was a heart-racing read on many levels that it has a greater magnitude of “page-turner.” Still, you can’t help but turn the pages as fast as you can to see what the outcome will be. You hope for many things, but only a few will come true. That doesn’t make this a disappointing read in the least, it makes it one emotional gut punch to the feelings though. In short, Near the Bone was one of the most soul-chilling reads I’ve ever read. It’s definitely a horror story to be sure and I stress again it is not for the faint of heart. The trigger warnings I mention only touch the surface. There is another one that I will say connects to a controlling spouse, I intentionally left out the actual word for spoiler purposes, but figured you might be able to gain an idea from the last part. This book was horrifying to say the least, but masterful storytelling and underneath it all, a story of hope…as most “monster” stories can be. That last piece of positivity was everything though. Sadly, while I hoped for answers as to this mysterious monster stalking the woods that only seemed to appear recently, those were not so forthcoming. I can understand leaving it a mystery in some sense, but what baffled me was that this monster literally only came about recently, so it left me wondering where was it in those early years of Mattie and William’s lives in the forest? It was puzzling for sure and that we only catch glimpses of it had me even more intrigued…yet still utterly horrified! The mysterious monster was definitely a puzzle I would’ve liked solved, but I can mostly live with not knowing…except the bit about where it suddenly came from though! Lol. If you’re looking for a positively terrifying read this year, Christina Henry’s Near the Bone is the read to go with! It’s so utterly bone-chilling, that you will never want to go camping again! I knew there was a reason why I didn’t like going into nature! This is a read not to be missed for fans of horror! Overall Rating 4.5/5 stars Near the Bone releases April 13, 2021

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    cw: This book contains graphic depictions of domestic abuse. I don't even know where to begin! Let's start with the fact that I adored this book. Tight narrative, tense plot, absolutely terrifying. Author Christina Henry clearly knows how to write a horror novel. The book is told through the eyes of Mattie, a young woman of indeterminate age. It begins as Mattie is checking traps for rabbits and finds a mutilated fox. She's confused - animals don't mutilate their prey, they consume it. But Mattie cw: This book contains graphic depictions of domestic abuse. I don't even know where to begin! Let's start with the fact that I adored this book. Tight narrative, tense plot, absolutely terrifying. Author Christina Henry clearly knows how to write a horror novel. The book is told through the eyes of Mattie, a young woman of indeterminate age. It begins as Mattie is checking traps for rabbits and finds a mutilated fox. She's confused - animals don't mutilate their prey, they consume it. But Mattie is more concerned with getting home to her husband, William, than investigating. Readers soon discover that William controls every detail of Mattie's life: what she eats, where she goes, how she spends every moment of her time. When Mattie reports her findings to William, he insists she accompany him into the forest to find out what mutilated the fox. The duo find prints larger than any bear could have left, and Mattie begins to believe there's something strange living on their mountain. But as William drags Mattie along on his hunt, readers become as terrified with William as they are with the unknown woodland monster. The punishments he doles out to Mattie are as frequent as they are brutal. This combination of domestic thriller and creature feature set in such an isolated setting is a one-two punch of mass proportions. There's terror in every single page of the novel, whether it stems from the creature or from William. Readers will be rooting for Mattie the entire time, wondering how she came to live in the cabin with William, and curious about what exactly is living and killing in the forest. I won't say more, because this book is best read unspoiled! It's a taut, page-turning horror novel that you won't be able to put down. Best book I've read in a very long time.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This could have been a really good creature horror book or a really good heavy issue book, but it suffered from combining the plots. I stayed invested to see how it all played out, but it never hit that true horror tone for me since Mattie is already so traumatized by William by the time the monster in the woods comes into play that all of her emotions seem muted. The descriptions and behavior of the monster were both creepy and intriguing, but so many of its actions and presence was indirect or This could have been a really good creature horror book or a really good heavy issue book, but it suffered from combining the plots. I stayed invested to see how it all played out, but it never hit that true horror tone for me since Mattie is already so traumatized by William by the time the monster in the woods comes into play that all of her emotions seem muted. The descriptions and behavior of the monster were both creepy and intriguing, but so many of its actions and presence was indirect or done off the page that it kept it from being as frightening as intended. The first few chapters were very well written and had me wondering exactly what century the book was set and what was going on with Mattie and William's past, but unfortunately, the quality didn't last after the introduction of the creature. There were some truly convenient and random plot points further into the book that helped resolve everything a little too well. And just in case anyone else misses the obvious in the summary (it was not my brightest moment), William is incredibly abusive to Mattie from the very beginning of the book. Massive trigger warning for domestic abuse and violence.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amy Walker - Trans-Scribe Reviews

    There's something about Christina Henry's books that make them really hard to put down, and Near The Bone is no exception. From the very first page to the heart pounding final pages, the book had me hooked. The story follows Mattie, a young woman living in a remote mountain cabin deep in the woods with her husband William. William, who's much older than Mattie, is a harsh man, one who will only have his way and beats any kind of fight out of Mattie to achieve those ends. Because of this Mattie be There's something about Christina Henry's books that make them really hard to put down, and Near The Bone is no exception. From the very first page to the heart pounding final pages, the book had me hooked. The story follows Mattie, a young woman living in a remote mountain cabin deep in the woods with her husband William. William, who's much older than Mattie, is a harsh man, one who will only have his way and beats any kind of fight out of Mattie to achieve those ends. Because of this Mattie begins the book a fairly broken person, one with little to no self esteem or belief in herself, a young woman living in constant terror that her husband will find something she does angering and will beat her. Having been with William as long as she can remember Mattie has no sense of what the outside world is, and can barely remember ever seeing another human. She's not allowed out of the cabin unsupervised except for the occasional chore. She's not allowed to read anything but the Bible. She's a prisoner in her life. This all changes one day when Mattie is checking the rabbit traps close to their cabin and comes across the mutilated remains of a fox. Not just that, but there are strange bear-like tracks in the snow, large tracks of a huge creature that seems to move around on its hind legs. Mattie shows this to William, and the two of them follow the trail until it mysteriously vanishes. The next day William decides they'll investigate some nearby caves, hoping to find the creature's lair. What they do find is more bizarre and terrifying then they ever expected, however. Things only get worse though when they run into another human, a young man in strange clothing and carrying gear that Mattie doesn't recognise. This begins a series of horrific events as more outsiders arrive on the mountain, searching for this strange creature that seems to be stalking people through the woods. Now Mattie has to not only survive this unknown monster, but her enraged husband who's determined to keep Mattie away from the outside world. Near The Bone is told from Mattie's perspective, and she makes for an interesting narrator. Having been kept in isolation for much of her life, and raised by a vicious man, it soon becomes clear that she has a very narrow view of the world. Mattie can only relate things through her experiences, and there are times during the book that she struggles to put things into words, even to the reader. Over time we learn more about Mattie, as she begins to slowly unlock her older memories thanks to the events going on around her, and we see how she ended up the woman she is. This is one of the more fascinating parts of the book, and it's possibly more frightening than the strange creature killing people in the forest because of how human and real it is. It soon becomes clear that the events of this book aren't set a hundred year ago or more, which it first seemed to, and that Mattie is so isolated from the real world that she's essentially living in the past. Learning how Mattie went from living in our world to becoming a captive on a remote mountain is one of the biggest mysteries of the book, and is unlocked slowly as Mattie recovers the secrets of her past. These scenes are not only fascinating for the answers they provide, but are some of the most emotional moments of the book. Things like Mattie remembering what a grilled cheese sandwich is and the way it connects her to her mother, or tasting chocolate for the first time in over a decade. These tiny moments are close to heartbreaking as we see Mattie discovering these tiny parts of life that we all take for granted, but change her entire world. There's a very human story at the heart of this book, one of a young woman living through extreme trauma and abuse, and it makes the book so much better than if it were just a group of people being picked off by this strange monster. There are times where William is the more frightening of the two monsters that are stalking Mattie, and the level of fear she has for him is not only understandable, but so terrifyingly real. That being said, the creature in this book is so frighteningly fascinating. We never get a clear look at this thing, we never find out what it really is, and that's one of the most infuriating and brilliant parts. I wanted to know what this thing was. I wanted to know how it could be so huge but move almost silently. I wanted to know why it mutilated animals and people. I wanted to know how smart it was. And I wanted to know where it had come from. But, I also know that knowing all of that would have taken away a lot of the mystique of this thing. As such, I was more than happy to get tiny glimpses, to only see it briefly, and to be put in the same situation as the people on the mountain. The times where the creature turned up were some of the most tense, well paced moments of the book, and I loved them. Near The Bone is a horror story where more than horror is thrown at the characters. William or the creature alone would have been enough to carry this book. Either one of them was frightening enough to be the main threat, but to throw both of them at Mattie and the reader? Well, it meant that you were never able to relax, were always on the edge of your seat, and always desperate to keep reading more. I loved the incredibly real horror of being a captive, of being abused and broken by a human being, as well as the completely alien horror of being hunted by something otherworldly. There are few writers who'd be able to weave two very different narratives like that together so well, whilst also making Mattie's journey so engaging and emotionally resonating; but Christina Henry is able to do it with such amazing flair. This is a book that no horror fan should miss out on. Absolutely perfect.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Wolf

    There is a menacing, eerie feel to Near the Bone right from the start, and the cover absolutely nails it. Near the Bone is the story of Mattie, a 20-year-old woman living in isolation on a snowy mountain with her husband William. Mattie cooks, cleans, checks the snares — always under William’s watchful eye. Every night, she does her other wifely duties, because as William reminds her each day, a man has to have sons. The plot bursts into action when Mattie finds the body of a fox on a trail near There is a menacing, eerie feel to Near the Bone right from the start, and the cover absolutely nails it. Near the Bone is the story of Mattie, a 20-year-old woman living in isolation on a snowy mountain with her husband William. Mattie cooks, cleans, checks the snares — always under William’s watchful eye. Every night, she does her other wifely duties, because as William reminds her each day, a man has to have sons. The plot bursts into action when Mattie finds the body of a fox on a trail near their cabin. It’s been killed and mutilated, but not eaten. What predator would do such a thing? When Mattie explains her find to William, he takes her with him to explore further, and they find tracks and claw marks huger than anything a bear might leave behind. What new animal has shown up on the mountain? As they soon discover, it’s something other, not just a monster. It’s enormous, dangerous, and sentient. It has rituals and territories, and seems to have left them a warning to stay away. But as the author so deftly illustrates, the creature isn’t the only monster on the mountain. I should pause here for some content warnings, which I tend not to include, but feel like it’s essential for this book. Content: Includes kidnapping, rape, assault, emotional and physical abuse. And yes, those are all human actions. When it comes to the creature, we see horror-story elements such as eviscerated and dismembered bodies — but honestly, if you read horror, this isn’t going to be the most shocking part of the story. Gross, yes, but not terrible the way the human-induced horror is. The arrival of strangers on the mountain escalates the action. Mattie knows that she’ll be punished if William thinks she’s been talking to the strangers. They’re a trio of college friends exploring a “sighting” of a “cryptid” that they’ve read about online. They think this will be fun — but Mattie feels compelled to warn them away. Meanwhile, memories start to return for Mattie — memories of her childhood, an earlier life where she had a mother and a sister and was happy. With the help of the outsiders, who recognize her from news coverage, she’s able to piece together the awful truth of the last twelve years of her life, and begins to plan her escape. But can she get off the mountain when there are two dangerous predators hunting her down? I feel like I could talk about this book for hours, but at the same time, I’m already skating at the edge of spoiler-ville and don’t want to go too far. Near the Bone is incredibly upsetting and scary and utterly enthralling. I tore through this book in about a day and a half — I felt so personally invested in Mattie’s story and absolutely had to know if she’d find safety. The story of her life with William and the ongoing abuse — captivity, control, beatings, sexual assault, withholding of food — is very, very hard to read. It does have a ripped-from-the-headlines feel, bringing up memories of the recent cases in the news of women escaping their captors after many, many years. Mattie considers herself a mouse, weak and powerless, but over the course of the novel, as her memories return, she finds an inner strength and determination that helps her finally take action. This book is not going to be for everyone. As I said, the more traditional horror elements aren’t the parts that were hardest for me to read. It’s been a couple of days since I finished, and I still can’t get Mattie’s story out of my head. I think the only thing that leaves me a touch unsatisfied is the lack of clear explanation of the creature. By the end of the book, there have been glimpses, but not a full look, and we’re left not knowing exactly what it was. I know this is intentional, but I wanted to know! There’s a message there about heeding warnings and staying away from places you shouldn’t go — my impression is that the creature only went after the humans when they disturbed its territory, and then of course there was hell to pay. Ultimately, the true monster on the mountain is William. We can understand the creature as “other”, with behaviors and patterns that make sense for it, even though they’re deadly to whoever crosses its path. William, though, is human, and we’re left with a picture of evil that’s hard to shake. Near the Bone is a fantastic read, very disturbing but impossible to put down. Mattie is someone to root for, and while I felt enormous sympathy and sorrow for her, I also was left with high admiration for her ability to survive, help others, and keep going in the face of terrible circumstances. The book ends on a high note, despite all the horror, and I was happy to be able to leave the books with a sense of hope after all the awful things that occurred. I strongly recommend Near the Bone, but with the caveat that the content won’t be for everyone. Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley. Full review at Bookshelf Fantasies.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    The nitty-gritty: Henry's latest is a fast-paced suspense story with some very dark elements. I had a lot of fun with this book! After having some issues with Christina Henry’s The Ghost Tree, I was a little worried going into Near the Bone. But it ended up working a lot better for me, I think mostly because it was a much more tightly focused story. If you’re a fan of horror stories that are set in remote snowy mountain locations, then you will probably enjoy this too. However, there are a couple The nitty-gritty: Henry's latest is a fast-paced suspense story with some very dark elements. I had a lot of fun with this book! After having some issues with Christina Henry’s The Ghost Tree, I was a little worried going into Near the Bone. But it ended up working a lot better for me, I think mostly because it was a much more tightly focused story. If you’re a fan of horror stories that are set in remote snowy mountain locations, then you will probably enjoy this too. However, there are a couple of trigger warnings I want to mention above and beyond your standard horror triggers, so do beware that the story includes physical abuse, kidnapping and implied rape, just in case you are sensitive about those issues. Mattie can’t remember a time before she lived on the mountain with her husband William. Her days are spent cooking and cleaning and checking the traps in the woods for rabbits, and her nights are spent performing her “wifely duties” so that William can have a son someday. Mattie isn’t allowed to leave the cabin without William’s permission, and she must obey his every word, or there will be consequences. She isn’t allowed to go into town for supplies, and she isn’t allowed to speak to strangers, either. But one day, a couple of things happen that change everything. William and Mattie are checking their traps when they spot the signs of a large predator in the area. Bears aren’t too unusual, but this one leaves huge prints in the snow and only walks on its hind legs. When they follow the prints, they are horrified when they lead to a cave filled with animal bones and organs—sorted into piles. When a group of cryptozoologists wander into William’s territory, searching for the very monster that William and Mattie have just seen evidence of, all hell breaks loose. William will do anything to get rid of them, even shoot them if he has to. Mattie has suddenly realized that the appearance of Griffin and his friends might offer her an opportunity to escape, and the monster—unseen but lurking high in the trees of the forest and ready to swoop down on the unsuspecting humans—only wants to rid its mountain lair of the intruders once and for all.  Near the Bone was a super fast read, mostly because the suspense was so well done that I just had to keep reading. Henry is really good at creating tension in her stories, especially here where we have a couple of mysteries going on at the same time. The “monster” is never really seen, which makes it even scarier, in my opinion. We know it’s huge and can creep silently through the forest, and it appears to be intelligent, which adds another level of terror. We also have the mystery of Mattie and how she came to be living with William. Henry drops hints here and there as Mattie starts to regain her memories, so it’s not too hard to piece things together. Still, I was riveted by her story—as horrible as it is—and even though the resolution wasn’t a huge surprise, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out what was going to happen. Add in the setting—a cold and snowy, secluded mountain top—and you have a fantastic recipe for suspense. As you can imagine, William is a horrible man, and in my opinion he’s the real monster in this story. He kidnapped Mattie when she was eight and forced her to live with him. He regularly beats her if she doesn’t follow his directions or if she asks too many questions. As punishment, he often withholds food, so she’s always hungry. He forces her to wear old fashioned clothing like long skirts, and because there’s no electricity in the cabin, chores like laundry must be done by hand. Worst of all, he’s been raping her since she was a young teenager, something she dreads every night at bedtime. Mattie has forgotten most of her life before she came to the mountain, but now those old memories are starting to come back. One of the most harrowing scenes in the book takes place late in the story as Mattie remembers exactly what happened the night William took her from her home, which was worse than any scene involving the monster.  I thought Mattie’s character was really well done and believable. She’s only about twenty and she’s spent most of her life in a horrible situation, so she doesn’t have a real sense of the danger she’s in. She believes all the nonsense that William has spewed out over the years, and even though she’s not happy, she doesn’t have anything to compare her life to. That is until a few events start to jog her memory and she realizes she was taken away from her other life, one with a caring mother and sister. It turns out Mattie is actually pretty smart, despite her lack of schooling and the way William has kept her in the dark about nearly everything. I also liked her brief interactions with the monster, who she seems to have a connection to, and even though the rest of the characters are being terrorized by it, I was never worried about Mattie, for some reason. The last half of the story veers into slasher territory, and there are a few delightfully gruesome scenes involving the monster. Henry ends her story before everything is resolved, and I was OK with that. If you enjoy horror, both the graphic and the psychological variety, you’ll probably have a good time with Near the Bone. Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2021/04/05/... Are you hankering for something scary, but can’t decide whether you want a survival horror, creature feature, or a bloody slasher? Believe it or not, Near the Bone has elements from all of these to satisfy any mood, and what’s certain is that Christina Henry had only one goal in mind when writing this book: to put her readers constantly on edge. Our protagonist is Mattie, a young woman who lives on the mountain with her h 3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2021/04/05/... Are you hankering for something scary, but can’t decide whether you want a survival horror, creature feature, or a bloody slasher? Believe it or not, Near the Bone has elements from all of these to satisfy any mood, and what’s certain is that Christina Henry had only one goal in mind when writing this book: to put her readers constantly on edge. Our protagonist is Mattie, a young woman who lives on the mountain with her husband, William. For as long as she can remember, it has only been the two of them, eking out a meager existence from the wintry woods surrounding their tiny cabin. For one thing, William goes to great lengths to ensure they aren’t disturbed, warning off anyone who gets close to their property. Mattie herself is forbidden from talking to anyone or straying too far from the cabin. In fact, she is not allowed any outside contact at all. Her whole world revolves around serving William, cooking and cleaning for him, and to one day bear him the sons he so wants. But no matter what Mattie does, she can’t seem to please him. And whenever William is disappointed, he gets nasty with his insults and beats her mercilessly. One day, Mattie is out checking the traps when she comes across the carcass of a fox that has been brutally ripped apart, as well as the nearby tracks of some mysterious creature—tracks that are much too large to have been made by any known predator. Determined to hunt and kill it, William goes into town for supplies, leaving Mattie at the cabin alone when two college students show up at the door, claiming to be cryptozoology enthusiasts. They’ve heard tell of a monster up in these mountains and are on a mission to seek it out. Horrified, Mattie tries to stop them, telling them they’re in way over their heads. Whatever this creature is, it’s dangerous and unnatural. However, rather than heed her warnings, one of the strangers seem more curious about Mattie, asserting that he’s seen her before. But that shouldn’t be possible, since Mattie can’t recall the last time she’s been in the presence of another person other than her husband. All she knows is that the students must leave. She doesn’t know what would be worse—that the young men would run afoul of the bloodthirsty creature, or if William found out they had been at to his home and had spoken to her. The author wastes no time setting up the scene for a helter-skelter race for survival as Mattie and her new companions attempt to escape a nightmare scenario with threats coming at them from every direction. First there’s William, an enraged and fanatical madman armed to the teeth and who won’t hesitate to murder them all to prevent Mattie from leaving him. And then there’s the monster, a frighteningly intelligent creature capable of evil and great violence, which has its sights set on the humans who had invaded its home. All of this is set to the backdrop of the cold and forbidding mountainside, miles from civilization with no cell coverage. Our hapless characters are tired, injured, and ill-equipped for the weather and terrain, in no condition to fight off anything—human or supernatural—that’s hunting them. There’s also a traumatic backstory for Mattie, involving kidnapping, child abuse, and domestic violence that might make this book a tough read for some. Heartbreaking as well were her constant feelings of terror and anxiety, from the years of intimidation and pain William had inflicted upon her. If I’m being honest, I personally found this thread surrounding our protagonist and her past to be far more mysterious, upsetting and horrific than any of the parts featuring the monster. Henry pulls no punches when it comes detailing the awfulness of Mattie’s existence, though it’s not done in a way that feels overly gratuitous—just keeping things real. In fact, the story actually loses much of its grip on me in the later parts, as Mattie attempts to make her escape from the mountain with the college students. Here, the book takes on more of the tone of a teen slasher flick featuring helpless, naïve kids who are cluelessly stumbling around the woods trying to evade an axe murderer. While it was still suspenseful, the plot does become more pedestrian at this point, with over-the-top scenes of blood and gore as well as tacky unrealistic dialogue by characters that undermined what should have been a downright terrifying scenario. Ultimately, it was undoubtedly the smaller, subtler moments of horror in this book that were more effective, and which resonated more powerfully with me. For this reason, I was also not as bothered by the vagueness of the ending, since I felt it was appropriate that some of the mystery be preserved, but I can also understand why some might be frustrated by the lack of answers or explanation of the creature. Overall, Near the Bone can’t be rightly called a popcorn or “light” read since it contains an abundance of overly dark and disturbing themes, though it does go by rather quickly, and there’s certainly enough to give one a quick shot of fright if a no-frills, fast-paced horror is what you’re in the mood for.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Zoey Erby

    *I was sent an ebook of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review* Okay I wanted to like this book, I really did. I didn't hate it, but I just could not vibe with it. It felt like the book was having an identity crisis. It couldn't decide if it wanted to be a domestic thriller with a big twist, or if it wanted to be a claustrophobic creature feature horror book. It tried to be both and it just didn't work out very well. You got two partially developed themes which both had poten *I was sent an ebook of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review* Okay I wanted to like this book, I really did. I didn't hate it, but I just could not vibe with it. It felt like the book was having an identity crisis. It couldn't decide if it wanted to be a domestic thriller with a big twist, or if it wanted to be a claustrophobic creature feature horror book. It tried to be both and it just didn't work out very well. You got two partially developed themes which both had potential. I just wish that Henry had chosen one or the other because they both felt like afterthoughts. How do you have a cohesive story that really just consists of two afterthought plots? They were just both so underdeveloped and there was a problem with convenience. And so much happened "off-screen" that it took away from the more gruesome horror aspect. I have no clue what the creature looks like. I have no idea what it wanted, what its level of intelligence was. All of these things were skirted around and never fully developed. Speaking of not fully developed, what about William? Don't get me wrong, I don't care about him as a person but what were his motivations? Why did he do the awful thing that he did, what was the process behind that? We get this cognitive dissonance out of Mattie pretty early on, but there was nothing to incite it, nothing that would have triggered these memories. It's important that she starts having these memories, but for it to make sense, there has to be something that triggers these sudden memories. Without it, it's just that she randomly started having thoughts for the sake of convenience and so now her behavior is going to change-- Oh look! A monster I guess? The abusive aspect of the story felt incredibly lacking in nuance. Which is a problem that I feel like I see in a lot of novels with domestic violence as a plot device. The abuser is always so one-dimensional, they hurt for the sake of hurting, they never have a "nice" (or just pretend nice) side. But like, realistically, would there not another faker side to the abuser where they just behave like a normal person? Let me stress that I don't think that abusers should be written as sympathetic characters or written as to appear justified. I just want it to feel more realistic, less forced and just clunky. Where is the Willam that got her there in the first place? This kind of leads me into my next problem, the characters all felt flat, even Mattie felt pretty flat. The dialogue felt forced and also kind of clunky. There are some positives, I think that the twist was really shocking and creative. The horror scenes that we do see were very visceral and gruesome. Henry really knew how to set up the horror in the book and follow through in a way that kept the reader on edge. The use of description in general was very adept. I felt like I was in the moment with the characters, there was depth in their emotions (if not their personalities) that was very well done. I don't think that Henry is a bad writer at all. I just think that the premise as a whole, just didn't end up working out for me. The concepts were there, but the execution just wasn't for me. Once again, if this had just been a domestic thriller with Mattie trying to escape her husband and the two of them just playing cat and mouse on the mountain, that would've been great. That could've gotten developed so much more and added so much more nuance to the characters. Or if it were a book about a couple trying to survive on the mountain while being hunted by the monster, that would've also been really cool! But as it stands, it just wasn't for me. Hopefully I can read another of her books sometime and improve my overall opinion of her as a writer!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stormi (BMReviewsohmy)

    I am really bummed about this but I do believe this will be my last attempt at reading Christina Henry, I need to just realize that she was a one hit wonder with me as out of the four books by her I have read I only loved Lost Boy. Mattie lives with a horrible man who is very abusive and they live out in the mountains alone and he won't let her do much of anything. He does let her go check their traps where she found something strange. There was a dead animal with some very weird prints in the sn I am really bummed about this but I do believe this will be my last attempt at reading Christina Henry, I need to just realize that she was a one hit wonder with me as out of the four books by her I have read I only loved Lost Boy. Mattie lives with a horrible man who is very abusive and they live out in the mountains alone and he won't let her do much of anything. He does let her go check their traps where she found something strange. There was a dead animal with some very weird prints in the snow. She tells William about it and he is not happy about something be there on their mountain. It could attract unwanted attention. He also thinks it's big so it would be a lot of meat if he could kill it. They find it's cave and it doesn't act like a normal creature as they find bones divided up, skulls all in one place, etc. Later that night the creature comes close to their cabin and leaves a warning of some sort. Mattie thinks it was mad they went to it's cave. While out looking for the creature they meet Griffin who it seems is cryptid fan and when he sees Mattie he thinks she looks familiar. Him even talking to Mattie get's her into trouble by William. Griffin though it seems can't quit worrying about her and decides to have his friends come with him to find them which just gets everyone in trouble. I find it hard to describe without giving something away but it basically ends up being them trying to survive against William and a creature. I absolutely hated this story from the get go and almost gave up on it several times. William was so abusive, I wanted to reach into the book and hit him! I couldn't get over this horribly unlikeable character and the abuse he inflicted on Mattie though almost half the book. Who wants to read that? Not to mention some of the things you learn William (trying not to spoil) It made my blood boil. I want to read a book that is entertaining not hate it so bad because of the characters. Then I got to where I didn't like Mattie cause I couldn't see why she stayed. I would have took my chances and ran! Once about 60% gets there and they are trying to survive on the mountain it got a bit interesting but I was already so mad at it that it didn't really do anything to help my thoughts of the story. Then you never even get to know what the creature is as it never explains anything. You  verily get any descriptions of it. To be honest I think this story would have been the same without the creature. William would have tried to kill everyone with or without the creature. I think the only character I kind of liked was C.P. as he had some fun dialogue! I know a lot of people have enjoyed this book and so I really think it wasn't a book for me. Barb said it best when she said it was more like a domestic thriller with a bit of supernatural thrown in. It just wasn't what I hoped and it will take a lot to get me to read this author again and I am sad. I was going to DNF it and I should have and Barb told me to go ahead and do so and I should have listened because I couldn't get my mind past the first half of the book. This was by far the worst of the ones I didn't like from here. :(

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