Let me start by saying that I have a mega creative crush on Krysten Ritter. I loved her in Gilmore Girls, Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, and I can’t wait for more of Jessica Jones. I love that she knits, writes, and thanks to getting to hear her speak at BookCon, know that she says to as many creative projects that feel for fun for her.
As far as her debut novel, "Bonfire" was a middle of the road read for me, 3.5 stars.
For being a short book (just 276 in the Advanced Reader's edition) it took me three days to read it, not so much because my life was busy (which it was to a mild extent) but because I wasn’t riveted by the story. Whenever a reason appeared to stand up and set the book down I never had a hard time saying no.
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.
With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of just five claustrophobic miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of the question: can you ever outrun your past?
Despite getting a fair amount of Abby’s history I never really connected with her, rooted for her, or felt much of anything other than being something of a passive observer. I don't mind flawed characters, but I list of hurts and justified hangups isn't the same as being interesting.
There were a few mysteries at the center of the story, one about the potential shady chemical dealings of the company in the town, and the mystery of what happened to Abby’s one time friend and eventual enemy, Kaycee. As the layers of the mystery get pulled back and more subplots get introduced the story starts to feel a little thin under the weight of all its trying to juggle. It also felt a bit like Abby happened to luck into a fair amount of the information that she needed, which given that the character is a lawyer and not a detective, makes sense of some level, but I couldn't help but find unlikely or convenient to some degree.
Without spoiling anything I will say that I appreciated that the mystery wasn’t left open-ended, but I did feel like the ending got buttoned up rather hastily with a further severing of any emotional ties to the main character.
I will happily pick up anything Ritter creates in the future, but this wasn’t my favorite.