Bonfire by Krysten Ritter
|Bonfire by Krysten Ritter|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Luke Marlowe|
|Summary: A cleverly-written conspiracy thriller told with style and intilligence, Bonfire is a remarkably impressive debut from the multi-talented Krysten Ritter.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: November 2017|
|Publisher: Crown Archetype|
|External links: Author's website|
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 she tries desperately to find out what really happened to Kaycee, troubling memories begin to resurface and she begins to doubt her own observations. And when she unearths an even more disturbing secret -- a ritual called The Game, it will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.
Krysten Ritter is an actress and former model, best known for Breaking Bad, Don't Trust the B__ in Apartment 23 and as the titular character in Jessica Jones. She's also co-written several projects, from a television pilot about her days as a model, through to the smart and funny film Life Happens.
The debut celebrity novel is a tricky beast - often co-written, it's rare that the quality is particularly high - the general expectation being that the book will sell due to the name of the celebrity rather than anything else. Marvellously, this isn't the case here - Ritter has created a clever and compelling read that combines elements of conspiracy thrillers with the drama of high school.
Abby Williams is a great lead character - driven and independent, yet still clearly haunted by the ghosts of a troubled childhood. Those ghosts are stirred up when work forces her to return to her hometown - full of old classmates who have failed to move on from their high school days, and whose presence soon has Abby returning to what was an immensely dark time for her. Adding to that, the investigation that she's arrived to do turns into a dark conspiracy that ties closely into her difficult teenage years, and Abby is set on a path full of danger, romance and old rivalries.
The combination of thriller and high school drama works immensely well - Ritter's revisiting of the school experience is vivid and evocative, and will no doubt stir up unpleasant memories for many readers. Combined with the conspiracy thriller elements that form the main plot, it makes this a complete page turner - leading to a dramatic and rather satisfying conclusion.
What really made this work well for me was the strong characterisation throughout - not just Abby, but all those she encounters along the way. Ritter is careful not to veer into the caricatures that can often go alongside tales of high school, instead creating layered and troubled characters who provide emotional high stakes to go alongside the main thrust of the plot.
A hugely impressive debut, Ritter has created a gripping thriller with intelligence and depth - it's not your run of the mill celebrity novel, but something a whole lot more. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy. For further reading I recommend Rooms by Lauren Oliver - an emotional read that, like Bonfire, cleverly draws up the pains and frustrations of school and combines them with intelligent adult drama.
You can read more book reviews or buy Bonfire by Krysten Ritter at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Bonfire by Krysten Ritter at Amazon.com.
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