I was wondering what I was going to read for Hanukkah when the answer fell into my lap, or my latest library haul. Bonfire by Krysten Ritter is her first novel and it’s a mystery about a main character with a past, a town with a secret, and a corrupt corporation. We’ve always known she was a talented actress but now we know she’s a good writer too.
The story was interesting, focusing on high school outcast turned environmental lawyer Abigail Williams who returns home to investigate the local plastic company. There’s the current mystery and the one from the past that still haunt Abby to this day. But there’s a mystery that runs even deeper than the two that sit before Abby waiting to be solved.
Bonfire is a good book and an interesting read but it’s been heaped with praise I’m not sure it deserves. I have no idea what ‘electric prose’ Blake Crouch is raving about. The prose was fine but I think Ritter overuses metaphor in a way that’s kind of cliché, especially in a first novel or for a mystery let alone both. It’s a good book but I don’t know if it lives up to the hype.
The ending bugged me a bit too. MILD SPOILERS: When it all wraps up (and it does), Abby is just done with the Barrens despite forming a connection with some there. Why does that relationship have to die? Why can’t they stay in touch and be close? She’s adrift in the world and she’s going to toss one of the few anchors she’s got? I call bull shit.
I could have leaned either way since this was a 3.5 for me but I erred on the side of 4 because it’s good, it’s compelling, and I’d like to see more books from Ritter in the future. I think she’ll only get better as a writer. 4/5