Book Review – River of Bones by Jodi Cleghorn

This is a cross-post from Adventures of a Bookonaut.

river_thumb[1]River of Bones was previously published by the Australian Review of Fiction under the title of Elyora, the name of the town featured in the novella.  I read it back in January and by a stroke of good fortune happened to read Dr Lisa L Hannett’s article, Wide Open Fear: Australian Horror and Gothic Fiction at the same time.  Hannett introduced me to the concept of unheimlich, a term that roughly translates to an object, situation or place that has a quality of being familiar yet foreign at the same time.

The term describes River of Bones perfectly.  The setting is familiar, yet strange and Cleghorn presents a story that straddles the borderline between the everyday, the mundane and the disturbing.  She presents an Australian landscape and characters that I know and manages to embed a “wrongness”, a fractured reality that builds until the true horror is revealed.

Australia is the sort of country where a wrong turn can kill you, either the people, the animals or the environment.  The initial opening of the tale ( a short prologue was added with the new edition) starts off with a band in their combi-van traveling an outback road to a gig.  Most Australian’s have that experience of the road trip, of turning off into towns bypassed by the highway, of taking shortcuts that turnout to be long-ways-around.  Elyora could be anyone of a hundred once-were-towns in my state.

Read the rest of this review at Adventures of a Bookonaut.


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