The Bone Factory
Review by Nickolas Cook
When David Pierce, a young out of work, and seemingly blacklisted, hydropower engineer is offered a dream job in the frozen waste of Jackson, Quebec City, Canada to oversee troubleshooting for a new hydro power plant he leaps at the second chance the new job offers. So he packs his bags and his family (wife Helen and their daughter Jessica, who is an innocent, naïve but very powerful precog) and away they go.
But all is not right in Jackson. There have been several strange disappearances and the new watchman that lives out in the woods on the outskirts of the hydro power plant is a little … well … off. Soon, David and his family are fighting to for their lives in the snow blasted forest where nothing is what it seems.
For all intents and purposes, Nate Kenyon’s newest release from Leisure tends to come off like a poor man’s Stephen King. He even uses a lot of the usual King tropes (or at least they were in the ’80s): young psychic, down and out father, mulling and uncertain mother, small town secrets. Some would say King perfected those hoary tropes long ago. Kenyon doesn’t do them any harm, here; but neither does he give us anything new from them.
And maybe that’s not all bad, for some horror fans – those who have no issue retreading the tried and true formulas of old. But for those who are looking for exciting new voices, new angles, and new style, this may disappoint.
Some of the basic things that hurt The Bone Factory?
A too slow pace. By the halfway point of the novel, nothing of significance has happened; a lot of setup, a lot of character development – not much else.
For me, Jessica’s POV feels disingenuous throughout the narrative: it’s an adult’s version of a child’s POV and it never feels real.
There are times when Kenyon’s reasoning for the family choosing to stay in a house that is so obviously not safe for them or their child seems shaky at best. In reality, one would hope that people who know a child has already gone missing, as have several others, in that same locale would get them to rethink their choice of living arrangements. Especially when convenience seems to be the main factor in their staying there.
Towards the end, two things occur that left me feeling bemused. Kenyon makes a huge leap in narrative logic that the killer wants a showdown with David. Nowhere, up to that point, is there any significant setup for such a thing. It just appears out of nowhere. Another was Kenyon’s reluctance to give us the promised exciting scene of the killer’s attack on Helen and Jessica. We get the aftermath: it was all foreplay.
One last thing that I implore Kenyon to avoid in future: do not switch from the intimate 3rd person to a remote and dry omniscient POV at end of chapters. Example: And that’s how they found themselves riding in the car with the Sheriff … They make for very jarring transitions.
In the end, there are just too many seemingly pointless tangents and red herrings to make this more than a usual run-of-the-mill Leisure release.