BONE GAP by Laura Ruby

Bone Gap is a quiet and masterful tale of two brothers living in a small town whose lives are changed by the mysterious appearance of a beautiful Polish immigrant. Roza is a friend and beacon of hope to 18 year old Finn, known for his dreamy, absentminded behavior – and a spark in the heart to older brother Sean, who gave up his dreams long ago after their mother abandoned them. Just as suddenly, Roza is gone again – abducted by a stranger Finn can’t describe.

The town of Bone Gap puts its head together and murmurs – was it foul play? Did she abandon them too, fly away as fast and thoughtlessly as their mother? Does Finn know more than he’s letting on?

I don’t want to spoil it – but let’s just say this book was not what I expected. It was wonderful, which I did expect, but it was always unusual and spell-casting in a way I’ve not experienced in another book. Simplistic moments merge easily into surrealistic moments. The two brothers are memorably brought to life – the barn animals, the goats and horses and chickens – the eccentric neighbors, the beekeepers daughter, the best friend, the bullies. The writing was lyrical and yet sparse, never lingering too long anywhere, always moving the plot steadily forward through the corn fields.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – A MEMORABLE READ – MAGICAL REALISM AT ITS FINEST.

RATING: FIVE STARS

Title: Bone Gap
Author: Laura Ruby
Originally published: March 3, 2015
Genre: Young adult fiction

 

THE EMPEROR OF ANY PLACE by Tim Wynne-Jones

 

The Emperor of Any Place is about men. Specifically, the Canadian son of a draft dodging American, his military grandfather, and two soldiers shipwrecked on a mysterious island from opposing sides of WWII.

It deals with growing up, grief, responsibility, fathers and sons, male mentors, and male friends. There’s a nice mystery that baited me enough that I actually finished the book, even though I was only halfheartedly invested. The author went on and on about things I found tedious and boring (constructing forts, shelters, miniature boat models). There were tangent plotlines that felt irrelevant, mainly the bits about the grandson, his band and his friends. But there were also very intriguing elements – the diary of the two men on the island, for example.

The author did a excellent job of capturing the language construction of a Japanese soldier and his diary entries were generally the most interesting. The other interesting thing was the island itself… home to restless ghosts, monsters, and other strange beings. It’s not presented a fantasy though, merely a place where Japanese mythologies and folklore exists… and it’s as baffling and terrifying to the two men shipwrecked there as it was to me, the reader. In fact, the men on the island knew no one would believe what happened to them, thus their years of secrecy and the heart of the mystery.

My favorite weird plot element was the concept of each man’s lineage were unborn spirits… existing as ghostly children waiting to be born. And that the men could tap into these memories, of their unborn selves following their ancestors… well, that was fascinating.

Still, it just didn’t do it for me. I don’t generally like historical novels or mysteries, so this just isn’t my cup of tea. 

RATING: THREE STARS

Title: The Emperor of Any Place
Author: Tim Wynne-Jones
Originally published: October 13, 2015
Genre: Fiction