Should you ever go back?
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 Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game,” which will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.
With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of just five claustrophobic miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of the question: can you ever outrun your past?
Disclaimer: I received an ARC from Book Con 2017
so I can’t say how this differs from the final printed version.
My friend borrowed my ARC and read it first. She’s a fan of Krysten’s acting work but was disappointed in her first novel. She said there was too much environmental stuff. She just wanted the hometown story.
That lowered my expectations about the novel. I thought I would be bored with environmental jargon. I felt the opposite. Abby leaves most of the environmental research to her team, and 3/4 of the way through they go back to Chicago to continue investigating there. Abby becomes more and more obsessed with what happened to her friend, Kaycee, ten years ago, and the scholarship conspiracy at Optimal.
**Minor spoilers below**
I was actually getting annoyed with Abby toward the end. She was being so stupid. She was trying to uncover a conspiracy but spiraling out of control at the same time. Girl, stop drinking. Get your sh– together.
Her associate, Joe, some friend he is. He could have helped Abby more when he saw her behavior. I became annoyed with him too. Your friend needs help, do something.
Why didn’t Kaycee just tell Abby she was being poisoned? Or tell the school nurse? Why be so cryptic and leave Abby the dog collar as a clue? You’re throwing up blood, this is no time for games.
I know that was a lot of frustration I expressed, but at least I felt something. At first I was expecting this novel to make me feel numb. I never fully connected to any of the characters.
When I was reading the beginning and middle I felt a little bored and I thought I would end up hating it. I kept reading because, as despicable as she is, I needed to know what happened to Kaycee. It picked up in the last half and I sailed through the chapters.
I know this was an ARC but the action scene at the end of the novel could have used more detail. I found it hard to picture the scene playing out.
Bonfire is not a terrible start for Krysten’s first book but she should keep writing to improve this skill.
3 out of 5 Optimal Scholarships. (I was tempted to give it a 2, but since I was able to finish it quickly it gets a 3.)