My review: 4 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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 tried 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?
Bonfire is a dark, twisty, slow-burn of a novel. It took me a few days to read the majority of the novel, but once I reached the final third, I could not put this book down! The overarching mystery was just complicated enough to keep the reader guessing and Ritter does an excellent job of merging the past with the present. I also appreciate that this novel questions the dynamics of men in power. Ritter examines the consequences of greedy individuals, the effects of living under the patriarchy in the modern world, and the people who contribute to corruption. Some of the plot developments left me angry, but it was clear that Ritter wants the reader to be angry. I can’t really divulge why without ruining the ending, but I’m always happy to talk more outside of the comment section!
I really liked our protagonist, Abby. She was far from perfect and I appreciated that she never tried to be. She shows considerable character development throughout the novel as she tries to come to grips with the reality of the small town she left behind. Bonfire does a great job of examining and demonstrating the long-term effects of our childhood, our home life, and our relationships. Many of the characters in Bonfire are terrible people, but they’re supposed to be. In this rural town full of corruption, everyone is looking out for themselves. It’s difficult to ascertain who to trust, and Ritter does a great job of keeping the big reveal a surprise.
From a diversity standpoint, this book does okay. The protagonist is a woman, as are many of the supporting characters. However, the vast majority of the characters are white and heterosexual. I realize that with a story set in rural Indiana, that’s pretty much a set character type, but there could have been more diversity with the lawyer team from Chicago. Also, Indiana does not exist in a vacuum. People of color live there. 100% of the population is not heterosexual. If Ritter writes more novels, I hope her character base diversifies.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book! This is a wonderfully executed debut novel and I would highly recommend this book to other thriller fans. This book is also perfect for fans of Krysten Ritter, the actor, as Bonfire’s protagonist is a character that Ritter herself would likely play.
This book is…
smashing the patriarchy
This book contains content warnings for…
sexual assault of children
Publisher: Crown Archetype
Page Count: 288 for the hardcover
Available here on Book Depository.
Will you read Bonfire? What book(s) did you read this weekend?