Book Review: The Bone Mother by David Demchuk

bone mother book cover

The Bone Mother
by David Demchuk
ChiZine
300 pages
Release Date: August 2017
Review copy purchased at a book convention in 2018. I was in no way compensated by the author or publisher for posting this review.

Description: “The Giller longlist includes the first-ever horror novel to be in contention for Canada’s most prestigious literary prize.” – The Globe and Mail.

Three neighboring villages on the Ukrainian/Romanian border are the final refuge for the last of the mythical creatures of Eastern Europe. Now, on the eve of the war that may eradicate their kind—and with the ruthless Night Police descending upon their sanctuary—they tell their stories and confront their destinies.

Eerie and unsettling like the best fairy tales, these incisor-sharp portraits of ghosts, witches, sirens, and seers—and the mortals who live at their side and in their thrall—will chill your marrow and tear at your heart.

Review: Not a novel in the conventional sense, but this offering from David Demchuk, whose work I had not previously read, offers some interconnected short tales that eventually converge in a surprising way. Right off the bat, I was impressed to see the unique Eastern European/Slavic mythology and scary fairy tales that this book incorporated. It is indeed written very well, but definitely read more like a short story collection to me–which is not a criticism in any way, just more of a commentary on how I experienced it as a reader. If you’re looking for unconventional horror, this definitely fits the bill. The voices within are very distinctive and strong–it’s almost like holding a collection of ghosts and playing their stories. What added to this for me was the incorporation of the archival photographs, which definitely enhanced the reading experience for me.

About the Author: David Demchuk has been writing for theatre, film, television, radio, and other media for more than thirty years. His reviews, essays, interviews and columns have appeared in such magazines as Toronto Life, Xtra, What! Magazine, and the Toronto StarThe Bone Mother is his first novel.

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