White Bones: Book Review

Leave a comment

March 9, 2013 by spinechillers

Graham Masterton has a gruesome imagination. He put it to good use in his early novels. Tales of supernatural terror like The Manitou, The Djinn and Charnel House. These were classics of the 1970s boom in horror literature, found on the bookshelves alongside Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Peter Straub.


His latest novel, White Bones, was originally published as A Terrible Beauty in 2003 but is now available as an ebook from Amazon. Masterton continues to play with the idea of demons and spirits but this time the supernatural themed adventure begins as a detective story when a huge quantity of human bones are unearthed from beneath an Irish farmhouse. Detective superintendent Katie Maguire has the task of solving this eighty-year-old mystery, the ritual dismemberment and burial of eleven women.

Katie tugged on a tight plastic glove and accepted one of the bones. It had been pierced at the upper end, where it would have fitted into the hip socket, and a short length of greasy twine had been tied through the hole.

Naturally, one cannot be a detective in fiction without harbouring some demons of your own and for Katie this literary trope originates in the death of her child, the story of which leaks out piecemeal in the first half of the book. This would be enough to hamper most detectives but Katie Maguire has a more urgent problem firmly rooted in the present, Paul, her wheeler-dealer boyfriend. Paul is in big trouble with a local gangster having stolen not only some building materials but also, for one night at least, the gangster’s girlfriend. As a female I have no idea what Katie sees in him. But, that aside, it makes for an interesting situation with danger at every turn. In the end it doesn’t matter whether you die at the hands of gangsters, serial killers or Irish demons, you’re still dead.

He turned left up a steep, winding hill, where the nettles and the brown-seeded foxgloves crowded even closer. At the top of the hill there was a sagging five-bar gate, every bar still bejewelled with raindrops, and beyond that stood a damp-looking cottage with one side thickly shrouded in creeper.

Southern Ireland is the perfect setting for a horror story. Graham Masterton knows the area well and brings together many different strands, its distinctive landscape, quirky characters, criminal underworld, postcolonial past and supernatural heritage to good effect. The story is always moving forward, Katie Maguire being dragged this way and that in her quest.

“My father died of stomach cancer, you know, and he said that sometimes it hurt so much the pain was almost beautiful. He said it was like a huge scarlet flower, opening up inside his very soul, like one luxuriant petal after another.”

And then there is the killer. And the gore. And what seemed at first to be an historical mystery turns into something much more horrific as we see the murderous ritual being enacted on a poor hitchhiker who was lured into a car by a smile and that fabled Irish charm.

She was beginning to feel a genuine sense of dread. This wasn’t just butchery. This was deeply rooted in the Ireland of legend and mysticism – the Ireland of evil fairies and gray shadows that hurried through the rain, and white-faced mermaids who sat on the rocks and screamed and screamed until a man could go mad.

How does all this work out? It would be unfair to tell. But if you have read some of Graham Masterton’s early works, you might want to try some of his more recent fare. I enjoyed it as a dose of good old-fashioned horror and I don’ t mean that in any derogatory way. Story used to be everything and Masterton has never forgotten that. My only regret is that White Bones doesn’t have one of those wonderful covers from the 70s. I wasn’t around at the time these books were originally published but if, like me, you relish these garish covers you can do no better than visit Will Errickson’s Too Much Horror Fiction blog where you will find gorgeous book covers aplenty.

Meanwhile, check out Graham Masterton’s White Bones on Amazon. I got the Kindle edition for a mere 85 pence. Bargain!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Past Entries

Wicker Girl

Wicker Girl is an aficionado of horror. I love the supernatural and terror in film and fiction. And this is another portal to my deep dark dungeon of dreams. Join, comment and share. All fans of the genre are welcome.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Brin's Book Blog

ramblings of a bumbling bibliophile

Author & Writer Anthony Donnelly

Writings & Spiritual Musings

Survivre la Nuit

Le blog de l'écrivain Vincent Mondiot. Pop-punk et dépression.

Hammy Reviews

Reviews of Films, TV Shows, WWE and more...

LEO - Love Emotion Own

LEO - Love Emotion Own

The Creative Penn

Just another WordPress.com site

The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss's 4-Hour Workweek and Lifestyle Design Blog. Tim is an author of 5 #1 NYT/WSJ bestsellers, investor (FB, Uber, Twitter, 50+ more), and host of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast (400M+ downloads)

Too Much Horror Fiction

Welcome to my World of Horror

The Jobbing Scriptwriter

making ALL the mistakes so you don't have to


Welcome to my World of Horror

The Vault of Horror

Welcome to my World of Horror

A Newbie's Guide to Publishing

Welcome to my World of Horror

The Celluloid Highway

Welcome to my World of Horror

Bloody Disgusting!

Horror movie news, reviews, interviews, videos, podcasts and more

%d bloggers like this: