Saturday, April 3, 2010

Bonechiller by Graham McNamee

Main character: Teenager Danny and his friends, Ash, Howie and Pike
Location: The Big Empty part of northern Canada
Time period: contemporary
Genre: YA Fiction, Horror

I really enjoyed this scary story which eschewed the common monsters--vampires, zombies, werewolves--in favor of a lesser-known creature from Native American folklore--the wendigo. And, like the best horror films, the monster is mostly an unseen menace terrorizing a small group of teenagers in the dead of winter in an almost deserted town in far northern Canada. The main character, Danny, is a newcomer to the town, which is a popular summer vacation spot but in winter is no one's idea of fun. His friends are military brats whose fathers are stationed at the nearby base. Ash is a champion boxer and a Native American--it's her father that tells Danny the legend of the wendigo--and just on the cusp of becoming Danny's girlfriend. Howie and Pike are brothers but as different as can be. Big brother Pike is a borderline delinquent who is fond of demolition and military ordnance, but is also fiercely protective of little brother Howie, the brains of the group.

The suspense builds slowly at first--was Danny followed by a pack of dogs, a monster, or just his overactive imagination? And are he and Howie really under the monster's influence, or just sick with a rare, incurable disease? And what about the teens who have disappeared, a few at a time, every so often, through the years? Were they discontented runaways sick of life in a small town, or were they the monster's previous victims?

Bonechiller is on the 2010 TAYSHAS High School Reading list.

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