Ink and Bone is one of those books that seem to have so much going for it right up front that I couldn’t wait to get started on it. It combines elements of several genres (mystery, thriller, crime fiction, horror, etc.) and does it in a way that takes each of the various genres seriously enough to keep the story more or less believable no matter how strange some of its paranormal elements eventually become. But at a point just over half way through, the plot took a twist (exaggerated, I think by a slight style-change decision) that began to frustrate and confuse me. And even though the book’s ending is a satisfying one, I still wish it had not become so unnecessarily complicated before reaching that point.
Longtime fans of Lisa Unger are likely already to be familiar with Eloise Montgomery, one of the main characters of Ink and Bone because Eloise, a psychic who works closely with a New York state detective to find missing persons, has been featured in several Unger novels and short stories preceding this one. This time around, Eloise has been joined in The Hollows (a rather quaint upstate New York village) by her twenty-year-old granddaughter, Finley, who seems to share the same psychic skills that have so defined her grandmother’s life. Finley’s own powers are growing noticeably without her being able to control or understand them, and the young woman has come to her grandmother for help and advice.
And, as it turns out, she is exactly where she needs to be. Little girls and young women have been periodically disappearing (or have otherwise been abused) in The Hollows for a long time – and it is happening again. One mother, who has been looking for her missing daughter for almost a year, and who refuses to give up hope until a body is found, has finally gotten desperate enough to place her last hopes in Eloise and Private Investigator Jones Cooper even though she is not herself a believer in Eloise’s supposed skills. But as it turns out, Eloise is not the psychic in the house who can help her.
Ink and Bone has enough of a mystery about it to keep mystery fans turning its pages throughout, and its three main characters are easy ones with which to identify. Too, it has enough of the elements of a pure horror novel going for it that fans of that genre are sure to remain intrigued. Unger stumbles a bit, however, by over-complicating the plot to the degree that it becomes difficult to keep up with a multitude of side-characters and how they relate to main plot. There are so many layers to Ink and Bone that I never did resolve some of them in my mind – and I find that to be frustrating.
(Review Copy provided by Publisher)