The Singing Bone
Seventeen-year-old Alice Pearson can’t wait to graduate from high school and escape the small town in upstate New York where she grew up. In the meantime, she and her three closest friends spend their time listening to Led Zeppelin, avoiding their dysfunctional families, and getting high in the nearby woods. Then they meet the enigmatic Jack Wyck, who lives in the rambling old farmhouse across the reservoir. Enticed by his quasi-mystical philosophy and the promise of a constant party, Alice and her friends join Mr. Wyck’s small group of devoted followers. But once in his thrall, their heady, freewheeling idyll takes an increasingly sinister turn, and Alice finds herself crossing psychological and moral boundaries that erode her hold on reality. When Mr. Wyck’s grand scheme goes wrong, culminating in a night of horrific murders, Alice’s already crumbling world falls into chaos, and she barely makes her way back to normal life. Twenty years later, Alice has created a quiet life for herself as a professor of folklore, but an acclaimed filmmaker threatens to expose her secret past when he begins making a documentary about Jack Wyck’s crimes and the cult-like following that he continues to attract even from his prison cell. Jack Wyck has never forgiven Alice for testifying against him, and as he plots to overturn his conviction and regain his freedom, she is forced to confront the long suppressed memories of what happened to her in the farmhouse—and her complicity in the evil around her.
Yes, cults again. I know, it’s like I can’t stop reading about this topic. And this book was so good! The Singing Bone is a lyrical tale, a deeply captivating novel about innocence and youth, about guilt and manipulation. Not your typical thriller or mystery, that’s for sure. Part coming of age, part psychological story.
The Singing Bone is about of a group of teenagers (Alice, Molly, Trina and Stover) who begin to hang out with the wrong kind of people. Jack Wyck is charismatic and cares about all of them, or so it seems. He loves them. Although nobody belongs to anybody, he keeps saying. It’s 1979 and they all live together in an abandoned house, so you can figure out what happens there. Twenty years later, we know something terrible happened and Alice Pearson changed her name and moved away. Someone died and Mr Wyck is in prison, although he claims he’s completely innocent. On the other hand, we have Hans Loomis, a filmmaker who wants to make a documentary about Wyck. So he and his partner track down Alice in hope of interviewing her.
I warn you: this won’t be for everyone. It was unlike most of the books I usually read, but I’ve found out I like that. It feels great to step out from your comfort zone every now and then and allow yourself to enjoy new types of stories.
In addition, you need to know that it might be hard to connect with the book’s main characters, mainly because they behave strangely and aren’t thinking straight most of the time. I found it weird, though, that Alice was supposed to be the smart one and yet she seemed one of the weakest. My favorite character was Molly’s brother, although I felt bad for Stover and Molly as well. As soon as they start hanging out with Allegra and Mr Wyck, you know that things won’t go well. They were so toxic and dependable.
The prose is beautiful and I realized that this was going to be a special book right from the start. The novel is deep and meaningful and the author’s writing made me feel like I was part of the story. The Singing Bone felt like some kind of dream (or was it a nightmare?): magnetic and disturbing at the same time.
P.S If you’ve read and liked The Girls by Emma Cline, I think you’ll probably enjoy this. In fact, I think The Singing Bone is even better. If you didn’t like that one, you might still enjoy TSB, as there’s more “mystery”.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.