Winter's Bone

Winter's Bone - Daniel Woodrell

Posted at Shelf Inflicted 

This short novel has many things I enjoy in dark fiction – quirky, dysfunctional characters, a determined heroine struggling to survive and keep her family together, a bleak setting, a sense of hopelessness, people who pay the price for their bad choices. This is a quiet story that crept up on me slowly and haunted me for days afterward. 

Actually, it terrified me and made me glad I grew up in New York City. Sure, there were shootings, muggings, carjackings, and stabbings. You just had to watch your back constantly and try to stay out of the dangerous neighborhoods. Once I was home and the six deadbolts locked, I felt safe. 

16-year-old Ree Dolly has no sense of safety. Her mother is mentally ill and unable to care for her children, her dad has disappeared, her relatives are downright scary, and meth is a major source of the family’s income. 

I have never been to the Ozarks and have no idea how accurately this story portrays the region and its inhabitants, though I’m sure these characters really exist somewhere. 

What keeps me from giving a five-star rating, is the prose. At times, it felt overwritten, taking me out of the story. I also felt it was too brief, making the characters and relationships too remote. In the end, I wanted more than an empty, hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach.