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text 2014-02-24 18:29
Sarah Monette short stories, Booth and other
The Bone Key - Sarah Monette,Lynne M. Thomas
Somewhere Beneath Those Waves - Sarah Monette

In 2007 Sarah Monette released The Bone Key, a collection of previously-published  stories featuring the same protagonist, the shy museum archivist Kyle Murchison Booth. After an unwise and reluctant participation in a college chum's attempt to bring his wife back from the dead, Booth finds himself attuned to the supernatural, and it just won't leave him alone.


I really liked Booth and enjoyed these stories. I ordered Somewhere Beneath These Waves because I thought there were further Kyle Murchison Booth stories included. In fact, there is only one, "The World Without Sleep." I see why that wasn't published in The Bone Key, as it is far more fantastical than the other Booth stories.

I was a little disappointed that there weren't more stories with Booth, but other than that I enjoyed the volume and thought most of the stories were good. I few, if one wished to quibble, seemed more thought pieces than stories, and a few were more like seeds of novels yet to be written. I thought the latter was especially true of "Seance at Chisholm End" and the two Mick and Jamie stories (a note from the author indicates that at least one more BPI story is written and others intended). "Amant Doree" stood on its own as a story but the main character could definitely have more spy adventures.

Overall, interesting and well written. I would potentially recommend this for fans of Kelly Link's short stories; I would say that Link is a slightly better prose stylist but Monette a stronger plotter. They definitely share some influences, such as Angela Carter. Monette is certainly influenced by Lovecraft as well and has a story in the volume Lovecraft Unbound.

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review 2013-06-25 05:40
The Bone Key
The Bone Key - Sarah Monette,Lynne M. Thomas

If a cringe could be personified, it would come in the form of Kyle Murchison Booth. He's tall, awkward, pale, and stammering. He's also the absolute last person anyone would expect to become a paranormal investigator, and yet....


When his old school-mate and object of worship, Augustus Blaine, walks back into his life, Booth suddenly and uneasily discovers, just under the thin surface veneer of reality, the existence of a shadow world. And the creatures that dwell there discover the existence of Booth.


It's an homage to Lovecraft, with ghosts, demons, and some things that are best not named. To sweeten the pot, there's actual character development, a varied supporting cast, and a neurotic museum archivist as a narrator. Other people may bewilder Booth, but he is very self-aware and there is strength in knowing where your weaknesses lie. The strength of The Bone Key is in its engrossing characterization of a very reserved and dutiful man, and the short story format that highlights the fragments of his life that the reader is privy to.


My favourite story in this anthology is 'The Wall of Clouds', in which Booth investigates the many strange people and occurrences of the Hotel Chrysalis where he is convalescing, attempting to survive both mind-numbing boredom and what ever ancient other stalks the place.


'Asking why the child had chosen to give me its bone was pointless. My foolish and unwilling foray into necromancy had made me attractive to such things, as a magnet is attractive to iron.'


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review 2012-12-09 00:00
The Bone Key
The Bone Key - Sarah Monette The Bone Key is a surprising book.

Meet Kyle Murchison Booth, who works in a museum where he catalogues items. In the number of short stories in this book, that follow up on each other and show more and more of Mr. Booth’s life, thoughts and past, we encounter all kinds of amazing people, things and… other things. Mr. Booth is perceptive to many things, and he is not the average person. Just leave him in his quarters with his books. But life itself of course won’t allow that.

If you enjoy macabre things found behind double walls, ghosts and oddities, you’ll appreciate The Bone Key.
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review 2012-05-26 00:00
The Bone Key
The Bone Key - Sarah Monette Let me start by pointing out that I'm already a huge fan of Sarah Monette. I love everything I've ever read by her. I suppose that could make me biased towards her works, but I'd actually like to think that it only makes me more harshly demanding. Afterall, if I've rated most of her other works 5 stars this one has A LOT to live up to.

But oh look - ANOTHER 5 Star Rating. She's done it again! damn I love this woman.

Kyle Murchison Booth is a quiet, shy, reserved man; an insomniac with very little social life, and seems to spend most of his time at the museum where her works, cataloguing old books and papers. He does however stand out from the crowd, being that he is well over 6 foot tall and all his hair is mysteriously and prematurely pure white. And then add in a brush with necromantic magic that has in some way attuned him to the darker side of life, so that he's practically a ghost magnet. Well. He's certainly my kind of protagonist.

The Bone Key is a collection of 10 short stories (in which Booth is the first person narrator), most of which were originally published separately in various horror zines and publications. Obviously they can each be standalones, but they're much better collected together in one giant ghoulish smorgasboard. Apparently Monette's chief inspiration for Booth was Lovecraftian horror. I'm afraid I can't comment much on that, as I think I was born a little too late in the century and lovecraft completely passed me by! But honestly, this? This was some bloody good horror.

The best things about The Bone Key are probably also the worst things. Hear me out..
The Good: They're scary as f*ck.
The Bad: They're SCARY as f*ck.
The Good: The individual stories are quite short. You can get through them really quickly.
I'd rather not be stuck in the middle of a horror mystery just at bedtime.. I'd 've never get any sleep!
The Bad: They're short and they're over quick. Yes they're that good.

In conclusion: Sarah Monette + horror = win.

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review 2011-10-04 00:00
The Bone Key - Sarah Monette The Bone Key is actually a series of short stories, all about Kyle Murchison Booth (nobody calls him Kyle) and his encounters with the paranormal. He traces them back to a necromantic rite he foolishly helped a friend perform, which seems to have made him more receptive to strange things.

In her introduction, Sarah Monette says she was inspired by M. R. James and Lovecraft. It shows, mostly in the atmosphere. I was not at all surprised to discover that she had a story published in the anthology Lovecraft Unbound, which is just a little further down my To Read list.

Our hero, Booth, will not be to every reader's taste. He is painfully shy, socially awkward, reserved almost to the point of being a hermit, and very academic. He's also gay, which plays prominently in two of the stories but otherwise simply forms a backdrop to his character. I actually loved Booth, being painfully shy, etc. myself.

The stories could have used a bit more punch, though. My spine tingled in a few places, but overall I was not left checking over my shoulder as I read. The one image that will haunt me is the wrenching ending of Elegy for a Demon Lover. But scared? Not so much. This is a minor issue, because I wasn't exactly expecting to be scared witless, and the stories are good enough that I just didn't care.

There is apparently a (sort of?) sequal which prints four more Booth stories. I'll be trying to get my hands on it, too.
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