Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Oh, Tuesday. How I wish you were Friday. But beggars can’t be choosers, so I’m going to make the best out of Tuesday. Bonfire is the perfect recipe for making the best out of a bad day.


Title: Bonfire {288 pgs.}

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: November 7, 2017


It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game,” which will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

I guess I should get this out of the way: Krysten Ritter is an actor. Shocking, I know, especially to those people who don’t own TVs and have never seen any shows whatsoever, because Krysten Ritter seems to be everywhere. As she should be, because she’s a pretty awesome actor {seriously, I hated her for years after Breaking Bad, and that’s meant in the best way possible}. Now, I do tend to roll my eyes whenever actors come out with books, and there’s a good reason for it. They’re usually not very good. Sorry actors-turned-writers. But this pleasantly surprised me.

This story did not go the way I thought it would. Abby comes home to work on a case that takes her against Optimal Plastics, the kind of company that has bought the town of Barrens {what a perfect name} and given it whatever it needs, except for clean water and a safety net for certain young adults. I honestly thought that this would be an Erin Brockovich-esque story, and so I was not prepared for the path that Krysten Ritter took me down.

Abby had been best friends with Kaycee Mitchell, the most popular girl in school before she was the most popular girl in school. Once Kaycee became popular, she dropped Abby, but it’s not as simple as that. They didn’t drift away from each other because of popularity. There’s more to it than that, including a dead dog and pornography selling father. When Kaycee claims to be sick, her friends quickly follow suit, and when they admit that they had been lying for attention, Kaycee is the lone girl who continues coughing up blood. This sickness – real or fake – leads Abby to push against the truth she was handed, and she now pushes against her business partner because she knows that Kaycee Mitchell is an integral part of their case.

Abby’s not wrong, but she’s not entirely right, either.

In between all this, Abby runs headfirst into her past, including characters such as Condor, the bad boy in high school who is just trying to make a life for himself now; Brent, the hot popular boyfriend of Kaycee, the kind of guy that’s so smooth that you don’t know whether he’s sweet or slimy; and Misha, Kaycee’s right-hand woman in high school, the friend who went out of her way to torture Abby. Now Misha is the vice-principal and her whole life is turned around. Or so she wants everyone to believe.

In the center of this whole mystery is “The Game,” a sick, twisted ritual that makes me happy I was never popular. The teenagers of Barrens need something to do, and The Game is what helps them with their boredom, and also helps them believe that they could, maybe, get out of town one day.

Long story short, this is an amazing suspenseful novel. Abby walks through her hometown like she’s in a dream, because it’s always weird to come back to the home you’ve been running away from for years. Although I wanted a different ending {I mean, come onnnnnnn}, I understood why it all had to happen the way it did. Abby is not the same kind of girl that we’ve come to expect from suspense novels. She doesn’t want a happy ending, because she doesn’t expect one. She knows that even if things tie up nicely, they’re never going to stay tied for long. In other words, she’s realistic, and sometimes being realistic means walking away from something that could be really good for you, because what if it ends up that it’s not?

Bonfire comes out today, so consider this one more in a long line of {hopefully} rave reviews. Krysten Ritter really brought the mystery and the drama for her debut novel, and it all twists so well together. Grab this on your way home today or this weekend, and then hunker down, because this is a book that you won’t want to leave on your bedside for long.

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