Boneyard (Deadlands #3) by Seanan McGuire

deadlandsI think, having read a few of Seanan McGuire’s novels now, I can safely say that she has a wonderful ability to write about the dark, the different and the downright creepy.  So, given that I love the dark and the different loving this book wasn’t really a surprise.  Plus, there’s just something so right about reading a creepy book at this time of the year isn’t there?

The Deadlands series is based on a RPG of the same name that brings together a strange combination of the wild west, steampunk and horror.  I have no idea what the game is like to be totally honest or how the books relate to it but I’ve read the first and now the third book and so can safely say that (1) there’s clearly plenty of material to go on (2) this is the weird, weird West; and (3) these books can all be read as standalones – although the completist in me is crying out to go and pick up No.2 now and I’ll have to do so otherwise it will just nag and worry at me.

The Boneyard brings to us The Circus.  Who can resist the circus really?  It promises delights at the same time as it promises something dark and mysterious, something dangerous maybe, and The Blackstone Family Circus and Travelling Wonder Show is no exception.  It has it’s very own collection of oddities.  A caravan full of the wondrous and unusual, run by the secretive Annie Pearl.  As the story begins we’re given to understand that this year the Circus is down on it’s luck.  It’s almost the end of the season and the coffers that keep everyone going during the leaner months just don’t stack up this year.  There’s nothing else for it – the Circus needs one more visit – the Clearing, an unusual place, set in the forests of Oregon.  The Clearing has it’s own strange stories – people who go to the Clearing don’t always return, but the people there pay well to be entertained and needs must when the devil vomits in your kettle, food doesn’t just put itself on the table after all.

The first part of the story is a little bit slower paced, but I really enjoyed it because McGuire takes the time to establish the main characters.  The primary focus is of course on Annie, she has a past that she’s running away from, the detail of which is steadily revealed, and she makes for fascinating reading.  A wonderful character to be honest, McGuire excels at drawing her characters in such a believable way that you almost feel like you know them personally.  Annie is travelling with her young daughter Adeline.  Adeline cannot speak or make any sounds although she was perfectly capable of doing so as a newborn baby.  Her father seems to be something of a monster (definitely gave me Frankenstein vibes), he had a plan that involved Adeline but Annie stole her away and has been on the run ever since.

I don’t want to go over the top about the characterisation but I have to just say that McGuire is a wonder at writing relationships such as the mother and daughter one displayed here.  It’s probably what makes her books so appealing to me because her characters are flawed, they’re not always capable of doing everything by themselves, they just feel ‘real’, she has a way of expressing emotions and feelings that is absolutely spot on.  Of course, she also delivers some other very appealing traits involving folklore, fairytales, dark forests, monsters, shadows and other things from your worst nightmares.

Two things that I must throw a mention in for are the forest – which is almost like a character in itself.  Surrounding the Clearing with it’s statuesque trees it feels sometimes as though it’s closing in, looming, if you will in an almost claustrophobic fashion.  The shadows seem to have a life of their own, they feel menacing and almost invasive, and all of this makes for an overall impression of being trapped, being watched, being stalked.  The second thing – Annie’s caravan of novelties.  I loved this.  I have a clear picture in my mind’s eye.  Huge poisonous pit wasps, killer spiders whose natural anatomy includes a skull on the back!  Piranha like fish that are always hungry, but, my absolute favourite – this strange corn husk critter with a pumpkin head – this one gave me the serious heebie-jeebies – given the chance it would plant itself into the body of a corpse – so that’s now inside my brain ready and willing to cause nightmares!  This caravan of oddities, seriously, I loved it.  And, the absolute best, not an oddity at all, a lynx cat that has been with Annie for many years.  I loved that lynx.

Basically as the story progresses the ante is upped with two storylines set to crash together in a most dramatic fashion.

So, any criticisms.  Nothing that spoiled the read at all for me.  I guess in some ways the two storylines felt almost a bit superfluous – like The Clearing would have been simply enough by itself, but, I’m thinking that’s probably linked to some element of the game and, seriously, I’m not going to complain about an over abundance of things to entertain me.  The horror side of things –  it’s got some gruesome and scary elements to the story but if you’re seriously into horror then I don’t expect it will scare you.

I really enjoyed this, a very entertaining read that feels perfect as the nights draw in.

I received a copy through Netgalley courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

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12 Responses to “Boneyard (Deadlands #3) by Seanan McGuire”

  1. Barb (boxermommyreads)

    Great review. I need this book in my life and I LOVE that cover. I totally relate to the completist thing because I ordered the first two books because I knew I wanted this one.

  2. Tammy

    I’m posting my review tomorrow, I really enjoyed this, and I’d love to read a review from someone who has played this game. I feel like there is so much world building that isn’t fully explained.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, it would be good to see a review from somebody who has played the game.
      Lynn 😀

  3. sjhigbee

    This one sounds a fabulous addition to a really intriguing series. Thank you for a great review, Lynn:)

    • @lynnsbooks

      And all the books can be read individually – which is a great bonus I think.
      Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        You’re right – that is a real bonus.

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Sweet, I really looking forward to reading this (hopefully) later this month. McGuire seems like she’d do a really good job with tie-ins! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I do so like McGuire – I need to get back to my next Toby book soon. Hope you enjoy this one.
      Lynn 😀

  5. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    I’ve just skimmed your review because I started reading the book today and want to be surprised, but as usual I was drawn deeply into McGuire’s world after the first two pages. I’ll be back here as soon as I finish reading… 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I look forward to reading your thoughts on this one.
      Lynn 😀

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