Title: Road of Bones
Author: Christopher Golden
Release date: January 25th, 2022
First off, huge, huge thanks to Netgalley, Christopher Golden and St. Martin’s Press for approving me with an advanced digital copy to read. When I got the approval email, I grinned like a maniac for a solid five minutes, never once expecting to be approved! So, thank you!
Now, as for ‘Road of Bones.’
I hate to do this, but have you read any of my own releases? Or my reviews? You know, the one’s where I share time and time again that the cold, the desolate mountains and crazy, creepy creatures are my favorite things of all time? If so – you could ignore the rest of my review and just go preorder.
If not – well let me share!
What I liked: ‘Road of Bones’ follows Teig and Prentiss. Two Americans who’ve travelled to the most remote (and cold) place in the world, in Russia, to try and film enough footage to sell a potential show to Discovery. The Road of Bones or more accurately, R504 Kolyma Highway was constructed in 1932 and stretches for over 2,000 km’s through some of the most uninhabitable wilderness in the world.
The coldest I’ve ever experienced is -51 C (-59.8F) and most winters here, we get temperatures that drop to -40C. This will be for days or sometimes weeks on end, but never for prolonged periods of time, such as they have where the Road of Bones lies. The Kolyma Highway received this name, because it is estimated anywhere from 250,000 to 1 million people died while constructing it. Due to the cold, the remote location and the conditions, those who died were buried beneath the road.
It is with that context that Golden begins the story by ramping up the tension and reality that one small mistake, one little error, and you’ll freeze to death in a matter of minutes. If the truck stalls, if you go too fast, hit ice and go off the road, you’ll become a block of ice.
The banter between Teig and Prentiss was great, showing the kinship of two filmmakers who’ve struck out a number of times, but have the shared experiences between them to know what buttons they can push. Golden made both instantly likeable but also both instantly frustrating. You want to see them succeed but also you see why they haven’t.
Once our guide joins the group and a female character comes along, we arrive at Akhurst, the last stop before Yakut, then on to Oymyakon, the coldest settlement on Earth. It’s at Akhurst where Golden really turns the narrative on it’s head. We find abandoned houses, food still on the tables and doors thrown open. Tracks lead into the woods. And it’s what’s in the woods that transforms this from a simple survival story to a creature-feature survival story.
The tension was palpable throughout, Golden pushing the reader to our max.
What I didn’t like: It’s odd, because I LOVED this book, but I almost feel like it would’ve been great to see more of everyday life and how people live in such cold and extreme, but we don’t really get that. We arrive at Akhurst and everything goes Pete Tong and it’s a race to stay alive after that.
Why you should buy this: This was a top notch novel of terror by a writer who knows how to write action but also to create characters that feel like life long friends. The folklore that arrives is stunning and me pausing to Google things as I went. Loved it and it really heightened the frightening reality of the fact that the characters will either die from the cold, or what lurks just beyond the frost. Outstanding.