As many of you should know, Carrie Rubin is the author of three novels: The Seneca Scourge, Eating Bull, and (most recently) The Bone Curse. I’ve already reviewed Eating Bull here. I don’t always read in order, that is, in the sequence in which an author’s novels are published. I read The Bone Curse before I read The Seneca Scourge. I also posted my review of The Seneca Scourge on Amazon whereas I’m just now getting around to writing a review of The Bone Curse. Check out my review of The Seneca Scourge here (and then pick up a copy while you’re there).
I wonder why my book reviewing is so idiosyncratic. Surely, I’m not a procrastinator. I don’t have a passive-aggressive relationship with writing book reviews. I don’t dawdle …
Well, maybe I do dawdle when it’s time to write a book review. If I do, it’s because I want to be sure I can do justice to what I’ve just read. If I’ve really enjoyed the novel, the characters and the story will stay with me, get under my skin, make me itch. The itching won’t relent until I’ve completed my part of the bargain.
The Bone Curse is the first in a series featuring med student Ben Oris, a guy so pragmatic that he almost loses everyone he loves because he doesn’t want to face the truth: not everything in this world can be explained by science. He’s not alone in his skepticism. I was skeptical too. While I enjoy thrillers, especially medical thrillers, it takes a deft hand to weave the supernatural into a thriller. Take it from me: Carrie Rubin has two deft hands.
The story begins with Ben getting cut by an ancient bone while visiting the Paris catacombs with his best friend (and unacknowledged soulmate) Laurette. The cut doesn’t heal, a nagging annoyance to Ben. What initially starts off as inconvenience quickly turns into horror as people Ben cares about start getting sick … and dying … from a grisly illness that no one can diagnose or cure. Before too long Ben realizes that it is contact with him, specifically blood from his perpetually bleeding wound, that precipitates the plague on his friends and loved ones. Laurette divines what is going on, that Ben was cursed by the bone in the catacombs, but to save her friend, she must convince him. She must convince Ben that he is cursed and that the only remedy is through Vodou. Laurette convinced this reader long before she convinced Ben … except I’m not sure that she convinced him entirely.
The Bone Curse is fast-paced, a true thriller in that it keeps you on the edge of your seat. You don’t want to put the book down. You want to know what is going to happen next and yet you dread that knowledge. You ask yourself, How many more people will be infected before Ben gets his head out of his pragmatic ass and do what Laurette tells him to do!? Or something along those lines.
This is what I mean about characters getting under my skin. I’m still kind of pissed at Ben for insisting on applying logic and science to events that were not even remotely logical or scientific. I think of how many doctors I’ve known who are just like Ben, and I understand the other aspects of this novel that resonated with me: the grueling pace of medical residency, the near-murderous competition among medical residents and interns, the godlike decision-making of the attendings. The Bone Curse is grounded in the world of science and medicine, a world where one expects to find answers, but in this novel, the answers are not what one expects to find.
That is why I look forward to the next installment in this series. I like Ben Oris. I like his dad, even his mom. I like his complicated relationship with his attending. I like Laurette a lot, more than Ben to be honest.
I really hope Carrie intends to publish another Benjamin Oris novel soon (no pressure, Carrie). I want to see Ben’s pragmatic bubble poked, prodded, and hopefully popped although I’m sure he’ll pull out a spool of skeptic’s thread and stitch up those holes before you can say “Vodou.”
Carrie has a lovely website where you can find more information about her and her books: https://carrierubin.com/
Of course, if you want to cut to the chase and purchase her books, here you go: https://www.amazon.com/Carrie-Rubin/e/B009BPJEG6/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1535148616&sr=8-2-ent
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