Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. ★★★★
Bone Gap is a YA novel that blurs the lines between straight up fantasy and magical realism and draws on fairy tales.
Bone Gap is a small town in rural America and the home of Finn and Sean O’Sullivan. Their mother left them years ago, and the brothers were alone until the beautiful Roza arrived in their lives. But Roza has disappeared again, and most of Bone Gap believes she left as mysteriously as she came. Finn O’Sullivan knows she didn’t. He knows what he saw, even if no one else believes him. Roza was kidnapped by a dangerous man in a black SUV. Searches turn up nothing, and Finn is unable to describe the man’s face. The town does not believe him, not even his brother Sean.
It would be so easy for Roza to become nothing more than a quest object, but instead this is her story as much as Finn’s, Sean’s or anyone else in the novel. Bone Gap alternates viewpoints, at first mainly between Finn and Roza, but it later adds Sean and Petey’s viewpoint. While most of the town believes Finn must have been in love with the beautiful Roza, it is Petey, the ugly beekeeper, he loves.
Aside from the magical realm the man spirits Roza way too, Bone Gap is set in the real world. Yet the entire novel is embedded with a sense of the magical, leaving you straining to hear the whispering voices of the corn fields.
Roza’s story is an examination of the story of the woman who’s “fairest in the land.” In these stories, the woman becomes a prize to be won, an object to be fought over. No one sees the person, just the beauty. So it goes for Roza, for whom her beauty is more of a curse than a blessing. Roza is placed within the role of the damsel, but it is a role that she fights against.
I think Bone Gap would appeal to people who don’t normally read fantasy novels. In particular, those with a love of mythology might enjoy it. All in all, this is a book that I would confidently recommend to anyone with a love for a deftly woven story.