Cover Image: Road of Bones

Road of Bones

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Rating: 2.5 stars

Road of Bones is a supernatural thriller set in Siberia, where a film crew is covering an elusive ghost story about the Kolyma Highway, a road built on top of the bones of prisoners who were forced to build it. When they first arrive in the frozen terrain Teig and Prentiss have high hopes of telling the story of this isolated community and their ghost stories will be their big break. Shortly into the excursion, they arrive at a village that is mysteriously abandoned apart from a little girl. To get to this point, we have a very slow and repetitive setup, approximately 20% of the book. At this point, shit hits the fan and the fan doesn’t stop spinning until the end. Unfortunately, I felt the characters were a little flat and the setting was underdeveloped. Which made it difficult to care who lived or died as well as paint a picture of what was happening in my head. The root of the sinister events is a malignant shaman and the forest spirits he commands. Although this provided for some scary folk horror, I was a little confused as to why it didn’t focus on the spirits of the dead bodies buried below the permafrost on The Road of Bones. This is the name of the book, it’s discussed extensively in the beginning pages, but then it’s left by the wayside – I found this a little disappointing. Nonetheless, I felt the concept made for a fun horror story, but not necessarily my cup of tea.

Thank you St. Martin's Press for the gifted eARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

What if I presented to you a book set in Salem, Massachusetts and talked all about its rich history as one of the most tragic towns in New England's early history? What would you expect to see in this book? Giants? Talking mice? How about Cthulhu?

Well, when you tell me I'm going to read a book about the Road of Bones in Siberia--a highway that was literally paved over the dead gulag prisoners who fell while constructing it under Stalin's regime--I better damn well have a ghost-revenge story set in the coldest drive on Earth. Not whatever this was.

So Felix Teigen and his buddy Jack Prentiss are setting out to make a documentary about life and death on the Kolyma Highway, affectionately nicknamed the Road of Bones. To elaborate on the name, from 1932 to 1953 gulag prisoners in labor camps were forced to construct the highway. Since the road is set on permafrost, whenever one of the roughly 250,000 to 1,000,000 people who perished building this road died, the bones were built into or around the highway, cuz diggin' holes in Siberian winter is a bitch. Why was this road constructed in such unforgiving conditions, you might ask? Well, money! Duh! Rich uranium deposits!

Teig and Prentiss are here to document life and death on the road, they say, but also Teig is looking for ghost stories, I guess? They never specify exactly why they're there and don't talk about a shooting schedule, a script, a rough outline of their expectations, nothing. Essentially what we have is two grown men running around with an expensive camera saying, "BRO, ARE YOU FILMING THIS?!" And it gets real tedious.

The concept of this novel is fantastic. Documentarians show up someplace that people don't normally spare a thought for, the supernatural nature of the region/road pops up, and crap goes down hardcore. It's the execution that leaves a lot to be desired.

The characters are cardboard cutouts. Teig's motivation for trying to save Una reads as halfhearted and thrown-in. Nari, the girl Teig and Prentiss save from being stranded on the road, is the most complex character, but because of the stuffy main characters she doesn't get enough time to shine. Prentiss is even more interesting than Teig. By the end of the novel I hated Felix Teigen and was firmly convinced he's the kind of guy who thinks ketchup is spicy and actually believes that plastic straws are the reason climate change is intensifying.

Felix Teigen would have a man-bun and call it "cool" because he visited Japan once. He's the kind of guy who won't eat sushi because it kills fish, then buy all of his designer skinny jeans on Amazon. He only knows "Wonderwall" on ukulele and calls himself a self-made musician. He would unironically use pickup lines like, "Are you my appendix? Cuz I have this painful urge to take you out." He probably has "Entrepreneur" in his Twitter bio.

Felix Teigen is That Guy. And he is the worst.

The thing that kills me about this book is that a random character who ends up adding absolutely jack diddly squat to the story takes up such a huge chunk of it. Ludmilla was useless and I cannot be persuaded otherwise.

The author takes so much time to describe the cold that he forgets to insert the unique cultural narratives to be found in this region. We get zero taste of Siberian culture until the last 20% of the novel, when some folklore is randomly thrown in for some reason and even then some of it isn't correct.

Ugh, guys. Wrong focal points, flat characters, setting that's too vague to be one place...this one was a solid miss.

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3.5 stars

If you are not already cold, Road of Bones is sure to make you shiver. Taking place amidst a Siberian winter, Road of Bones takes readers on a journey across the frozen Kolyma Highway, built upon the bones of Soviet prisoners who died building the road. This locale provides a perfect setting with the reality that one small mistake or misfortune, like a flat tire, and you will freeze to death in a matter of minutes.

While I definitely learned a bit about Siberian folklore while reading Road of Bones, I thought I would learn a bit more about everyday life in Siberia and the history of the Kolyma Highway. That was a bit of a disappointment; however, I understand that educating was not the intention of the book. Instead, Golden dives into the terror and thrillers relatively quickly.

I loved the fast-paced narrative of Road of Bones. I am generally not big into the supernatural, but Golden manages to make the story compelling and at a pace that held my interest. Once the storyline’s tension is built up, it is held tight until nearly the end. This makes Road of Bones a compelling, edge-of-your-seat read. I do think some of the tension and pace comes at the expense of character development, of which I could have used more.

I was super excited to read about the setting in Road of Bones. I have never read a book about or in Siberia and knew little about the Kolyma Highway. However, I found that Golden really only focused on how cold it was. To get an idea of the setting and landscape, I had to Google pictures. Road of Bones could have easily been more atmospheric. But the narrative lacked descriptive elements (even of how cold it felt) to make the setting and events come to life. That was really my biggest issue with this book. You can tell me it is -50 degrees Celsius, but I have never felt that so I need to be told what it is like.

Overall, I enjoyed Road of Bones and would recommend it to those who love a supernatural thriller or horror story.

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The Siberian wilderness is rendered vividly as the setting for Road of Bones. Christopher Golden manages to emphasize the most effective details for the environment and its inhabitants to transport the reader to a foreign landscape reminiscent of an episode of Ice Road Truckers set in the underworld. Elements of dark fantasy characterize this supernatural horror tale set against the haunting historical backdrop of the Stalin-era Kolyma Highway, constructed in the former Soviet Union by slave laborers, many of whom were buried in the road itself when they were worked to death in extreme conditions.

The pacing of Road of Bones is intense enough to make it genuinely hard to put down, and I burned through this thoroughly enjoyable book in just two days. As more of the mythology behind the supernatural elements is revealed, however, some of the less developed areas of the book stand out with greater contrast and the scope of the myth seems to get away from the author. The relationship between the two main characters, for example, is somewhat superficial upon closer inspection, which is hard not to engage in as things get more fantastic. For me, making the philosophical message of the story more explicit at the end reveals what a poor job the novel did establishing the theme in advance and in creating effective emotional resonance. Overall, Road of Bones is a solid supernatural thriller that checks almost all the boxes.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the ARC.

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From the very first page, the reader is greeted with a bone-chilling cold that doesn’t let up for the entirety of the novel. The Road of Bones is the Kolyma Highway found in Russia where some of the coldest parts of the world outside of Antarctica exist. The road got its ominous name because prisoners forced to build the road under Stalin died during the construction, where an estimated 250,000-1,000,000 people lost their lives and were buried right into the road’s permafrost. If that doesn’t already make for a chilling horror, this novel also finds itself grappling with supernatural entities and the ghosts that haunt us even when they’re merely just a manifestation of our guilt.

The protagonist is Teig, a reality-show star that creates shows much like Ghost Adventures with his best friend Prentiss. The only issue is that his past few projects have bombed and he owes a lot of people money, including his best friend. Then he gets an idea, why not make a show about the Road of Bones? A place haunted by the past as well as the unflinching cold, where car trouble could have one dying within a matter of minutes from the extremely low temperatures.

I’m a total wimp when it comes to cold temperatures, so to have a supernatural thriller set in the cold, already has me both terrified and fascinated.

The mystery amps up when Teig, Prentiss, their Russian translator, and a hitchhiker they picked up on the way, finally arrive at their destination only to find every single home in that town empty. It looks as though the residents left their homes mid-dinner and disappeared. This is when things start getting weird and dangerous for the group.

This novel is very fast-paced and it mostly takes place in one night much like those survival horror movies do. This was a fun, freaky read and I really loved how well fleshed out the characters were. I recommend this novel for anyone who loves supernatural thrillers set in Siberia.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Something about this writing style did not work for me. The setting and the mystery really intrigued me, but something kept me out of the story. I did really love the characters and the unsettling elements. I think people who enjoy the style and structure will really enjoy this.

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I've read and enjoyed several of Golden's earlier novels, so I always keep my eye out for anything new from him. His latest, a standalone, set along the titular Road of Bones, the nickname given to the Kolyma Highway in Siberia, makes for a good wintry read. Teig is a down-on-his-luck producer who thinks the Siberian Highway will be perfect for his comeback show that will make him enough money to pay off his debts. Prentiss, both debtor and friend, accompanies him and acts a cameraman for this scouting mission. With their local guide, the trio leads up the highway towards the coldest settlement on earth. But there's more than just the natural dangers presented by the bitterly cold temperatures and the isolation of the small communities that dot the highway that make this a tense read, It becomes all the more frightening when one of the towns they stop in seems to be hurriedly abandoned. Soon the scouting trip turns into them fleeing for their very lives.

The perspective switches a few times, sometimes rather abruptly, which pulls the reader out of the flow at times. And while I enjoyed the setting, the characters aren't deeply developed - nor are the otherworldly elements of the plot given as much detail as I hoped for. At times, this feels rather dreamlike and so it can be hard to always share in the fear of the characters. While there's gore and violence, I never found this one to be quite as chilling of a read as I hoped for. I just wanted a bit more to be explained as to what drove all of this bloodshed.

This is not my favorite of Golden's books. I prefer his ongoing series featuring Ben Walker. Though I would say that this has an equal blend of action, horror and violence. The timeline here moves the whole book's action in under 24 hours, but I just never found myself terribly eager to find out what would happen next. It is entertaining overall with an interesting idea - but I never felt that connected to the characters. I did appreciate the little JAWS reference though!

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Fast moving folk horror with a great sense of place and atmosphere - I generally liked it quite a bit but felt it a little disjointed in parts (what's the point of the Ludmilla character in such a fast streamlined chase book?) and under-explained.

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Documentarian Teig and his cameraman partner, Prentiss, are scouting for a new paranormal series. Teig’s idea is to see if the “haunted” Siberian Kolyma Highway, nicknamed the Road of Bones, can be used as a basis of a new series. The road was made by prisoners of cold war era Soviet gulags. Any prisoners who died were just ground into the road where they died. Are their ghosts still haunting the road?

Teig’s goal is to reach the coldest village in the world, Akhust. What they find there is more chilling than the weather. The entire village is abandoned except for one young girl, Una. And something is coming out of the forest…

This book takes a while to get up to a thriller’s pace. But once it does, the plot moves along at a furious pace. The horror part of the plot was new to me—none of the usual vampires or zombies. I believe that Road of Bones works better as horror than a paranormal thriller. If you like horror, you should check it out. 4 stars!

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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If you like paranormal thrillers set in a remote location, this will be the book for you. I was intrigued from the beginning of getting to know the MC's Tieg and Prentiss. Being a big fan of paranormal investigator shows and the like, I was excited to learn that that was the background these men had. And their goal in being in this remote part of the world was to create the next best show. So, I was a fan of the characters right away. The excitement in the plot really started right from page one. I could really feel what they were feeling being in this super cold, remote area in Siberia.

That's the next thing...it is cold. At first, I found the descriptions of the cold endearing and helpful. I can barely imagine, but I felt like this was the best I'd ever be able to get close to imagining. However, as the book goes on there is no way that you can forget it's cold. It's mentioned so regularly by every single character, multiple times. It went past proving the point to being a bit grating. However, this was only mildly annoying. I would quickly lose the annoyance of it when gripped with the issues that these characters end up facing. And those problems surmount as the book goes on.

Overall, I find this book to be exciting and unique. I enjoyed the writing style. There were times it did drag and felt repetitive, but overall a good book. The one thing that I think would have made this book so much better for me is if we got a bit more information on a big character/plot point. However, I don't feel like it was very necessary to elaborate on it for the story to be a good one.

Thank you Netgalley and St. Martins Press for this ARC for a fair and honest review.

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suspense, suspicion, winter, horror, hopelessness, Siberia, supernatural, superstitions, survival, survivors, paranormal, friendship, family, thriller, abandoned, folklore, cultural-exploration, cultural-heritage, culture-of-fear****

While he does a really good job of immersing the reader in a winter where the cold is dire (worse than Hibbing, MN), but the horror is not as bad as life in a war zone. Still, it was an interesting read for a blizzardly afternoon. The publisher's blurb is a good hook, and I was reeled in.
I requested and received a free e-book copy from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley.

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Thank you so much to the publisher and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Road of Bones is a bone chilling (literally) tale that follows a small film crew looking to scout out locations and stories for their upcoming supernatural(ish) tv series. When the forces of nature herself seem to be fighting back, who will make it out alive, and who will find thoughts of their future frozen?

This story was absolutely bone chilling. I found myself in need of a bath pronto-tonto after reading a few chapters, multiple times. The cold and dark play into this novel just as much as the entities, creating a "can't escape" feeling that would make anyone feel claustrophobic. The characters themselves are developed and their personal pasts play into the decisions they make(as in any good horror novel). The ghosts on the Road of Bones have been imported by our crew as well as buried beneath the ice.

Four stars as I enjoyed it immensely and recommend it for anyone who loves environmental horrors as well as those who love supernatural horror. I look forward to reading more of Golden's books to see all he has to offer as an author.

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As someone who has a hit or miss relationship with folk horror, I am pleased to report that I really enjoyed ROAD OF BONES. Golden has taken the perfect setting, the Kolyma Highway in Siberia, built upon the bodies of dead gulag prisoners who were the workers on the highway, and adds in folklore scares for good measure. I was anticipating a more 'tranditional' ghost story, as the history of the area is ripe with potential for angry ghosts, but instead we get something else involving forest spirits, missing villagers, and the biting cold always threatening our protagonists as they try to escape a very scary entity. From disturbing imagery to a slow burn build up of horror to some REALLY gnarly body horror, this book is very good at getting under the reader's skin. It's the perfect read for a cold winter's night, and lord knows here in Minnesota we've had plenty of those lately.

ROAD OF BONES freaked me out pretty handily. I'm definitely going to dive back into Christopher Golden's other works, because if they are as good as this I've really been missing out.

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Siberian folk horror from a master of the genre. Golden offers a bleak tale of frozen apocalypse, spiritual possession, and vengeful nature that is at times nail-bitingly claustrophobic. The titular road is the Kolyma Highway, a frigid 1200-mile path through some of the world's most treacherous terrain, and a place American filmmaker Felix Teigland believes to be a documentary cash-cow. Buried along it are thousands of victims of Stalin's brutal regime, whose restless ghosts haunt the scattered residents of the bleak landscape. No less terrifying are the preturnaturally swift and deadly wolves that pursue Teigland and his partner Prentiss across the wastes. And something worse still accompanies them....

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I was expecting a quicker pace from this book considering the length, but it was 20% before anything remotely interesting or tense finally happened.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press for contacting me with a copy of this title, but unfortunately it wasn’t for me. I was expecting something totally different based on the title and description. I wish it had focused on the Road of Bones more instead of being a creature feature.

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This book is creepy as hell. You are transported to a world where you can feel the chill in your bones. The author has done such a fantastic job of keeping the desolate, insidious, creepy atmosphere and the cold as a such an important part that it feels like a character throughout the book.

This book will chill you, it will freak you, it will make you race to the know what happens because that's how good it is. It engages you from the first chapter and doesn't let up till the end. I didn't even realise I was holding my breath more often than not, heart pounding, wanting to know how the story would end.

Every character is so well defined that you feel for them, you understand their behaviour and thoughts. The pace and the plot are really good. What a wild ride!

I really don't want to say more but suffice it to say you need to read this heatrpounding book. It will wow you and keep you engaged till the end.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for sending a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Rating: 4/5

I was given this book to review by Netgalley for my honest review

Wow this book took me on an emotional roller coaster, one moment I would feel the suspense, Then the next minute it would be fear, other moments to just pure wonderment; What was going on and what was the real cause of all this going on?

This book didn’t win my heart right away but about 25% into it is when I was just really intrigued and found myself having a hard time putting the book down, there were so many twists and turns to the story, and anyone that loves fantasy books, knows that those are the best ones to read. The world building by Golden was done in a way that I felt the suspense deep in my bones when reading, and the main characters of the book really helped with this. I could understand their fears and really understand what they were feeling.

Teig, I felt for him, I love all supernatural things and I have always wanted more proof it was real or not. I found myself at times really being able to connect with his personality, the warring emotions he had about himself and how he really needed to protect everyone he could. I really liked his best friend/father figure Prentiss, I could feel their genuine brotherly love and respect for each other. It wasn’t until about 65% into it when I felt myself losing interest but that was due to the repetitive points that Teig kept going at. The ending of the book had me saying, wow that was written very well. I loved having the POV of grandmother instead of MCs, it really helped wrap the whole story up.
Now, do not let this review stop you from picking it up though, especially if you were a first-time reader of suspense, thriller and you want to dip your toes into this genre, you will not be disappointed with it.

I want to thank NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book, I also want to thank St. Martin's Press for the approval of this book and Christopher Golden for writing this wonderful book.

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Yikes! This book was creepy! I really liked how the weather impacted the story. It felt isolated and impossible to survive in. It was a pretty fast-paced story, and I really found myself enjoying the characters and the plot!

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Road of Bones is an extremely fast read and had me flying through the pages! Reading books in cold isolated settings with only a few characters is still the most exciting concept and can never get old. And while I love a lot of the segments of the Road of Bones (especially at the beginning of the novel) I do think it gets a little bit caught up in the ending and finding a resolution to the story. But overall I'm a fan of the setting and the effectively terrifying monsters.

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A filmmaker and his friend travel to the Road of Bones hoping to uncover a great story and save their crashing careers. What they find though is unlike anything they expected.

This book had some truly terrifying moments. The descriptions of the setting will chill you to the bone as much as the forest spirits that set upon a remote village hunting for one young girl.

Atmospheric, creepy, and full of jump scares, horror fans and fans of suspense will love this one.

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