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A Short History of Nearly Everything
Bill Bryson

The Bone Key

The Bone Key - Sarah Monette, Lynne M. Thomas

If a cringe could be personified, it would come in the form of Kyle Murchison Booth. He's tall, awkward, pale, and stammering. He's also the absolute last person anyone would expect to become a paranormal investigator, and yet....

 

When his old school-mate and object of worship, Augustus Blaine, walks back into his life, Booth suddenly and uneasily discovers, just under the thin surface veneer of reality, the existence of a shadow world. And the creatures that dwell there discover the existence of Booth.

 

It's an homage to Lovecraft, with ghosts, demons, and some things that are best not named. To sweeten the pot, there's actual character development, a varied supporting cast, and a neurotic museum archivist as a narrator. Other people may bewilder Booth, but he is very self-aware and there is strength in knowing where your weaknesses lie. The strength of The Bone Key is in its engrossing characterization of a very reserved and dutiful man, and the short story format that highlights the fragments of his life that the reader is privy to.

 

My favourite story in this anthology is 'The Wall of Clouds', in which Booth investigates the many strange people and occurrences of the Hotel Chrysalis where he is convalescing, attempting to survive both mind-numbing boredom and what ever ancient other stalks the place.

 

'Asking why the child had chosen to give me its bone was pointless. My foolish and unwilling foray into necromancy had made me attractive to such things, as a magnet is attractive to iron.'

-Booth