Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Bonfire

Should you ever go back?It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly cre...

Title:Bonfire
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Edition Language:English

Bonfire Reviews

  • Adam Silvera

    Yes, Krysten Ritter is the star of Netflix's JESSICA JONES, but this thriller is damn good independent of its celebrity author. It's addicting and gritty and fast-paced. Hope you get obsessed too!

  • Larry H
  • Diane S ☔

    3.5 Back home to Indiana, is the last place Abby wants to go, a place where she was bullied daily. Now an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she is a confident, more centered person. When a case in her old hometown sends her and her team back to investigate a company that seems to have the town in it's pockets, she is sure she can handle it. But can she?

    Two different ratings for each half of the book. Very encouraging start, well written, seemed to have more substance than some other books in this

    3.5 Back home to Indiana, is the last place Abby wants to go, a place where she was bullied daily. Now an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she is a confident, more centered person. When a case in her old hometown sends her and her team back to investigate a company that seems to have the town in it's pockets, she is sure she can handle it. But can she?

    Two different ratings for each half of the book. Very encouraging start, well written, seemed to have more substance than some other books in this genre. Nice mix of personal remembrances, traumas, with some interesting legwork on the investigation. Of course, all her ghosts come back to haunt her, unfinished business, old acquaintances who were not friends but now seem to want to be, and a mystery, a girl who had supposedly left town, a girl who had once been her friend. This part of the story garnered a four.

    Then the second part of the story, was disappointed, not in the resolution of the plot, but in the way the main character her acted. Descended into a bad melodrama so different from the controlled writing and personality exhibited in the first half. Found it jarring and not totally believable, too, too much happened, thought it was unrealistic. So the second half I would rate a three. Hence my 3.5 rating.

    So for me this was an unbalanced read. Was interesting, good, a little different but could have been better without the exploding second half. IMO

    ARC from Netgalley.

  • Maxwell

    This was a really strong debut and one of the better mystery/thrillers I've read in a while. Of course it had it's issues, though they were small and mostly due to editing in my opinion (the infamous "I released a breath I didn't realize I was holding" was used 3 times in the first half of the book...). Otherwise I found the characters to be strong, especially Abby our MC who is returning home to confront her past and a possibly corrupt corporation who is funding much of the small town she's fro

    This was a really strong debut and one of the better mystery/thrillers I've read in a while. Of course it had it's issues, though they were small and mostly due to editing in my opinion (the infamous "I released a breath I didn't realize I was holding" was used 3 times in the first half of the book...). Otherwise I found the characters to be strong, especially Abby our MC who is returning home to confront her past and a possibly corrupt corporation who is funding much of the small town she's from. The blending of past and present was seamless and really added a depth to the story that gave her justification for her actions and explanation for everything going on. It didn't feel forced or convenient like a lot of thrillers do. I'll be looking forward to what Ritter writes next! This one's definitely worth checking out.

  • Paromjit

    This is an atmosphere drenched and compelling crime debut from Krysten Ritter set in Barrens, a small town in Indiana. As children, Abby Williams and Kaycee Mitchell were best friends, only for Kaycee to turn on Abby with her coterie of friends at school. Hating her father and her miserable life, Abby is the one that got away. She lives in Chicago and is a environmental lawyer, returning to Barrens after a decade away, to investigate Optimal Plastics, a corporation that singlehandedly saved Barr

    This is an atmosphere drenched and compelling crime debut from Krysten Ritter set in Barrens, a small town in Indiana. As children, Abby Williams and Kaycee Mitchell were best friends, only for Kaycee to turn on Abby with her coterie of friends at school. Hating her father and her miserable life, Abby is the one that got away. She lives in Chicago and is a environmental lawyer, returning to Barrens after a decade away, to investigate Optimal Plastics, a corporation that singlehandedly saved Barrens from economic and social devastation. It funds a number of social enterprises, provides scholarships and employment, and is at the heart of the community, with the majority of the town fiercely loyal to the company. Optimal is, however, dogged by rumours of corruption, contaminating the water supply and more. Abby may have moved away from Barrens, but Barrens and its secrets have never left her. This time she wants answers to the past, only to find that the past looms large in the present.

    Abby arrives in Barren with a group that includes her best friend, Joe, a black gay lawyer, setting up office on the Gallagher farm. They find a community hostile to their presence and the threat they represent. Two complainants drop their claims, but they continue to probe. Abby finds herself confronted by ghosts from the past, from the meanest girl, Mischa, who is now Vice Principal at Barren High School to her father who is a shadow of his former self. Haunted by Kaycee, a talented painter, telling her that problem is not that she cannot draw but that she does not see, Abby is convinced there is a connection with Kaycee and their current investigation into Optimal. Kaycee was popular, a born liar, poisoned Abby's dog, involved in the deplorable Game and blackmail, and apparently pretended to be sick with her friends to scam payments from Optimal and left Barrens soon after. However, Abby had seen Kaycee coughing up blood and displaying other worrying symptoms, and knows Kaycee was sick. Abby strikes up a relationship with Condor and Brent, and finds her drinking is spiralling out of control, all too aware that she is drawn to things that hurt the most. As all those close to her abandon her, questioning her conviction that the past and Kaycee is relevant and connected to Optimal, Abby finds her sanity is on the line as the past threatens to bury her.

    Krysten Ritter has written a gripping and beautifully written crime debut. It is tense and suspenseful, drawing in the reader with ease. The greatest strengths of the book lie in the complex character creation and development of Abby, a woman who wants to come to terms with the past so that she can be alive in the present. Ritter presents a picture of a woman paying a heavy price as she gets closer to the truth, no-one believes her, yet despite her life disintegrating around her, she clings on with a tenuous grip with determination. She wants to do right by her childhood friend, Kaycee, even though Kaycee is a less than admirable character. The portrayal of Barren and its community is done remarkably well. I loved this brilliant book and whilst it does have its flaws, I recommend it highly. Many thanks to Random House Cornerstone for an ARC.

  • Meredith

    After 10 years of living in anonymity in Chicago, environmental lawyer Abby Williams returns to her tiny hometown Barrens, Indiana to investigate Optimal Plastics, a corporation that not only fuels the town’s economy, but also saturates Barrens with its philanthropic efforts. Residents of Barrens are getting sick, and Abby believes their illnesses are a result of water contamination caused by Optimal.

    After 10 years of living in anonymity in Chicago, environmental lawyer Abby Williams returns to her tiny hometown Barrens, Indiana to investigate Optimal Plastics, a corporation that not only fuels the town’s economy, but also saturates Barrens with its philanthropic efforts. Residents of Barrens are getting sick, and Abby believes their illnesses are a result of water contamination caused by Optimal. Abby, who was tormented and bullied throughout high school is desperate to uncover the dirt on Optimal, as she believes the corporation is not only harming the residents of Barrens, but also led to the illness of childhood best friend and high school frenemy, Kaycee Mitchell.

    Flashback 10 years ago: Kaycee Mitchell was the “It” girl at Barrens High School. She and her group of minions created “The Game,” which worked to torment and bully their peers. Kaycee and her minions made Abby’s life a living hell. When Kaycee begins getting sick, her illness "spreads" to her group of friends. Once Kaycee's friends admit their illness was a hoax, she goes missing never to be seen agian.

    Upon her return to Barrens, Abby must confront her teenage enemies, her high school crush, and her abusive father. Fueled by her obsession with Optimal and Kaycee, her behavior spirals out of control putting her in imminent danger.

    is a compulsive read that hooked me from the start. I loved the dark, snarky tone and felt like Ritter did a stellar job of fleshing out the town of Barrens. Abby is a strong, yet unreliable narrator. In the back of my head, I kept picturing her as Jessica Jones without superpowers! The mystery surrounding Kaycee drew me in. My only complaint is that the last ¾ unravels and becomes a bit convoluted.

    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  • Emily May

    Going into this book, I had no idea who Krysten Ritter was. It was only when I went to the Goodreads page just now that I realized she's an actress. So I had approached this as I would any hyped thriller with an enticingly fiery cover. Unfortunately, though, I found

    to have a

    that lacked a certain juicy nastiness I like in my thrillers.

    And isn't this a story we've seen a thousand times?

    Maybe it's just me, but I feel like I've read countless versions of a woman escaping her

    Going into this book, I had no idea who Krysten Ritter was. It was only when I went to the Goodreads page just now that I realized she's an actress. So I had approached this as I would any hyped thriller with an enticingly fiery cover. Unfortunately, though, I found

    to have a

    that lacked a certain juicy nastiness I like in my thrillers.

    And isn't this a story we've seen a thousand times?

    Maybe it's just me, but I feel like I've read countless versions of a woman escaping her smalltown life, only to grow up and become a detective or lawyer or whatever and return to solve a mystery and face all the people and unresolved issues of her past. I even think I've read a bunch of romance variations on this plot, too. It reminds me a little of

    , but Ritter is no Gillian Flynn.

    I felt like Ritter was trying to capture the "evil teen girls" vibe that so many authors want to tap into. The protagonist - Abby Williams - has a lot of personal demons and they're mostly related to the bullying she endured during her schooldays. Though I think this intense world of teenage girldom has been explored much better by other authors, from Megan Abbott to Abigail Haas.

    sees Abby, now an environmental lawyer, returning to her hometown and hoping to uncover the truth about Optimal, a plastics corporation. Abby believes Optimal has been polluting the town's water supply and caused a string of unexplained illnesses among her classmates years ago. One of whom disappeared. The classmates in question claimed it was a harmless prank, but Abby's convinced otherwise.

    I completely appreciate the importance of environmental pollution issues but I've got to say-- it's a bit of a hard sell as a compelling thriller. I only recall

    doing it successfully. There was just never a moment when the book took hold of me and made me desperate to know the answers.

    . I couldn't understand why Abby was so adamant that the pollution took place when even those who got sick claimed it wasn't true. It's not a spoiler to state the obvious - there

    something more going on, but I don't know why Abby would think that. And

    relies heavily on Abby conveniently remembering, forgetting, or deducing (quite incredibly) as needed. Abby makes many tenuous connections between some clue - that fell into her lap - and the truth, whilst jumping to conclusions that I doubt anyone would have made.

    Also thought it was strange how Abby quickly developed TWO romantic relationships with the men of Barrens, but it didn't have any impact on the story whatsoever.

    There is a moment at the climax of the novel which is easily the most thrilling of the whole book, and it was my favourite part, but

    . They were so obviously shady that I had almost convinced myself they were a glaring red herring.

    The climax leads into an extremely rushed ending-- we discover the villain, witness a face-off, and wrap it all up in the last fifteen pages of the book. Messy and disappointing.

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  • Simon

    What a brilliant thriller. I devoured this in two sittings. I was slightly dubious/cynical about a celebrity writing a book, well shame on me as this had me hooked. It’s a mix of Erin Brockovich, meets Mean Girls meets dark twisty mystery which enthralled me throughout as lawyer Abigail goes back to home after a decade to take on a huge corporation possibly poisoning her hometown where some demons from the past lie in wait too. Utterly gripping.

  • Katie

    Such a fun debut novel! This premise of "the girl returning to her disturbing home town" has been done before, but I still found this incredibly unique. Review is up on my channel! Video review:

  • Joce (squibblesreads)

    3.75 stars: I was pleasantly surprised by this! Thrillers can too often present overused tropes and plot turns based on convenience, not to mention sensationalizing mental illness and misogyny but thankfully there was none of that here (of course, there should be no bonus/gratuitous lauding or applauding things for not being misogynistic) . I enjoyed the focus on environment and law while also exploring the complicated relationships one can have in high school and toxic masculinity. I wasn’t 100

    3.75 stars: I was pleasantly surprised by this! Thrillers can too often present overused tropes and plot turns based on convenience, not to mention sensationalizing mental illness and misogyny but thankfully there was none of that here (of course, there should be no bonus/gratuitous lauding or applauding things for not being misogynistic) . I enjoyed the focus on environment and law while also exploring the complicated relationships one can have in high school and toxic masculinity. I wasn’t 100% sold on the presentation of the concepts and characters all of the time but I thought it was strong and otherwise unharmful.

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