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Book Review: Jaga's Bones by Simon McHardy

It was a cold and windy November night when I received a letter in my inbox from a female acquaintance saying she had something for me which I might find most agreeable. Intrigued, I opened the attachment to behold the lost bastard love child of Marion Zimmer Bradley and Algernon Blackwood. Apparently, it wasn’t a myth, the book truly did exist. Everyone whispered it had been sent away to live with George RR Martin and be raised in the tradition of the Silent Sisters in the Faith of the Seven. I had no choice but to put my opium binge on hold and read further, mystified as to how such a thing found its way into my hands.

I spent the next several days drinking in my library, dwelling, and at times delighting, over the document. Each time I ran across the word ‘corpse’ I took another shot of Chartreuse.

Where to begin? The language is divinely bleak and hauntingly beautiful. I read several lines repeatedly before accepting that yes, they did indeed say that. “...lost in the stillness and quiet of the stone, the mournful wail of the wind through the corridors and the melancholy of a long empty-room…” is just one example, of which there are many.

And let’s talk about the rape in the room. Sure, the book has rape in it. Get over it. I find people who are most offended by rape have never experienced it, so they fail to understand how it can be used in a fictional context to evolve a character’s mindset(either that of the victim or other character who witnesses it) thus moving the plot forward in an unexpected direction. In this case, the girl is killed afterward, so I’d wager the plot device wasn’t for her, but Jaga. (Oh, I’m sorry, is that a “spoiler”? Dumbest word ever...) But don’t worry “spoiler” the girl doesn’t stay dead long… before she is ultimately killed again… that would be sad if she didn’t long for death. So I found that somewhat upbeat considering...

Also yes, there is violence. It seems like that would be a given considering the cover has a giant god-beast sitting atop a massive pile of corpses. But I didn’t find it much worse than reading an actual history book. Frankly, I am more disturbed reading about the atrocities of the Spanish Inquisition and the Catholic Church than a FICTIONAL story. At least the story had tinges of morgue humor. The Inquisition was just depressing and completely avoidable if people weren’t all lemmings.

If you like to read about fluffy kittens, boy-child wizards, rainbows, and hugging this book isn’t for you. If you need “warnings” don’t bother(how do these people even leave the house?). On the other hand, if you enjoy dead dancing babies and reanimated pigs you’ll probably love it. That is if you can actually find a copy. I don’t know. I heard a rumor that the author has taken a sabbatical to learn about dairy farming. Utter/udder bullshit.

Maybe if everyone just spammed his inbox he’d rerelease it and give people something interesting to read while we’re all stuck in quarantine pondering the fragility of life and begging silently to crawl off this mortal coil forever just so we don’t have to hear about the stupid politics of face masks anymore.

So in conclusion, it’s good. I liked it.

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