Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Mythology, feminist fairytale and coming-of-age love story coalesce to form the multifaceted tapestry of Bone Gap. Taking its cue from the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades, Bone Gap’s central mystery pivots on the unexplained arrival and then abrupt disappearance of a beautiful young Polish woman. The novel’s hero, eighteen-year-old Finn, finds Roza huddled in a barn on the property he shares with his older brother, Sean. Thereafter, Roza becomes an integral part of Sean and Finn’s existence, enriching their lives with her compassion and Polish charm.
To the townspeople of Bone Gap, Roza is a beautiful enigma. For the reader, her startling account of personal trauma unfolds. When Roza suddenly vanishes, Finn insists she’s been abducted. In fact, Finn witnessed the event but his reputation as the local ‘spaceman’ along with his bizarre description of the abductor – likening Roza’s captor to a cornstalk blowing in the wind – inspires only disbelief. When he embarks on a mission to find Roza, Finn soon realises he’s just as much a mystery in need of solving.
The novel’s multi-mystery, multi-dimension trajectory follows a tangled trail of subtle clues for maximum reader intrigue. Laura Ruby’s lyrical prose, spirited humour and textured style make Bone Gap a stand-out novel. The coexistence of the fantastical landscape with rural realism allows magical portals and ‘whispering’ cornfields to intermingle with beekeeping facts and depictions of small-town insularity.
By coupling Finn with Petey, Bone Gap’s sharp-witted beekeeper, in a partnership based on reciprocal respect and admiration, the novel also captures the raw and genuine intimacy of first love. Conversely, the Underworld, the scene of Roza’s imprisonment, serves as a distorted looking glass where dangerous aspects of romantic attachment – obsession, possession and objectification – are enacted. While Bone Gap is a cautionary tale about limited perception, it also celebrates the idea that every person is a compelling mystery.
Carrie Croft works as a bookseller at Readings Hawthorn.