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The Singing Bone
     

The Singing Bone

4.8 4
by Beth Hahn
 

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A convicted killer’s imminent parole forces a woman to confront the nightmarish past she’s spent twenty years escaping.

I found you. That’s what Mr. Wyck told her: I found you.

1979: Seventeen-year-old Alice Pearson can’t wait to graduate from high school so she can escape the small town in upstate New

Overview

A convicted killer’s imminent parole forces a woman to confront the nightmarish past she’s spent twenty years escaping.

I found you. That’s what Mr. Wyck told her: I found you.

1979: Seventeen-year-old Alice Pearson can’t wait to graduate from high school so she can escape the small town in upstate New York where she grew up. In the meantime, she and her friends avoid their dysfunctional families while getting high in the woods. There they meet the enigmatic Jack Wyck, who lives in the rambling old farmhouse across the reservoir. Enticed by his quasi-mystical philosophy and the promise of a constant party, Alice and her friends join Mr. Wyck’s small group of devoted followers. But their heady, freewheeling idyll takes an increasingly sinister turn, as Alice finds herself crossing moral and emotional boundaries that erode her hold on reality. When Mr. Wyck’s grand scheme goes wrong, culminating in a night of horrific violence, Alice is barely able to find her way back to sanity.

Twenty years later, Alice Wood has created a quiet life for herself as a professor of folklore, but an acclaimed filmmaker threatens to expose her past with a documentary about Jack Wyck’s crimes and the cult-like following he continues to attract from his prison cell. Wyck has never forgiven Alice for testifying against him, and as he plots to overturn his conviction and regain his freedom, she is forced to confront the truth about what happened to her in the farmhouse—and her complicity in the evil around her.

The Singing Bone is a spellbinding examination of guilt, innocence, and the fallibility of memory, a richly imagined novel that heralds the arrival of a remarkable new voice in literary suspense.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/25/2016
In the tantalizing opening, set in 1999, of Hahn’s carefully crafted first novel, documentary filmmaker Hans Loomis steels himself to open a package, covered with drawings of snakes, birds, skulls, and flowers, from Jack Wyck, a convicted felon. That Hans has asked Wyck about something that happened two decades earlier is a sign to Wyck that he’ll soon be out of prison. A flashback to upstate New York in 1979 introduces 17-year-old Alice Pearson, a high school student who, with three friends, becomes involved with the mysterious Wyck, who lives in an isolated farmhouse. Twenty years later, Alice, now a folklore professor, is researching ballads about a murdered girl’s body transformed into a musical instrument that’s able to identify her killer. After Hans contacts Alice about his film about Wyck, she’s chilled to learn that Wyck has fans who have created a website featuring images from his past crimes. Well-wrought leads enhance the effective, gradual reveal of exactly what put Wyck behind bars. Agent: Jessica Papin, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"Tantalizing . . . carefully crafted."

Publishers Weekly

"A writer to watch for fans of sophisticated psychological suspense . . . Hahn maintains a fine balance between mystery and disclosure. The atmosphere throughout is tense and subtly creepy, and the folkloric elements are an interesting, original touch."

Kirkus Reviews

"The Singing Bone reads like the work of a seasoned novelist: rich, haunting, layered, beautifully written. It raises questions about the good and evil in all of us, the characters are complex, and the story's a page-turner—what more could a reader ask for?"

B. A. Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author of The Art Forger

"I stayed up all night reading The Singing Bone, and I kept on reading it on the airport bus. When I finished it, I was halfway across the ocean, and I wanted to stand up in the aisle and yell, this is a terrific book by a writer with talent to burn and the only thing wrong with it was that it wasn’t twice as long. Fans of the elegant, masterful, and downright chilling, watch this space for Beth Hahn."

— Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean and Two if By Sea

"The debut spine-chiller from Beth Hahn, is a concoction of sophistication and surprise . . . riveting in detail and nuance."

Bookpage

School Library Journal
11/01/2016
Quiet, studious Alice Wood is forced to face her past when filmmaker Hans Loomis approaches her about including her story in a documentary about cult leader Jack Wyck in the 1970s. Although Alice has sought obscurity after the events of that summer, which led to Wyck's imprisonment, it soon becomes clear that Alice will be outed either by the filmmaker or a group of Wyckians, who still admire Wyck despite his conviction. In her debut, Hahn intertwines Alice's experiences with free love and drugs and her search for enlightenment as a teenager with her desire to remain anonymous as an adult. The chapters alternate between 1979 and 1999, but Alice's stream-of-consciousness narrative sometimes blurs the line between past and present. This book demonstrates convincingly how an intelligent, well-liked, and respected high school student can suddenly find herself involved with a man on the fringes of society. Although teens need to navigate between two narrators and two different time periods, those who appreciate psychological thrillers will keep reading for answers. VERDICT A good choice where Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and Paula Hawkins's The Girl on the Train are popular.—Krystina Kelley, Belle Valley School, Belleville, IL
Kirkus Reviews
2015-12-16
A debut novel about the nature of guilt and the impossibility of escaping the past. High school senior Alice Pearson is ready to leave her past behind her and make a new life far away from upstate New York. But Alice's plans change when she meets the charismatic Mr. Wyck. Instead of going to college, she moves into his big, ramshackle house in the woods, where she becomes part of an ersatz family devoted to sex, drugs, and idiosyncratic spiritual beliefs. Readers will not be surprised when things go terribly, terribly wrong; indeed, that they will is clear from the very start. The narrative begins in 1999, 20 years after the events that changed Alice's life. She's adopted a new name and built a new identity as a professor of folklore, but this doesn't stop a documentary filmmaker from finding her. Nor does it protect her from Wyck's fanatical online following. As her carefully constructed existence unravels, Alice must confront dangers from within and without, including her own role in a string of murders. Shifting back and forth in time, Hahn maintains a fine balance between mystery and disclosure. The atmosphere throughout is tense and subtly creepy, and the folkloric elements are an interesting, original touch. Alice's specialty is a group of ballads and tales in which a murder victim's body transforms—a breastbone turns into a harp, hair is used as violin strings—and reveals the name of his or her killer. This material is so rich and resonant that readers may wish there had been more of it. The other disappointment is the extent to which Mr. Wyck's household resembles Charles Manson's and his "family," right down to Manson's musical ambitions. The inability to forget these real-life murderers makes it difficult, sometimes, to believe in Hahn's fictional sociopaths. But these are minor complaints. Hahn is a writer to watch for fans of sophisticated psychological suspense.
Jacquelyn Mitchard
"I stayed up all night readingThe Singing Bone, and I kept on reading it on the airport bus. When I finished it, I was halfway across the ocean, and I wanted to stand up in the aisle and yell, this is a terrific book by a writer with talent to burn and the only thing wrong with it was that it wasn’t twice as long. Fans of the elegant, masterful, and downright chilling, watch this space for Beth Hahn"

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781942872566
Publisher:
Regan Arts.
Publication date:
03/01/2016
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
445,223
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

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Meet the Author

Beth Hahn studied art and writing at the University of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and earned an MFA in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College. She attended the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference and has been the recipient of a Ragdale Foundation residency. Beth’s short stories have appeared in Necessary Fiction, The Hawai'i Review, The South Carolina Review, and The Emrys Journal. She lives in New Castle, New York, with her husband, where she teaches yoga.

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The Singing Bone 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have sometimes wondered when a news reporter says "it is a parents worst nightmare" if he or she is a parent, because of all the terrifying things that can happen to your child, how could you single out just one as the worst? But certainly Jack Wyck would be one of the multitude of the darkest demons. This book is like stepping into the Manson family inner sanctum. Tense and frightening, I wanted to stop reading, but couldn't. It is not a beach read, more like a modern take on a gothic horror novel. Would I pass this along to a friend? For a dark and stormy night, you bet
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book really pulls you in. I enjoyed it even though it was unsettling
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago