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Road of Bones


Road of Bones

Christopher Golden is one of the most diverse and talented writers working today. His latest novel, ROAD OF BONES, will not only scare the hell out of you, it will show you things you have never imagined and take you to a part of the earth that hopefully you have never been to. Collectively, this creates the perfect recipe for a nightmare-inducing work that will worm its way into your psyche and threaten to never leave.

Documentary filmmaker Felix “Teig” Teigland, a Yank, and his faithful cameraman, Prentiss, a proud Brit, have been seeking that one perfect gig that will put them over the top. Teig’s brilliant idea takes them to perhaps the edge of the earth, the starkest place on the planet: Siberia, Russia --- specifically the fateful Kolyma Highway, also known as the Road of Bones. They are meeting with a local guide to scout the area as a possible site for a series Teig wishes to call “Life and Death on the Road of Bones.”

"...a nightmare-inducing work that will worm its way into your psyche and threaten to never leave.... Christopher Golden’s novel is simply bone-chilling from start to finish."

For those not familiar with Kolyma Highway, which would be most of the residents of planet Earth, official maps refer to it as R504. In the days of Stalin when the Soviet Union was formed, this long road still had many settlements of Yakuts living along it. Stalin then went ahead and built approximately 80 gulags, or concentration camps. The inhuman cold that could freeze a man’s eyeballs inside his head made this the cruelest place in the world to exist. As a result, Kolyma Highway is literally layered with the bones of thousands upon thousands of those who have perished there and become forever trapped beneath the permafrost. With all this human suffering and death, you can imagine there will be tales of ghosts and all sorts of supernatural goings-on, which is exactly what Teig and Prentiss want to find out about.

After meeting their Yakut guide, an ex-convict named Kaskil, they plan to spend the night in the town of Akhust before a day of exploration. Kaskil tells them various stories of his family and regales them with the legendary ghostly tale of Ludmilla, which he promises will be a popular episode for them. Before reaching Akhust, they must refuel, and Kaskil recommends an exceedingly small spot that has the only bar in the area. On the way, they rescue Nari, a woman stuck on the side of the road with a dead vehicle, and take her with them. They meet some friendly locals and enjoy reindeer burgers. They also notice odd-looking wolves that seem to be following them along the highway.

Teig and Prentiss make it to Kaskil’s house and settle in there, while Kaskil and Nari try to find someone who can help tow Nari's car. But they quickly return in a panic, claiming that no one is there --- as in no one in the entire town! When the four head out to investigate, they find this to be the case but with one exception. Kaskil’s young niece, Una, is the only person they can locate. The group is immediately set upon by the wild wolves that had been tracking them earlier. The result is not good as Kaskil is taken down by the pack and killed, while Prentiss is gravely injured. The survivors jump back in Teig and Prentiss’ truck and return to the bar with the supernaturally speedy wolves hunting them the entire way, no matter how fast they drive.

I am so excited about ROAD OF BONES that I would love to continue, but the rest is for you to discover. Let me just tease you with this: Teig and Prentiss are now without a guide, trapped in a strange and haunted territory, with two companions they do not know or understand. Eventually they will come face to face with much more than just Ludmilla in the forest of Siberia and the spiritual denizens of the Road of Bones. Christopher Golden’s novel is simply bone-chilling from start to finish.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on January 28, 2022

Road of Bones
by Christopher Golden