Ooof but this was a struggle. I don't think I've ever been so quickly disappointed with a book I really, really wanted to like. And I'm not even a fan of urban fantasy! But Bone Song is also a noir thriller, and I'm a sucker for those, plus I'd heard the world building was amazing, so I threw myself at the book with abandon...and ended up frequently throwing the book at things (wall, floor, bed, etc.). Let me count the ways...
The world building. Seriously, I love the concept of a person's bones storing their memories after death, and the fact that they can be used to power entire cities. Necrofusion! Oh my.
Also, the creature show. Zombies and deathwolves and wraiths - the latter especially, as they allow for semi-sentient motor bikes. I WANT A SENTIENT MOTOR BIKE!
The plot starts out as a proper noir detective story and paces along merrily until about half-way through, when the cast's Jump To Conclusions map breaks and suddenly nothing makes any sense anymore. Or maybe it does, but while Meaney spends a lot of time over-explaining consequences and correlations in the beginning of the book, there's a marked absense of logic in the latter half. By that time I was so fatigued with the writing (see below), though, I couldn't really bring myself to turn back a few pages to see whether I'd missed anything.
Logicfail: When your own characters know they're being stupid or irrational, don't you think they're trying to tell you something?
Pacingfail: I don't know whether Meaney made a deliberate choice to slow down the plot at various places throughout the book, but if it was on purpose, it back-fired, for it was most frustrating. To give you an example: as early on as page 44, we are treated to Donal's after-work rituals. On four long, long pages, Donal comes home, changes, warms up, goes back outside for a run, comes back, eats something, reads a book and goes to bed. This wouldn't be so bad if anything interesting happened along the way, but it doesn't. IT DOESN'T.
HeroComplexFail: Towards the end, when everything is coming to a head and I've just gotten a bit of interest back in how it all ends, Donal arrives in Illurium to hunt down the evil mastermind behind the murders. But first he sends his driver away and goes to hang out on a station platform. You'd think he was there to catch a train, but no, it seems he's only there so that he can accidentally spot and save a young girl from a pimp trying to snare her. He beats him up, gives money to the girl, takes his gun, and then! Returns to the driver. BECAUSE THAT MADE SENSE.
WritingFail: The worst, the worst thing about Bone Song - and the reason the book flew so often - was the writing. It was okay in most places, but awkward in others, and downright atrocious in too many places to ignore. I don't want to bash the author - I couldn't write a book to save my life, so I have respect for anyone who can. However, the over-use of sentence fragments became so obnoxious, I'd be dishonest if I didn't at least mention it here. I think it's done for dramatic effect, and it sometimes works, for example: But as Donal walked, he remembered something more, against his will: the deep richness of the world seen through Jamix Holandson's eyes.
Through his lifeless bone.
Dramatic, right? But trust me, when this kind of structure occurs on every other page, all drama is lost and the only effect left is one of intense frustration. Now, on other rooftops, pairs of scarlet eyes blinked, feline and knowing, at Laura sitting at the base of Darksan Tower's spire, straing into the night.
The night to which she belonged.
Maybe it's just me. Maybe you won't mind at all. If you like your urban fantasy and you're ready for some pretty cool concepts in world building, go right ahead and read this. It's not a bad book. It just has issues.