Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw


I’ve never until lately read horror novels at least not like the kind written by Stephen King or those with large amounts of horror elements. It comes from having seen Halloween II at a young age and having nightmares about movies, television shows, and books that are especially violent. My mind continues on with the story even after it ends and does not resemble any shape, form, or fashion remotely close to the actual plot.

The young adult novel by Madness by Paityn Parque changed that. Then came Cassandra Khaw’s Hammers on Bone novella. Both are copies I have received for free. I try and review books that I have gotten for free. The novella is part of publisher TOR”s on-line book club.

Things have changed — so far no nightmares. Maybe my subconscious is working up to reading Stephen King.

There are books that have a gritty feel because the author replicates the not-so-pretty world of life on the street and hard-bitten crime interrelated with poverty and other societal ills. One such book is Young Americans by Peter Rush set in Florida, Georgia, and Columbia and dealing with the world of trafficking drugs.

Hammers on Bone is more than gritty. It’s a grimy and slimy odd well-written highly condensed novella. A lot happens in 68 pages, most of it bad and violent with the occasional act of kindness/mercy by Persons, the private detective hired by a young boy Abel, to kill Abel’s and James’ (the younger brother) stepfather (McKinsey), Hammers on Bone‘s world is the underbelly of metro London of child abuse/molestation and domestic violence. The domestic violence is not out in the open while the worst of the child abuse/molestation is hidden, disguised. There are no descriptions of acts but it is there if you recognize the signs and read between the lines.

McKinsey is a monster, not the imaginary or the tongue-in-cheek kind but a real life monster whose parasite infected its host human body). In one of its Persons is also a parasite living in a host body and so is an apt avenger. The host and the parasite in Persons struggles for control throughout while McKinsey’s parasite takes control, unleashing its horror on those who get too close. In a last last act before it is in turn killed it infects the boys’ mother and wife of McKinsey.

The one thing that was annoying and led to rereading at times was the confusion in who was speaking. It was not all of the time, but was enough to break the pacing.