Skeletal begins with the discovery a dead body and then progresses through the tragic life of a New Zealand teen, Daina Harrow. Most of the story is told from Daina’s post mortem POV – although the author threw in the brief POV of a school administrator early on in the story.
Readers learn the unfortunate circumstances of Daina’s sad and short life. With no real father figure in her life, and an alcoholic and drug-addicted mother, Daina has bounced around from home to home and school to school. She’s bullied, beaten and raped, and her mother has no clue what’s going on. She’s too busy prostituting herself out of the family apartment and shooting heroin.
Skeletal is probably one of the strangest books I’ve read so far. Not just because it bounces from past to present throughout the book, but it’s difficult to truly decipher what exactly is really going on with/to Daina’s character. Without giving away any spoilers…halfway through the book I had some idea of where the author was going with the story and was satisfied with that, but then she added an entirely new subplot into the mix. A pharmaceutical cover-up was suddenly underway.
Then, to mix things up even more, the book went back even further to when Daina was just five or six years old. While it’s true that these flashbacks were added to ultimately explain the cover-up, I feel Katherine Hayton could have simplified things had she cut out a subplot or two and saved them for another book. The ending went on longer than I thought was necessary. By then I knew the outcome and just wanted to cut to the chase, but it seemed unnecessarily padded.
Skeletal isn’t listed as a YA, even though the main character is just fourteen at the beginning of the story – and that’s probably a good thing, since some of the subject matter is a little “rough” for youngsters (hence the 17+ warning in the book’s info section). Honestly, Daina’s vocabulary seemed unrealistically advanced for a fourteen-year-old anyway.
All things considered, I would say that Skeletal should appeal to readers who enjoy unique psychological thrillers and mysteries.
4 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton
eBook Review Gal received a complimentary copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.