Bones is my favorite horror character now. I LOVED “Bones” but thought parts of “Shepherd” were slow until the end. Wheaton can write great action, but the characters are what makes these stories as good as “The Stand” or “On the Beach.” Everyone is doomed and they seem to know it but fight anyway. That’s why Sharon in “Shepherd” is so, so great. She knows civilization is DOOMED. Even though her suicide may seem accidental, she did it to herself. Only Bones can survive, exploring a world in which he is the new master!
After reading “Mongrel,” I hope there are more prequel stories.
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The reviewer who called this the best of indie horror was right. Mark Wheaton’s “Bones” series sticks with you. They seem simple enough. Man-killing disasters happen around the country and a police dog is in the thick of it. That he nevver saves the day comes off as a joke but the animal continues to survive when when the intelligent and well-equipaged soldiers, cops, rescue workers, and mercs around him are all devoured by the monster or monsters doing the world-ending.
Spoilers to follow.
From a character standpoint, Bones does not have a character arc and stays consistent throughout. Across three novellas, mankind has an arc instead. In “Bones,” they are all-powerful and eventually put down a manmade menace with their military might. In “Shepherd,” nature gets involved and starts off the destruction with an earthquake. Then manmade construction materials drive rats and birds crazy and finish the job. In “Alpha,” angry mercs looking to steal weapons release a virus the military was experimenting with that devastates mankind. By accident, it is nature that preserves the human race as a genetic accident keeps a tiny percentage of people alive. Nature at large takes back the rest of the planet with dogs as the dominant species.
Throughout all of this, Bones can be seen as the embodiment of Nature as a character. He is affected by what happens but doesn’t seem to care that much. When the humans really mess up, Bones’ life may be in jeopardy, but he outlives them. Which brings us to the prequel story, “Mongrel.” In it, you learn that much of Bones’ good nature and obedience comes from his involvement with his first trainer. This story makes me think man and nature could have worked together but failed.
The books are extremely violent and often gory with a dark sense of humor. Like the best horror stories they have something deeper to say about the human condition. I am looking forward to reading the other Wheaton horror books.
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