Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll
Reviewed by John Glover, Reference Librarian for the Humanities
Bones of the Moon is a down-the-rabbit-hole sort of fantasy, one that begins in a wholly real Manhattan and ends up traveling through Rondua, a land strange and whimsical enough to rival Poictesme or the Dreamlands or Neverland. The intrusion of the strange in this novel is gradual, the kind of slow seepage one finds in Shirley Jackson or Robert Aickman, and readers will find themselves believing in the thoroughly real world of the protagonists as easily as they will the adventures set in the land of Rondua. It’s difficult to talk in detail about the characters and the plot without giving the entire story away, but suffice it to say that everything in the book, however fantastic, develops from a major turning point in the life of Cullen James, Bones’ protagonist.
This short novel will appeal to readers who like both thoughtful fantasy and domestic tales. A great part of the story is concerned with the relationship between Cullen and her husband Danny, and the minutiae of their lives, albeit subtly influenced by the fantastic. Carroll, an American-born author residing in Vienna, has won notable literary awards in the U.S., Britain, France, and elsewhere. His skills are on fine display here, from his eerily apt descriptions for imaginary geographies to his nuanced descriptions of Cullen James’ reactions to the events that overtake her life like a sudden storm.
Bones of the Moon is available in VCU’s Special Collections, and other Carroll stories can be found in the circulating collection, from the surreal adventures of architect Harry Radcliffe (Outside the Dog Museum) to a comic battle between Go(o)d and Chaos (Glass Soup).