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“Bone White” by Ronald Malfi

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Ronald Malfi’s novel Bone White follows Paul Gallo as he travels to Alaska in search of his missing twin brother. Faced with brutal weather and inhospitable locals, Paul perseveres. But the snow and darkness may be hiding something even more dangerous, and not every local superstition is just a story.

Malfi does a masterful job of creating an unsettling, oppressive atmosphere. The cold, isolation, and quiet of the wilderness really come through. One of the strongest scenes in the book involves Paul following a man he saw peering through his window into the woods at night. The scene has a dreamlike feel that I really appreciated. The more action-oriented scenes are well-constructed too, leading to a good balance overall.

While there certainly are supernatural phenomena present in the story, human interactions are at the heart of it. Although Paul and his brother have sometimes had a difficult relationship, Paul’s love for him shines through. Malfi made me believe that Paul would go through everything he does over the course of the story for his brother. He also gives us a good sense of an insular community that resists infiltration by outsiders—and might have more reason for doing so than most. I really enjoyed this novel and look forward to checking out more of Malfi’s work.

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