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Bonfire by Krysten Ritter


We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Krysten Ritter, on your first book!

by Krysten Ritter

Quick take

"A well-plotted mystery with a self-reliant yet flawed heroine that delivers an intense, satisfying payoff."

Why I love it

Liberty Hardy
BOTM Judge

Mean girls, long-buried secrets, and unanswered questions are at the center of this fantastic debut thriller from Krysten Ritter. Yes, that Krysten Ritter. The actress/producer—known most recently for her portrayal of Jessica Jones on Netflix—has penned a compelling page-turner that is sure to please fans of Gillian Flynn and Megan Abbott.

As a successful environmental lawyer in Chicago, Abby Williams is living the dream, but then a case she is working on requires her to return to the small town she fled ten years earlier in order to investigate the town’s biggest employer. No sooner does Abby get to town does she quickly realize she still has a lot of issues lurking in her past, starting with her former best friend Kaycee, the head of a Heathers-esque clique who made high school hell for her. Kaycee became mysteriously ill at the end of her senior year, and then disappeared around graduation. When Abby delves deeper, she learns the truth about Kaycee is a lot more sinister and the corruption more far-reaching than she ever imagined.

Bonfire is exactly what I want from a thriller: a well-plotted mystery with a self-reliant yet flawed heroine that delivers an intense, satisfying payoff. It’s like Sharp Objects meets The Fever. While deftly unwinding the central mystery, Ritter also portrays the claustrophobia and lack of privacy that comes with growing up in a small town. And she captures the apprehension of returning to a place that made us miserable, yet being drawn to it like a missing puzzle piece we need to find.

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From actress, producer, and writer Krysten Ritter, a gripping, tightly wound suspense novel about a woman forced to confront her past in the wake of small-town corruption.

It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small-town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’s biggest scandal from more than a decade ago, involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as she tries desperately to find out what really happened to Kaycee, troubling memories begin to resurface and she begins to doubt her own observations. And when she unearths an even more disturbing secret—ritual called "The Game"—it will threaten reputations, and lives, in the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote rural town of just five claustrophobic square miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of what happens when your past and present collide.

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Member thoughts

All (4191)
All (4191)
Love (1410)
Like (2366)
Dislike (415)
4344 ratings
  • 32% Love
  • 54% Like
  • 10% Dislike
  • Modesto, CA

    Major Sharp Objects vibes: troubled woman returns to her hometown to confront her past while battling her own demons and solving a mystery at the same time. Especially for a debut author I’m impressed

  • Kalamazoo, MI

    As a small town girl, & a huge fan of Kristen Ritter, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this novel! Erin Brockovich, meet Abby Williams! I hope to read more from Ritter because her writing kicks ass!

  • Harrison , MI

    I am started to read this book and I love it it is well written book very mysterious book has I continue to read and get lost in the pages. I hope everyone likes the book to. Please tell me what

  • Lemoore, CA

    I love love love Krysten Ritter! When it was announced she wrote a book I couldn’t wait to get it! Page turner! Did remind me of the movie with Julia Roberts so the main character I pictured was her

  • Milwaukee, WI

    This book didn't even last 24 hours! I woke up early so I could read more before work and finished it on my lunch break! I devoured the pages in search for clues so I could figure it out! Great read!

  • Sheboygan, WI

    I didn't know what I was getting into with this book but I'm glad I read it. It made me think of Jessica Jones, a character the author plays.Gotta love a small-town mystery fueled by chilling motives.

  • Burnsville, MN

    The plot is kind of easy to figure out the whodunnit aspect, and some aspects are cliche, but there was still a lot of WOAH. I had the whodunnit but not they why right, so it was fun to figure it out.

  • Seattle , WA

    I would dare to clarify this as an eco-thriller, given the official investigation of the main character. Still waters run deep, especially in an insular community, and Ritter captures it beautifully.

  • Millersville , MD

    The small town angle has been done before but Krysten centered the story around it instead of using it as just background. Very dramatic ending with a lot of lead up that makes you question everything

  • bloomington, CA

    I was pleasantly surprised with how good this was, especially after the reviews other book of the monthers left. I absolutely loved it. My only criticism: Condor's character needed more development.

  • Woodland , CA

    This book was incredible! It was a shorter book but that made the story line move fast and stay intriguing! The characters had a rich back story and was really neat to following along with their past.

  • Fishers , IN

    This book kept me looped and fascinated throughout. Strong story line with a bold protagonist made the read worth my time and at the same time fun too. Much appreciation and love to krysten Ritter:-)!

  • Whittier, CA

    This novel jerked me in so many directions. I couldn't see the ending from miles away. I couldn't put this book down! The plot point of this story made me cringe since it had me believe it can happen.

  • Tucson, AZ

    I really enjoyed this story and how it unfolded. Great characters and plot. The only shame was the book fell apart while I read it, pages fell out constantly, making it a difficult book to get through

  • North Liberty, IA

    I loved this story, it was well paced and I found it interesting how it all played out. Although it didn't go how I thought it would, I was pleaseantly surprised and would recommend this to friends!

  • Park Ridge, IL

    This book captivated me from the first words! The writing was such that it flowed with ease. Just the right mix of story telling and descriptive text. I'm not usually a mystery fan, I loved this one!

  • Rochester, MI

    This book was super intriguing, and very in-tune with what many readers are looking for lately. Think "Gone Girl" but a little more tricky. Finished it in a day, basically the metric for a good book.

  • Winter Springs, FL

    I was both hesitant and excited to pick this novel up, but I'm glad I did. For a debut novel it's got a lot going for it. It's well written, well thought out and has a really interesting plot line.

  • Louisville , KY

    This book reminded me of Erin Brockovich a little bit, and also had some similarities to a Gillian Flynn novel. Not overly predictable, but the details lined up enough that the conclusion made sense.

  • Lemont, IL

    Abby's character is so intense and well written, as is the unbelievable-but-beleivable conspiracy theory she's investigating. A quick read while still being emotional, creepy, and totally immersive.

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