The new Nicholas Day novel is a difficult piece for me to dissect. In its first half, I found it increasingly difficult to push on due to its violence. I don’t have many triggers, but the death of children is one that makes me boil from the inside, especially if they are graphic. Grind Your Bones to Dust doesn’t shy away from violence whatsoever; in fact, it seems to embrace it at times for the sake of shock value (something I also shy away from, generally). When a bad man continues to kill the people that happen upon his path, it’s not unexpected. However, when he seeks to force sodomy upon them or cut out the hearts of their children, a line is being crossed in my mind. The scene in which he tortures a mother and her little girl actually angered me so much that I nearly deleted the book file, not wanting any more to do with it. However, after talking with a fellow reviewer in our KR group chat, I decided I would do my best to complete the book. Luckily, my trigger wasn’t pulled but once after that (and it was more of a squeeze than a full-on pull).
You may ask why I would push myself to finish a book that upset me so in its early pages. The thing I learned about Nicholas Day with Grind Your Bones to Dust is this: he is one hell of a writer. Darkly lyrical and achingly classic in its delivery, his writing crosses the likeness of Shakespeare with Poe. The visuals this man creates are undeniable. The scares he delivers are truly unnerving. The villain of this story is a disgusting one, a man so sick in the head that he can’t help but feel a compulsion to mutilate and murder anyone he finds. And the flesh-eating donkeys, well…they’re a new kind of nightmare.
Despite its flaws and overly bleak, dreadful nature, I couldn’t help but look back at this novel as a journey well spent. It fucked with me more than once, but Day’s words lured me back every time. Would I read it again? With the exception of a couple specific pages, I think I would. His explicit and poetic prose deliver room for exploration, so return visits are certainly warranted. Grind Your Bones to Dust may be a difficult read at times, but it’s a force to be reckoned.
And, yes, I do intend on following Day’s work from this point forward. I’ve just purchased Now That We’re Alone.
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