Saturday, July 23, 2011

bag of bones...............

The main character, Mike Noonan, is an author living in Derry, Maine who suffers from severe writer's block after the death of his wife, Johanna (called Jo), from an undiagnosed brain aneurism. Particularly disquieting to Mike is that his wife had just bought a home pregnancy test, but never revealed the pregnancy to him. Mike languishes after his wife's death, and finds himself unable to write due to panic attacks. Fortunately, he has four unpublished manuscripts, and using them he keeps his agent and editor unaware of his problem.

Four years after Jo's death, Mike begins to experience nightmares set at his summer house in TR-90, an unregistered township in Maine. He decides to confront his fears and moves to the house, known to locals as "Sara Laughs". On his way to town, Mike encounters a small child, Kyra Devore, walking down the middle of the road. Mike worries that something might happen to the child if she continues walking like that, so he scoops her up and returns to his car with her. A moment later, Kyra's mother, Mattie Devore, comes flying up the road in her old jeep. Mike's initial reaction is that Mattie is a "white trash" mom who will yell at the child and possibly beat it due to her own inattentions, but he is pleasantly surprised when Mattie clutches the child for dear life and begs her never to run off again. The two talk for a few minutes and Mattie drives off.

Later, while in town, Mike learns from the locals that Mattie's late husband, Lance, was the son of Max Devore, a rich and influential man from the town who didn't approve of his son's marriage to Mattie. Max, now well into his 80's and bound to a wheelchair, wants custody of his granddaughter, and is using his money and influence to paint Mattie as an irresponsible mother. Through his caretaker, Bill, Mike learns of Mattie's past, her marriage, and her custody woes.

When Max finds out that Mike ran into Mattie and Kyra, he threatens him via telephone. Despite the threats, or perhaps because of them, Mike hires John Storrow, a custody lawyer, for Mattie as an act of kindness, and he gradually develops feelings for Mattie despite the almost twenty-year age difference between them. Through his various crooked connections, Max manages to drag Mike into the custody battle even further by forcing him to make a deposition for the impending custody hearing. Accompanied by a local lawyer, Romeo Bisonette, Mike makes the custody lawyer hired by Devore look foolish by beating him at his own game and calling his bluff.

Mike begins to write again, while both Kyra and Mike experience hauntings in their homes. The author realizes that the ghost of Jo is assisting him in solving the mystery of Sara Tidwell, a blues singer whose spirit is haunting Mike's house. Mike asks the locals about what happened to Sara Tidwell, and is warned to refrain from digging in old scandals. He also learns that Jo frequently returned to the town in the year before her death, without telling him.

Max Devore threatens Mike again, and in an encounter with Mike, Max and his personal assistant, Rogette, almost succeed in drowning him. It's only due to the help from his wife's spirit that he's able to survive the attack. Then, in an unexpected turn of events, Max Devore commits suicide, which seemingly leaves Mattie and Kyra free from his influence.

Mike, Mattie, John, and Romeo Bissonette, the lawyer that assisted Mike during his deposition and a detective are having a party when a gunman shows up and shoots everyone in sight, Mattie fatally. Mike, the only adult not hit, takes Kyra back to Sara Laughs as a huge storm breaks. He is acting under the influence of the ghost of Sara Tidwell and finds himself preparing to drown Kyra and commit suicide himself, going so far as to give Kyra cocoa and Benadryl to make her sleep, and drawing the bath. But there are still pieces to the mystery that Mike doesn't understand, and the ghost of Jo is trying to prevent him from doing what he is doing.

As Kyra sleeps, Mike goes to Jo's studio to search for answers. He discovers documents that Jo had hidden away before her death, and among the papers is a genealogy showing Mike's blood relationship to one of the town families. Several had firstborn children with "K" names who had been murdered or died under suspicious circumstances. The genealogy shows that Mike and Jo's child (who was going to be named Kia) would have been the next firstborn child with a "K" name in the family line, had she been born.

Mike realizes this must be Sara Tidwell's curse for something that had been done to her. He returns to the house, checks on the still-sleeping Kyra, and drains the bath meant for her drowning. He can feel Sara's influence to take Kyra to the lake, but he fights it off. He leaves the house once more with a shovel and a bottle of lye to search for Sara's grave, knowing that the only way to break the curse and keep Kyra safe will be to destroy Sara's bones. On his way to where Mike suspects Sara is buried, the ghosts of Max Devore's grandfather and several other town men appear to him and try to block him from getting to the grave. Mike learns through a vision that these men had viciously raped and killed Sara, and drowned her son Kito in the lake. Furthermore, all the "K" children who had died were descendants of those men. Mike makes it to the grave site, but Sara's ghost doesn't want the curse ended prematurely. She tries to stop Mike, and attempts to assume corporeal form to do so. Jo appears in corporeal form herself and tells Mike he must hurry as Sara has enlisted the help of "The Outsider" to harm Mike and prevent him from reaching Sara's bones. Jo struggles to fight off The Outsider while Mike digs up and destroys Sara's bones with the lye, ending the curse.

Returning to the house, Mike discovers that Max Devore's assistant Rogette has kidnapped Kyra. Mike follows Kyra and Rogette to a neighboring property, arriving just as Kyra bites Rogette and attempts to escape onto a dock heaving in the waves from the storm. Mike tries to hit Rogette and keep her away from Kyra when Mattie's ghost appears and knocks Rogette into the Lake. Rogette attempts to pull Mike into the lake with her, but she is impaled by wreckage from the dock. Mattie's ghost says her goodbyes to Mike and Kyra, and she tells Kyra that she is now Mike's daughter.

The story ends with an epilogue in which Mike has retired from writing, and is attempting to adopt Kyra. His status as a single, unrelated male complicates things, and the adoption has taken longer than Mike anticipated. Still, the state has allowed Mike to visit Kyra, and she has been allowed overnight stays with him. The outcome of the adoption is left unresolved at the end, but there is hope that it will be a positive outcome.

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