Small Town Suspense


Abby Williams left behind her hometown of Barrens, Indiana the moment she got the opportunity to leave. Essentially vanishing without a trace, she left behind her small town roots to pursue bigger and better opportunities in Chicago, Illinois. But now that she’s returned, the mysteries and secrets of Barrens are starting to reveal themselves.

For actress Krysten Ritter’s debut novel, Bonfire, she channels her inner Erin Brockovich to tell the story of fictional corruption in a town run by a major corporation and a young lawyer set to prove to her small hometown that she’s returned to uncover the truth. Much like the roles she’s played on Marvel’s Jessica Jones and Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, a fierce, female protagonist dominates the story and creates a character worth admiring.

The main reason for Abby’s homecoming is work – her environmental law firm is investigating Optimal Plastics, a high profile company largely responsible for Barrens economic boom. Unfortunately, they may also be largely responsible for contaminating the town’s water supply. When Abby and her team come to inspect the accusations made by residents, they uncover much more than they bargain for.

As if corruption wasn’t a big enough problem, Abby believes that Optimal, as well as her former classmates, may be in on some town secret revolving around her former friend, Kaycee Mitchell. When they were seniors in high school, Kaycee and her friends got violently sick. Although the other girls confessed that it was all an act, Abby wasn’t convinced. It got her thinking, was Kaycee’s illness and the issues happening in Barrens all related?

Although Bonfire is relatively a YA novel, it can equally capture the attention of adults. With its mix of suspense, secrets and short yet detailed chapters, Ritter explores a variety of genres to appeal to a wider audience. Almost each chapter leaves the reader with a different question, whether it is about the town’s corruption or Abby’s love life or the mystery surrounding Kaycee. When they all eventually tie together, it brings each story line to a well-deserved end.

Abby Williams may have left behind her hometown of Barrens, Indiana the moment she got the opportunity to leave, but her return was far from a homecoming. Her family, her love life, her career and her former classmates all play parts in the endearing story that is Bonfire.