Publisher: Subterranean Press
Author: Mira Grant
Released: December 31st 2018
Warnings: Bioterrorism, child death; not a great story for hypochondriacs
I received a copy of Kingdom of Needle and Bone through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Kingdom of Needle and Bone is Mira Grant’s (AKA Seanan McGuire) latest novella, and it is not for the faint of heart. Seriously, I was about eighty percent of the way through this novella when I realized I have compulsively sanitized my hands more than six times while reading.
Unlike Mira Grant’s other works, this novella is entirely human. There are no mythical creatures swimming through the ocean terrorizing the characters, there’s no zombies munching on anybody. This is all about humans, diseases, and how we handle a crisis.
While I would have read this novella regardless, because of the author, I would like to think that the cover would have caught my attention and made me tempted to read it. The cover itself is quite beautiful, but also does a fantastic job portraying the subject inside.
Before I begin my review, I just want to make a quick note. While I’m sure you’ll be able to grab a digital copy of this novella at any time, I know that the print run for it is rather limited (I think it’s around one thousand copies – which isn’t much when you think about it). So if you want a copy you should grab it from Subterranean Press while you can.
Warnings first: Kingdom of Needle and Bone covers a lot of heavy subjects, specifically those revolving around disease and outbreaks. If you’re prone to being freaked out while talking or thinking about sick people, this may not be a good call for you. Also, Mira Grant did a wonderful job of bringing the tragedy of it all down to a human level, but that also makes you that much more aware of the people affected, including children.
Kingdom of Needle and Bone is one of the heavier novellas I’ve read this month, and I don’t have any regrets about that. I read it all in one sitting, and part of me even wished that there was more to it when it was all over. I would love to see a novel or two set in this world.
Morris’s disease isn’t a real disease, but it sure felt like it while I was reading. The disease is based off of real-life Measles, but with even more dreadful results. I love that Mira Grant had them name the disease after the first known victim – that made it all feel so much more real. I feel like that is something that would have been done in real life. The thought of it all sent chills down my spine.
Mira Grant did a brilliant job of blending science and science fiction here. While there were leaps made here, they were all done in disturbingly believable ways. The reason a disease like Morris’s could take hold to begin with, the hidden side effects of a disease like that, the following outbreaks, and the panic. It all made sense, and that’s the most disturbing part. It would have been a lot easier to digest if we could just brush it off as ‘typical science fiction’ but the truth of the matter is that we can’t.
There was absolutely a political statement being made in this novella, and I applaud Mira Grant for doing so. That may be my bias showing, since I wholeheartedly agree with the points that were being made here. More than that though, Mira Grant explored the complexities of the political side of this sort of situation. How something that seems so simple can get all twisted up and torn apart, thanks in part to human nature and politics.
This was a chilling read, through and through. I loved every moment of it, from the parts that really did hit me quite hard, to the parts that made me stop and think about the logistics of everything. It was all brilliantly written. I know it’s early to talk of it, but I can’t wait to see what her next novel or novella will be about.