Bonfire by Krysten Ritter


Krysten Ritter

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

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“A phenomenal, haunting debut.” 
—GILLIAN FLYNN, bestselling author of Gone Girl

"I burned through Krysten Ritter's hugely accomplished debut. Bonfire is dark, disturbing, and compulsively readable."
—RUTH WARE, bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10
Nothing burns as bright as the truth.

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—a 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.

Advance Galley Reviews

Pretty good book. I am a fan of the actress and was excited to read her first novel. I would highly recommend. Great book!

Gripping and engaging throughout. This book was a great legal thriller, and would be a phenomenal "beach read".

Short but enjoyable read, it is very predictable in some areas but there are a few twists thrown in to shake things up farther than you'd imagine.

This was a terrific read. I honestly was not expecting much when I was that it was another celebrity-written book, but this work really stands out. It had great suspense. I loved the characters. The mystery was very well done. I would highly recommend. It is not your garden variety legal thriller.

When I started, I honestly thought it sounded so generic. Everything felt pretty predictable. Unpopular girl returns home successful. Former quarterback suddenly interested in her. Deadbeat with a bad rep but a heart of gold. Gay best friend. I was not excited in the very beginning to finish this novel. However, as the story progressed I really enjoyed it. She mixed legal thriller with mystery and murder with twists and turns that made you work to keep up. There are intricacies she added to a familiar story that made the plot a lot more complicated than I expected. The story and action proceeded pretty quickly and I couldn't stop reading because I wanted to know how the mystery turned out. While I think there were some inconsistencies, this novel was definitely fast-paced and fun to read.

I found Bonfire rather slow to begin with. This bonfire took a while to get crackling, but by the time it was roaring, I found myself settling in, really enjoying myself. The book is written in the first person present tense point of view of Abby. The narrative helps us see the small-town world of Barrens, where everyone knows each other, and only a few dare escape. The very name inspired visions of a dead-end where nothing got better. No wonder most people were so unwilling to offend Optimal. The plot was well crafted, meticulously drawing the past into the present, tying up loose ends, cleverly and sensitively. At first it seemed to be all about environmental violations, but then there were tensions, emotional entanglements, and deceit that crept in and the plot got thicker. There is something about Abby that makes her want to take dangerous decisions, ignore her gut feel, and choose the dangerous option. She is a conflicted person. She ran away from Barrens yet ended up returning, doing the exact opposite of what she wanted to do. As a person she seems weak, but as a lawyer, she is skilled, tenacious. She digs in, reading up on old news, about investigations and complaints, payoffs and bribes. In time, I began to like Abby, for her perceptiveness, for the fact that she was always an outsider. On the fringe of things, bullied, unloved even at home, by a father who couldn’t see beyond his religion, and a mother who couldn’t because she was dying. The author does not feel compelled to wave a magic wand and make everything well for Abby. There is no happy-ever-after for Abby, but there is a reconciliation, an understanding, a sense of peace.

I read this book as a part of the Penguin 'First to Read' program and I finished it within a matter of days. As a fan of the author and her acting work, I was definitely intrigued from the beginning to learn about her writing style and the kind of topic she would tackle in her first novel. The title is a bit wonky to me because it has less to do with the plot than other more applicable words, but I see it as a good choice because it doesn't really give away any part of the story before you want it to. Ritter's novel is a work that initially reminds me of "Erin Brockovich" but with a small-town high school reunion twist. Without spoiling anything, I would say one of the more appealing aspects of the book is that it doesn't have a happy ending. 4.5/5

3/5 Stars. This is an okay novel. I like Ritter's writing style, however the story itself was somewhat generic. I was very interested from the beginning and was curious about how the plot was going to unfold, but as the story progressed my interest started to wane. The plot became very predictable and I was somewhat annoyed by the character's obsession with Kaycee Mitchell, though I understand why it was necessary. I don't know that I would recommend this to my friends, however I do think I would read another book from her.

This book took me a whole month to read! That is crazy. That is absurd. It was not long in any way but still....a month. I will admit that was partly due to library books I needed to read, but also due to the way this book read in the beginning. I enjoyed the book and the story as a whole, but the beginning of it was just so hard to get through. I found it kind of drawn out and boring, but very interesting at the same time. This is about Abby Williams, a Chicago lawyer who goes back home to a small town in Indiana to work on a case against a big-time plastics manufacturer called Optimal. It is during this case that she begins to uncover a conspiracy that involves many former classmates and her former best friend's disappearance. This is a mystery/thriller that you definitely should give a read. As a big fan of Krysten Ritter, I was so happy to hear she wrote a thriller and hope she has more in the works because I would love to read even more from her.

I loved this book. I couldn't put it down. The underlying mystery paired with the self-discovery of the protagonist made the book interesting. I have long been a fan of Krysten Ritter as an actress. I look forward to reading more of her books.

Ritter has written an engaging and fast-paced thriller that I could not put down. I was pleasantly surprised at how well-written it was. I really hope to see more books from her in the future.

4.25 Stars ? I was impressed with Krysten Ritter's debut novel. I'm kind of out of touch with TV & movies, so I didn't realize the author was an actor until finishing. I quickly grabbed this title when I saw it was suspense and didn't pay much attention to the blurb. Anyway, I enjoyed it. Abby Williams is an environmental lawyer who's returned to her tiny hometown to investigate possible contamination by a plastics company with a whole lot of influence in Barrens, Indiana. Abby hasn't been home in ten years, not since her friend-turned-bully disappeared just after graduation. Barrens is full of bad memories for Abby, but her relationship with the town and people in it is unresolved, which is why this troubling pollution case is important to her. I liked the author's writing style and her ability to hook me with her flawed and not-so-likable characters. The overall atmosphere of the book is dark and foreboding, perfect for this gripping mystery/suspense. Looking forward to more from Krysten Ritter.

Guys, I've got to be totally honest: I expected almost NOTHING from this book. I mean, a novel written by an actor? When was the last time you read one of those books that wasn't ghostwritten that was worth its salt? So I cracked this one open fully anticipating writing a scathing review. I have a ton of crow to eat, don't I? Bonfire follows the story of Abby Williams, an environmental lawyer, who tries to get to the bottom of an environmental contamination case in her small hometown. This book is full of real, compelling characters (not necessarily likable, but that's not a bad thing.) Coupled with a page-turner of a mystery, and Bonfire really shines. It was such a fun read for me! I'd definitely recommend it.

Strangely gripping. You don't like any of the characters which makes it real, but you do want to know what happens. This caught my interest from the first page to the last.

I think the book took a little while to get into. It started out pretty slow and I wasn't sure I was going to continue it. But it picked up a little later. The plot was cool. Ritter is a good writer and I hope she writes more!

Bonfire was a surprise. It struggles but comes out a winner at the end. Krysten Ritter does her job of keeping you rooting for Abby and finding the truth with her writing. Bonfire rang close to my heart due to the the fact of our female protagonist being an Environmental Lawyer. We have Abby on a quest to come to peace with her past by trying to find out if the waters in her hometown our contaminated. Bonfire was a bit difficult to get into in the beginning but halfway through and in that last quarter my interest was heightened. Bonfire is that type of thriller/fiction with which I always seem to struggle in explaining how I felt about it. There are books that you just can't seem to review even though you Iike them. That you cant seem to put into words. And I always tend to leave a haphazard review for those books. Gah. I liked Bonfire. I liked Krysten's writing style. I didn't really like her characters but I still felt for them. Rating: ???????? Celebrities writing books always has me wary. And I always expect them to write nonfiction. And there is also this nagging worry of these books being ghost written. Youtube has seriously done a number on me. But Bonfire did increase my faith for other celebs writing fiction. Special thanks to FirsttoRead/Netgalley and the Publishers for this review copy.

Fun fact: I love, love, love Krysten Ritter. I mean, Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23?! Seriously, one of the funniest shows ever! I've watched each episode a million times but I still find them hilarious. Anyhow, when I hear that Krysten was releasing her debut book, I was BEYOND excited; however, I will admit that I was a bit weary. I love Krysten as an actress but could I love her as a writer? That's the question I had hanging around in my head prior to starting Bonfire. As it turns out? Bonfire managed to 100% WOW me! Not only was the storyline suspenseful and intricate but also the writing was rich and enveloping. Basically, I was hooked from the first word until the very last. One of my favorite parts of Bonfire was the characters. They were complex and an interesting mix, or medium, between likable and unlikable - complicated I guess is the best way to describe them. Abby Williams, the narrator, is the prime example of this. When we're first introduced to Abby, she's not looking forward to returning to her hometown; however, a small part of her wants to go back, to show everyone that she isn't the meek, shy girl she used to be. I feel that the feelings Abby felt were representative of anyone returning to their hometown under a guise of mixed feelings. It was interesting to see how Abby fit back into her old small town, mixing with the town's golden boy, the former mean girls, and the class burnout. It caused for her to experience a wide amount of character growth, and while some of her decisions, especially in regards to the town's biggest mystery, caused frustration, I was still always dying to know what she would do next, and more importantly, what it would mean for Abby's future. When I first saw the cover for Bonfire I was expecting an intense read, and that's exactly what I received. What I loved the most about the plot was how intricate it was. There was corruption, mysteries involving the town's beloved factory and former it-girl, and even a rebirth of sorts in the case of Abby. I don't want to say too much about the plot as it's something you just need to experience for yourself. But I will say I loved it. It kept me on my toes. It shocked me time and time again. Some parts of it were hard to handle, but given the stunning, well written way in which Krysten presented the tale it was well worth it. In all, Bonfire is a spectacular read! Krysten has become not only a favorite actress of mine but now a favorite author as well. I simply can't wait to see what she writes next!

I found the basic premise of this book interesting .... an environmental lawyer returns to her small hometown to investigate possible industrial contamination by the company that basically runs the town. The company controls almost all aspects of the community....its money and power have touched nearly every aspect of life in Barrens, Indiana. Abby Williams had no idea going in what a huge powder keg of a case she was taking on.....or what danger could be ahead for her. Not to mention the ties to the disappearance of her friend all those years ago. I knew this story would be exciting, but I wasn't prepared for how easily the story sucked me in. I couldn't put the book down until I knew what was going on. Great suspense, nice plot twists and a wickedly evil story! This is a must-read for people who enjoy suspense thrillers!

After completing this book, I think it’s safe to say that my reading slump has finally come to an end. I devoured Krysten Ritter’s debut novel, Bonfire, with a hunger I haven’t felt in months. If you take into account that I’m from a small town of a whopping fifteen hundred people, it’s easier to realize how much I am able to relate to the main character of this book, Abigail Williams. That, and Ritter hits on some nostalgia too, because in a way, Bonfire reads like Erin Brokovich meets Sweet Home Alabama, with distinctly darker notes. Character development plays a vital role in how a book turns out. If your cast is too flat, it makes the book a total bore. On the other hand, if you’ve got characters that are dynamic and, in the case of several individuals in Bonfire, two-faced, the book is far more likely to entertain. In this area, Ritter has excelled at creating that small-town feel with many of the types of people those living in small towns meet. Let’s face it, even with Abigail moving to Chicago, there’s always those people who get out. Sometimes they come back, sometimes they’re gone for good. (In my case, I chose to come back.) Plotwise, Ritter keeps the ball rolling. I didn’t feel like the story was dragging at any point. In fact, it’s the way that the story continues to unfold that kept me up until three this morning finishing it. Bonfire plays host to a story within a story, taking the corrupt corporations one step beyond contamination and into a far deeper, far worse crime. Just when things appear over, an entirely new turn keeps the story going. I won’t lie: I nearly bawled last night while I finished reading it. There is only one aspect of this book that truly miffed me, and it sorta deals with the romance aspect. As many of my readers know, I abhor romance plots. Especially those that seem forced, rather than natural. That said, I really don’t want to divulge any spoilers, but I will say this: for being such a strong, independent character, there are some actions that Abigail Williams takes in this book that simply aren’t natural. They feel incredibly forced and out of character, and I can’t help but think it’s there more as a cop-out for the final twist in the story than going about it in some other clever manner. That said, after finishing Bonfire, I feel it is safe to say that this debut novel is worth reading. Initially, I nearly forgot I had it until I saw it was one of the options for this month’s Book of the Month Club. Considering I’m very particular, I almost chose it before realizing I already had it technically. So if you’re wanting to pick it up cheap, there you go. (I’m actually still debating grabbing it through Book of the Month Club myself, because hey! I loved it.) I would like to thank Penguin’s First to Read program for providing me with a copy of this book for the purpose of unbiased review.

Pretty good debut! I was a fan of Krysten Ritter's prior to reading the book and I was admittedly hesitant to read it, lest my bias clouds my judgement. I can happily say that this novel held it's own. While the basic story isn't really anything new, it held my attention from start to finish. Other than some minor pacing issues (which honestly were probably just due to me really wanting to find out what really happened to Kaycee), I think it was decently plotted and well-written. I hope Krysten Ritter continues writing more books because with practice, I think she could be a stellar writer.

I'm a huge fan of Krysten Ritter as an actor, and so I was very excited to see she was writing a book and jumped at the chance when it became available on First to Read through Penguin. I immediately liked the character of Abby because I felt her personality and challenges were realistic. I think a lot of readers will be able to relate to her struggles with coming home to a small town from a big city and dealing with family and high school friends/acquaintances that are still in town. I enjoyed seeing her connect with those people and see how things have changed. I wasn't a huge fan of the Optimal Plastics plot line, because I didn't see how it was important to the story until towards the end when things were coming together more. Overall I enjoyed the book and liked the writing style, but I didn't feel like it had an interesting perspective of thriller/suspense genre. For someone that reads this type of book frequently, I didn't feel that it would offer anything unique to separate itself from other books.

What a fabulous read. This is my favorite genre and this book didn’t disappoint

Ritter is the kind of writer whose work you wish you could bottle, to binge on frequently and until you are lost to it, much as her character, Abby, does on alcohol. If you are a lover of the legal thriller/mystery/suspense genre you will not be disappointed in any measure. Ritter's writing is taunt and crisp, making it easy to imagine both the scene of the action and the relentless pasts of her characters. Here's to a new writer to be addicted to!

I just couldn't get through it. I'm sure it picked up later but the beginning was too... amateur-ish. Maybe if I read it under the pretense of it being a YA book, I would've been had the proper expectation and appreciated it more.

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter was an amazing debut thriller where the past and present collide for Abby Williams, an environmental lawyer. Abby couldn't wait to get out of her hometown, Barrens, so she moved to Chicago to forget what and who she left behind. When her job gives her the task of investigating Optimal Plastics, she is thrust back into the memories of her old life and physically back to a town she never wanted to see again. Plagued with the disappearance and mystery of Kaycee Mitchell from ten years ago, Abby believes there is a connection to what is happening now with Optimal Plastics, but she doesn't realize how deep it really goes. With twists and turns and well-developed characters, this suspenseful novel will keep you turning the pages.

4.5 stars. Bonfire by Krysten Ritter is a superb debut mystery about an investigation into whether or not a rural town’s beloved savior, Optimal Plastics, is poisoning the towns’ residents. Ten years ago, Abby Williams could not leave Barrens, Indiana fast enough. Ten years later, she is returning to help investigate claims that the town’s largest employer and benefactor is responsible for polluting the water supply. She must also face many of her demons: memories of the horrible bullying she endured throughout high school, her former best friend turned nemesis Kaycee Mitchell’s disappearance and her relationship with her estranged father. While not much has changed in her absence, there are a few surprises awaiting Abby as she discovers her father is almost unrecognizable due to his frail health and the biggest mean girl from her past, Misha Dale Jennings, is the assistant principal of their alma mater. She is also still drawn her high school crush Brent O’Connell, but she cannot deny her attraction to former bad boy, Dave Condor. With her best friend and co-worker, Joe Carter at her side, Abby and the rest of the team meet plenty of opposition as they begin their investigation of Optimal Plastics. Abby must face the ghosts of her past right from the minute she arrives in town. She runs into Misha right away and while distrustful, she immediately experiences doubts that her memories of their shared past are accurate. She does not let her confusion get in the way of her job and despite the community’s lack of co-operation, she is undeterred as she tries to get to the truth about Optimal. Help from an unexpected ally proves to be instrumental in her investigation and Abbby slowly but surely begins to unearth very troubling details about the company. She also interviews a crucial witness whose information is eerily reminiscent of an unsavory game that destroyed many of her classmates’ reputations during high school. While Joe wants Abby to concentrate on events occurring in the present, Abby cannot shake her conviction that much of what is happening now is inexplicably connected to the things that happened in the past. Certain that locating Kaycee Mitchell will provide her with the answers she is searching for, Abby is undeterred as she tries to locate the missing woman. Abby is initially professional and focused on the task at hand, but the darkness from her past quickly engulfs her. Unable to shake off her disturbing memories, her drinking soon spirals out of control and she begins making some very questionable decisions that could jeopardize their investigation. Abby must also deal with an unexpected situation with her father while her efforts to efforts to unearth the truth about Optimal lead to a jaw-dropping discovery. Bonfire is a riveting mystery with a well-developed, topical storyline. Abby is a flawed but sympathetic protagonist who quickly discovers the only way to rid herself of her demons is to face them head on. Krysten Ritter brings this remarkable debut to an action-packed conclusion that is ultimately quite healing for Abby. Fans of the genre will enjoy this engaging, fast-paced mystery.

Abby Williams, after leaving her hometown shortly after high school graduation, returns to supposedly spearhead an environmental case in what is basically a company town. But that isn't really why. She went home to figure out what happened to her school mate and face her own demons. The fact that she kept trying to tell herself that she was there for work was distracting from the real story. I think Ms. Ritter tried to include too many diverse plots into one book and would have enjoyed it more if the plot was a bit more streamlined with some of the great concepts saved for the next book.

I really enjoyed Bonfire. I think it was a great legal thriller/mystery. It was interesting to see how Abby was affected by her past and seeing her try to resolve old feelings when she had to return for work. I really enjoyed how they explored her new relationship with her father. Bonfire kept me engaged in the storyline, but the ending was too predictable. I think it was a great book for a first time author and I will be curious to see if Krysten Ritter writes anything else.

3.5 legal thriller stars.....this book kept me gripped to find out the mystery but defies classification which left me a bit confused.

I enjoyed this book. 3 stars.

I enjoyed this one quite a bit. It was suspenseful and decently crafted. I liked Abby very much as a character. This is a well done first outing.

I liked this book and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it!! I found "Bonfire" a little hard to get into but once I did I couldn't put it down. Krysten Ritter did a great job building the main character, Abby, and I found myself rooting for her. Great first book.

"Bonfire" by Krysten Ritter is an engaging read for the "Jessica Jones" star’s first novel. In this "Mean Girls" meets "Erin Brockovich" thriller, Abby Williams returns to her hometown of Barrens, Indiana as an environmental lawyer working on a case involving Optimal, a corporate giant that is taking over the town and possibly contaminating the air and water. Besides battling Optimal, whom most people think saved their town economically, Abby is confronting her tormented past with “friends” from high school, one who’s been missing for years, and a dysfunctional relationship with her ailing father. A worthy suspense thriller that is a quick, easy, and entertaining read. Four stars out of five.

Steeped in foreboding tension, BONFIRE is a tale of a former bullying victim, now returning home as an attorney with a national nonprofit to investigate alleged environmental hazards by the town’s only major employer. If only that was really the reason our heroine was returning home after a decade. She’s really there to solve a few mysteries that have plagued her since she was a victim and it’s hard to say what motivates her more. She’d like the answers to be the same, but what if they aren’t. She’s also adept at self abuse and that makes her voice somewhat unreliable as she pursues her own agenda. The story is quite dark at times and the resolution isn’t entirely satisfying. But the author does a good job of telling her tale and it is well worth reading.

Abby Williams thought she had left her small town in her past. Now she is back and investigating the largest employer in the town that has saved the town from extinction. But past and present keep overlapping and what she thought was true about the past just might be totally wrong. Lots of twists and lots of suspense all build up to an explosive ending.

I like this book but did not love it. The storyline was good and somewhat reminded me of the movie "Fire Down Below". The story was a little to dragged out in several spots from my point of view. All in all I would recommend this book to a fan of crime suspense.

I enjoyed this book a lot and would definitely read more from Krysten Ritter. She's excellent at conjuring a real sense of place. Very atmospheric. Abby, the main character, was flawed but sympathetic. Lots of good twists and turns and misdirection galore. The ending felt a bit rushed but it was satisfying. 4.5/5.

It was a very atmospheric read. A truly compelling debut from a well known actress. Not an incredibly unique synopsis, however really well done. The character development was done admirably. The story itself drew the reader in almost immediately. The main character, Abby, was one we all wanted to root for. The ending was done tastefully with the right amount of suspense. Really enjoyed this novel. Might re-read again. 4.5/5

What an amazing book! I love Krysten Ritter, mystery/thrillers, and environmental justice. This book was the perfect storm at the intersection of three things I really enjoy. Glad it lived up to the hype and the twists were definitely unpredictable. I can't wait for this to hit the shelves, so I can readily recommend it to my reading buddies!

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter Star Rating: ????? 5/5 stars Format: ebook galley Summary: Abby Williams returns to her hometown for the first time in ten years. She's there on business, as an environmental lawyer she's looking into the local plastics company based in her hometown. Mysteries from her past resurface and she begins fixating on what happened back in high school. Review: I received a advanced copy of this book from First to Read for review. I was interested to read this when I heard that Krysten Ritter had written a thriller. I really like her as an actress so I was curious how her novel turned out. I actually really liked this book and thought it was really good. There were a lot of really great twists, the main focus of the book changes and deep dark secrets of the town come to light. A couple twists I saw coming but there things I did not see coming to light at all until it did. It was really well crafted. I liked the characters a lot, they had depth and were interesting. The main character is great, I liked her a lot. She had a lot of deep-seated issues that she tries to deal with. I liked that she wanted to try to do the right thing by people that hadn't even been nice to her in high school, who had actually tortured her. The language in this was really lovely. There were so many lines that I saved, some of the metaphors were just wonderful. I wish I had a finished and final version of this book to be able to share some of my favorite quotes because there were quite a few. Unfortunately the book is not released until the beginning of November. This was such a wonderful debut novel, it's fast paced and had me hooked from the start. It's very engaging which is great. It was really different than other thrillers that I've read before which I really enjoyed. It handles some really heavy topics and I think it does so well. Recommendation: I really enjoyed this book. I think it's different than a lot of thrillers and a great read. Definitely check it out.

My thoughts on this book are not swayed by the fact that this book is written by an actor. In fact, I hold the same standards to celebrity authors as I do other authors. Having said this, I thought that Ms. Ritter did a good job of writing this book. I liked the concept for the story. There was something ominous about what was happening to people in town as well as what happened to Kaycee. Yet, I felt like the story needed a bigger punch. Being a fan of Jessica Jones, I was hoping and wanting this book to be as dark and gritty as the television show that Ms. Ritter stars in. This same thing goes for Abby. She seemed to act like she was still in highschool where she was the follower and not the leader. However, I did get glimpses of promise and where Ms. Ritter was going with this story. With a little more polish, I expect that the next book will be better. I look forward to seeing and reading more from Ms. Ritter.

Bonfire is exactly that. A conflagration of plot, twisted characters, flawed protagonists, and small town secrets that have serious teeth. This book was excellent from start to finish with a wildly compelling ending that had me devouring the final pages.

*I read this book for free through the First to Read program.* Like I imagine many people will be, I was drawn to Bonfire because its author, Krysten Ritter, has starred in a lot of my favorite TV shows. It turns out that, in addition to being an actor, she's also a pretty good author. Bonfire is the story of Abby Williams, an environmental lawyer returning to her hometown to investigate a plastics company and hoping to put to rest the demons of her past. The first part of the book is more of a slow burn that seems to focus mainly on Abby's feelings about coming home. The investigation is certainly a part of the story, but it often seems like an excuse for her to come in contact with figures from her past. The second part of the book, however, was more of a typical thriller. A few of the story elements were a little far fetched, and some moments, particularly the ending, veered towards the cliché. However, I found both parts of the story enjoyable. I don't think Bonfire is necessarily a must read, but it's a fun thriller I'm glad to have read.

Bonfire had a great plot line, characters that could evoke an emotional connection, with twists and turns that made this a very engaging. Abby is a strong central character that is made very real through her less than perfect life and hidden secrets. I look forward to reading other books from this offer. Thanks for the chance to read it first!

First I wanted to read Bonfire, because I love love Krysten Ritter as actress and as a knitting human. But than I got to read her debut novel and it just blew me away! Honestly this is a really good book. The book get's you really fast and didn't let go of you. The plot fastens up really fast and you may get a glimpse of what will happen, but than it will come out different than you thought. And I loved that in a book! Also the character building is really nice. You can feel the emptiness inside Abby and all the other emotions towards the other characters. It's just totaly addicting! And I can and will recommend this book to whoever will listen! I really hope there are more books to come from her.

Krysten Ritter did an incredible job with this novel. The characters were well developed and I could easily picture them. The plot line flowed well and I couldn't put this book down. The mystery was not easily solved. I appreciate the complexity of this novel and would definitely recommend this story to others.

Received a complimentary copy of this book from First to Read. I read half of this book in the first sitting. The story was very compelling. Many themes ran through the book-dysfunctional families, parental loss, bullying mean girls, corporate greed. The author was able to tie this all together to tell a good story. Does it have an Erin Brockovich feel? Yes, but, the other themes woven through the story made it very intriguing. Author did a great job tying it all together. The characters were well developed so you understood their personalities. Definitely recommend this book.

It's "Erin Brockovich" meets "Pretty Little Liars" with a bit of "The Dry" by Jane Harper thrown in which means: it's very good. Abby Williams is going back home to Barrens, Indiana. Now an environmental lawyer, she's helping investigate Optimal Plastics, a big company that's pulled Barrens back from the brink of destruction and given as much as it has taken. Abby has to figure out whether recent health issues residents are experiencing are part of Optimal's problem or natural occurrences. The case brings back old memories of her school days in the small town of only about 5,000 and her mistreatment at the hand of the popular girls, one of whom -Kaycee Mitchell- has gone missing since then. Has she run off? Abby isn't sure but thinks so because Kaycee and her friends also were faking an illness that they say affected them when they were in school. Abby wonders if maybe with the new health crisis in her old hometown they were not faking it after fact, Kaycee might have been a casualty to keep that secret. As she remembers the painful schooldays she left behind and deals with her Alzheimer's affected father, Abby realizes that not much has changed and wonders if coming back home even for a good cause was the right thing to do. But the more she stays, the more she realizes that behind the new and shiny buildings Optimal has put up, horrible secrets are lying beneath their exterior and an ugly case of extortion called "The Game" that was a part of her upbringing has gotten uglier and more widespread with a trail that just might lead to Abby into danger. Ritter, best known for her acting career, has a terrific debut on her hands. The novel opens slowly and moves that way until the secrets start coming back to light for Abby and then you'll find a novel that's right on par with Paul Hawkins ('The Girl on the Train') and Ruth Ware ('The Lying Game'). A good suspense thriller that's next in line to be the next thing to read.

*I received a complimentary copy of Bonfire by Krysten Ritter from First to Read in exchange for my honest review.* Now that I've finished the book, I can say that I enjoyed the content. It was a smart concept, one that I wasn't expecting. And while the details came together at the end, to me, they felt forced through out the book. Being a fan of Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones, I ended up reading the book the way her character talks, blunt and succinct. But sometimes it felt too disjointed. And because of that, it took me until half way through the book to really enjoy it. I'd give the book three stars. The writing wasn't my favorite, but the plot was excellent.

What a great fast paced novel! In the beginning it did have that Erin Brockovich feel to it but soon took on a plot of it's own. I could not put it down. The twists and turns while Abby figures out the truth kept me interested. I would definitely recommend. Thanks First To Read for my advance copy!

Great story! Reading environmental fiction isn't usually what I go for. I'm reading this book thinking "Erin Brockovich" at points. However, the writing was very good (I found myself chuckling at some of the descriptive writing) and the plot was engaging. I couldn't quiet decide if I thought the main character was imagining things or was really on to something until the end ... although I really wanted to believe that she was going to solve the mystery of this town's past. Great read, I'd definitely recommend.

*I received a complimentary copy of Bonfire by Krysten Ritter from First to Read in exchange for my honest review* I have to admit... I was skeptical at first. I love Krysten Ritter as an actress and I was genuinely curious if her tenacity would translate well into authorship. From that regard, I think she did an absolutely fine job and all in all, I enjoyed the book. It took me about 100 pages before I felt fully invested and until I reached that point, I had a hard time picking it up and continuing. One of my favorite aspects was the multiple storylines and the way the story weaved and blurred past and present. Also, in the beginning, it felt like the story was heading in one predictable direction but ultimately became something so much bigger and more encompassing. I loved that the book was relevant to our current climate, about how corporate greed knows no bounds and the lengths that people will go once wrapped up in that greed with no regard for who they hurt or exploit in the process. The characters for the most part were well-fleshed out and informed, though it was hard to sympathize with any of them -- Abby included -- and her descriptions of places and people were incredibly thoughtful. Overall, the book was an easy to read, well-paced thriller.

A great read. I truly enjoyed this book. It was a great debut and I loved the ebb and flow of the story. I look forward to hopefully reading more from Ms.Ritter. The story took me for a loop and I enjoyed the ride.

This was a prominent debut, but the story reminded me a movie (Erin Brockovich), it's for that reason that I didn't enjoy it, on the other hand I truly believe that Abby didn't have common sense, is an incongruous main character. Is a perfect easy read but nothing memorable.

I read about 3/4 of this book in one night and if that doesn't tell you something about how engrossed I was in the book I don't know what does (I did have a cold and was in bed, but that was just a great excuse to lie there). To start with I thought I was just going to get a 'mean girls' novel, and then there were echoes of 'Erin Brockovich' and the Flint, MI water crisis playing out. But then came the layers of the main main character's insecurities, neuroses, the relationship with her dying father, and her memories of a town she wants to leave in the dust. Abby Williams becomes obsessed with getting to the bottom of the disappearance of her old 'frenemy' Kaycee Mitchell, and amid a wash of alcohol, and a haze of a past she wants to forget, she starts to forget that she actually came back to Barrens to look into the corruption that has overtaken the town care of the company Optimal. But somehow it all comes together for Abby and the reader, all in one fell swoop. I actually didn't find myself trying to guess what was coming next in the story, but I was taken seamlessly through Abby's moods, her painful flaws, her moments of madness and sadness, and through to the conclusion, without skipping a beat. The only thing I could have done without was the occasional confusing 'semi-intimate' moments with guys who wouldn't have given Abby the time of day back in high school, but I suppose she actually really was the one who was confused. 'Luckily' these transgressions end up serving her well, to some degree. Small-town America looks as depressing to me as most novels would have it, and I was left with the wretched smell of bonfire smoke in my nostrils after reading this, BUT an entirely satisfied feeling of having read Krysten's debut novel. Krysten is a natural-born writer and I will hurriedly reach for her next one. I enjoyed the book thoroughly. Bravo!

In many ways, this book has everything I look for in a novel: a smart, independent young woman whose flaws still make her relatable for those of us who are trying to find our own path; hidden secrets from the past; a touch of romance; and a larger mystery -- this one also bringing in a bit of Erin Brockovich style environmental justice. The writing had a nice flow, the dialogue seemed all too real for those of us who have had the experience of returning back to our small hometown. The poetic inner dialogue and the incorporation of certain themes, such as the crows and the notion of drowning, the remembrance/lack of remembrance of past events brought the text onto another level that rose above your average mystery paperback. I got through about 3/4 of the text within one day because I couldn't put it down. Around that point, something shifted in the book that caused my interest to wane slightly, though I was still eager to get to the end. Overall, I found the ending to be pretty predictable- it was clear to me from the foreshadowing who was behind it all and so there wasn't much of a twist. I enjoyed this novel but was slightly disappointed by the ending - it seemed to move at a good pace at the beginning but started dragging near the end.

Teenagers can be ruthless, brutal people as they assert themselves and find their place in the world. The quest for power and money in Krysten Ritter's Bonfire demonstrates how far some are willing to go to satisfy their desires.  Having happily left her hometown of Barrens, Indiana for Chicago, Abby Williams has spent the last ten years removing traces of her former self and life to build a successful career as an environmental lawyer. But when a case brings her back to Barrens to investigate the town's central economic benefactor, Optimal Plastics, Abby's former life comes rushing back with a vengeance; Abby finds connections between current events and those from her high school years when her former best friend Kaycee presented symptoms of poisoning and was subsequently thought to have run away rather than admitting that she and her friends were faking being sick for attention and a potential payout. Piecing together her case against Optimal by prodding at their weak spots helps Abby to assemble her scattered memories to finally realize and come to terms with Kaycee's fate.  Navigating between current events and recollections of life in Barrens ten years previously the narrative establishes tenuous threads between the past and the present to drive Abby's investigation to develop a strong case against Optimal. Though there was much in the story that was rather well-written, there were aspects of the narrative that felt rather choppy, and as a result were confusing; although it could be argued that as it was written in the first person the choppy nature to Abby's recollection of events reflects her obsession with the symptoms she's intent on proving were real in her childhood friend Kaycee. The obsessive tendencies and bad choices that Abby makes throughout the story make her difficult to connect with and I found her a pathetic and frustrating character.   Overall, I'd give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

Krysten Ritter is a woman of many talents! Her first foray into fiction is a fun thriller - a sexier, edgier Erin Brockovich, if not quite as satisfying. The main character is on a quest back to her hometown to point the finger at corporate water giant Optimal, who may or may not be poisoning the town's reservoir. The tangled subplots are in turns riveting, moving, and then terribly convoluted. The writing is good enough, and the story is at least entertaining, but the Ritter-esque heroine is often frustrating and unlikeable - completely unlike any Ritter-esque heroine before her! There are quite a few "black out drunk" moments, which felt like cop-outs and left unsatisfying holes in the narrative. I'd pick up another Ritter-penned manuscript, but I'll temper my expectations next time.

*I received a complimentary copy of Bonfire by Krysten Ritter from Penguine's First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.* Bonfire is a riveting, suspense novel set in the small town of Barrens, Indiana. Ten years after high school graduation, Abigail Williams, an attorney practicing environmental law in Chicago, returns to her hometown of Barrens to investigate claims of water contamination by a corporate entity. Ritter weaves together a complex storyline centered on the present day pollution investigation and the ten year mystery of her former friend turned enemy running away from Barrens in the wake of what others claimed was a made up scandal of illness. The more that Abigail investigates the current pollution case the more she realizes that everything is connected in a small town. Themes of political corruption, corporate payoffs, and the health consequences of environmental waster are all explored in this thrilling novel. Ritter describes the small of Barrens with such depth and perception and eloquently portrays the pitfalls of returning to a small town after spending years away and confronting the demons never faced. Abigail is forced to encounter old enemies and foes while also coming to terms with her personal experiences of bullying and self-image issues realizing that the cycle has continued with current students of the town high school. Abigail must navigate the complicated waters of family and the realization that, with wisdom and experience from age, our viewpoints on past events change as well. From the moment I began reading Bonfire, I was immersed in the storyline and constantly guessing at the outcome. The plot twists were perfectly timed and I was enamored up to the last few pages. I thoroughly enjoyed Bonfire and found it unputdownable. Suspense and mystery fans will definitely enjoy this well-timed novel as well as anyone who understands the complexities of growing up in a small town while also trying to survive high school.

***I received a complimentary copy of BONFIRE from First to Read in exchange for my honest review *** Ten years after high school graduation, Abby Williams returns to her hometown to investigate environmental concerns at a local water plant. Now a lawyer, she feels more like the bullied teenager she left behind when she encounters former classmates who may or may not know more than they are saying. Actress Krysten Ritter proves her talents aren’t limited to in front of the camera in her debut novel. Abby drinks too much and sticks up for herself too little as past and present combine in her small hometown. She’s haunted by her frienemy Kaycee, who left town amid scandal of a made up illness. If my former friend turned bully had killed my dog and rubbed my face in it, the last thing I would feel for her is empathy, no matter what her circumstance, but Abby is both drawn to and repelled by Kaycee. Ritter’s writing style kept me turning pages after bedtime and while the plot was a at times unbelievable, it was never boring. BONFIRE has cross appeal for teens and adults.

I couldn't put this book down once I started reading it. Krysten Ritter wrote a book full of action, suspense, and a strong female character, Abby Williams. Don't start this book unless you have enough time to finish it before getting a good night's sleep. There were so many narratives to carry the drama and mystery: high school mean girls, corporate intrigue, environmental waste and illness, corrupt politicians, and a small Indiana town obliged to rely upon the largesse of one corporation. Krysten Ritter burned the pages of this book with action, and this is what a thriller should read like. This is a strong, well written debut novel with snappy dialogue and meticulous descriptions of settings. Abby Williams is no shrinking violet when it comes to justice yet she is flawed and has some self destructive behaviors. I didn't always like Abby, but I still cared about her as a character. This is a book I will definitely recommend to my friends.


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