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Ink and Bone

Ink and Bone

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Ink and Bone

ratings:
4/5 (90 ratings)
Length:
434 pages
7 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jun 7, 2016
ISBN:
9781501101663
Format:
Book

Description

In this explosive psychological thriller by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger, a young woman’s mysterious gift lands her in the middle of a dangerous investigation of a little girl’s disappearance.

For as long as she can remember, twenty-year-old Finley Montgomery has been able to see into the future: dream about things before they happen, see beyond the physical world, and unconsciously make supernatural things happen. But Finley can’t control these powers, and moves to The Hollows to live with her grandmother, a renowned seer who can help Finely understand and master her gifts. But once in The Hollows, Finley’s gift proves to be both a blessing and a curse.

Like Finley, Merri and Wolf Montgomery are in the worst possible hell. Their daughter Abbey has been missing for ten months. Leads exhausted, the police have all but given up hope; but Merri is unable to shake the feeling that time is running out, and makes a desperate, last ditch effort to locate her daughter.

Finley and Merri are on winding, treacherous paths towards the same point. When they finally come together in The Hollows, nothing is as it seems. But one thing is clear: The Hollows always gets what it wants.
Publisher:
Released:
Jun 7, 2016
ISBN:
9781501101663
Format:
Book

About the author

Lisa Unger is the NYT bestselling author of 17 novels. Her work has been published in 26 languages, with millions of readers worldwide. In 2019, she received 2 Edgar Award nominations. Under My SKin is also a finalist for the Hammett Prize and Macavity Award. Her work has been voted "Best of the Year" or top picks by the Today show, GMA, EW, Amazon, IndieBound and many others. She has written for the NYT, WSJ, NPR, and Travel+Leisure. She lives in Florida with her family.


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Ink and Bone - Lisa Unger

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PROLOGUE

Daddy was on the phone, talking soft and low, dropping behind them on the path. Nothing new. He was always on the phone—or on the computer. Penny knew that her daddy loved her, but she also knew that he was almost never paying attention. He was busy, sweetie, or with a client, or just a minute, honey, Daddy’s talking to someone. He was a good storyteller, a bear-hugger, always opened his arms to her, lifted her high, or took her into his lap while he worked at his desk. Mommy couldn’t lift her anymore, but Daddy still could. She loved the feel of him, the smell of him. He was never angry, always funny. But sometimes she had to say his name like one hundred times before he heard her, even when she was right next to him.

Dad. Dad? Daddy!

Honey, you don’t have to yell.

How could you not hear someone who was right next to you?

If Mommy was out and Daddy was in charge, then she and her brother could: eat whatever they wanted (all you had to do was go into the kitchen and take it; he wouldn’t even notice); play on the iPad forever (he would never suggest that they read a book or play a game together); ride their plasma cars up and down the long hallway from the foyer to the living room. And it was only when they got too loud that he might appear in the doorway to his office and say: Hey, guys? Keep it down, okay?

He wasn’t even supposed to talk on his phone on the hike—which was his idea. As far as she was concerned, hikes were just walks that never seemed to end. A walk with nothing exciting—like ice cream or a movie—at the end of it. It was just so that they could be in nature—which was Daddy’s favorite place to be. And Mom wasn’t there, because it was their time to just be with Dad.

Don’t tell Mom, okay? he’d said, as he fished his phone out of his backpack.

She and her brother had exchanged a look. It made her uncomfortable when he asked her to keep things from her mom, because Mommy had made her promise never to keep secrets. She said: Anyone who asks you to keep a secret from your mom—a teacher, a friend, a stranger, anyone—is not looking out for you. No good person would ever ask you to do that.

She knew that her mom was talking about stranger danger and how people weren’t allowed to touch her body (ew!) or push drugs at her. Mommy hadn’t said anything about Daddy. She very badly wanted to ask: What if Daddy asks me to keep a secret? But she had a feeling that wouldn’t be a good idea.

So she and her brother walked ahead on the shady path, leaving Daddy trailing behind talking in a soft voice to someone. She couldn’t hear him and didn’t care anyway. When grown-ups talked to each other it was so boring. She didn’t understand their words, their tones, why—out of nowhere—they got angry at each other, started yelling. Or worse, got suddenly really quiet, not talking at all. Talking to each other in fake voices, then changing back to normal voices for her and her brother. Weird.

"Look, what do you want me to do?" Daddy said, his voice suddenly growing louder.

When she looked back at him, he glanced up at her quickly, then down at the ground again.

Come on, said her brother.

He took her by the hand, and they ran up the path. All around them the trees were thick and tall, the air clean and fresh. There were no horns and sirens, just the sweet songs of birds in the branches. The crunching dirt path beneath her sneakers felt so different than concrete. The ground was wobbly and soft; she had to watch her step. But the air filled her lungs. She imagined them inflating like balloons, lifting her up into the leaves.

Her friends—Sophia, Grace, Averi—they all hated their older brothers. Brothers who teased and made fun, who scared them and hit them when their parents weren’t looking, played innocent when their sisters cried. But her brother wasn’t like that. She loved her brother; he helped her build the Lego Hogwarts Castle she got for Christmas, let her sleep in his bed when she was scared during storms. When her mom wasn’t around (which wasn’t often), he was the next best thing. Always there. Always knew what to say, what to do. Not like Daddy, who she also loved. But Daddy didn’t know all the important things—like how she didn’t like jelly, only peanut butter, how you weren’t supposed to turn the lights all the way off at bedtime, just down really low on the dimmer, or that she wanted water only from the refrigerator, not from the faucet in the bathroom.

What are we doing? she asked her brother. She’d wanted to stay back with Mommy, but Daddy wouldn’t let her. Come on, kiddo. It’s our time to be together.

Hiking, her brother said.

"Hiking to where?" she said, leaning on the word.

Nowhere, he said. We’re just walking.

I’m tired, she said. And she was tired suddenly—she wasn’t just saying it so that they could go back to Mom. My tummy hurts.

She did say that sometimes, because that was an automatic let’s go home for her mom. Her dad didn’t pay attention; he knew she sometimes was faking because she was bored or uncomfortable. Just hang in there a little, okay? he’d say.

We’ll go back in a minute, her brother said now. Look at this.

It was a log that had fallen and was laying beside the path. "Remember that book: Bug Hotel—or something?" he said.

Oh yeah, that book about how when a log falls down, insects move in and find a home and help the log to decompose. Cool.

Her brother peeled back a wet brown layer of bark to reveal a congregation of tiny black beetles; she leaned in close to watch them move and shimmer, burrow into these little holes they’d made. She wasn’t a girly girl. She didn’t shriek about bugs the way her friends did. She reached her finger down, and one of them crawled onto her hand.

He likes me, she said.

She turned her hand and let the tiny bug scuttle up her wrist and onto the cuff of her long-sleeve tee-shirt. Her favorite shirt, with the owl on it. She wore it all the time even though a hole had worn under the arm and the hem was coming down in the back.

Her brother was inspecting the log. There was already a deep, long hollow, and her brother was crouched down peering inside. While he was looking inside, she heard the birdcall she’d been hearing, this kind of sweet song, with lots of notes. She’d never heard one like it. Birds usually just sounded like they were cheeping to her, especially in the city. But this bird was saying something, something important.

Once when she’d been walking past the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park, she saw a man nearby with a monocular pointed up at a tall apartment building.

What’s he looking at? she asked her daddy. The man had a table set up with brochures and photographs for sale. Her mommy would have said I don’t know and that would have been the end of it, because they would have been running to this thing or that thing and there wouldn’t be time to stop. But Daddy didn’t ever care as much about being on time, so they wandered over.

The man had white hair and a plaid cap and a very nice blue coat. He reminded her of her grandpa, how quiet and careful he was. He talked about the hawks and other wildlife that nested right in New York City.

Natural beauty is everywhere, he said. It finds a place for itself even right here. You just have to know where to look.

He let her daddy lift her up to the monocular, and the man adjusted the lens until it came into focus and she saw two fuzzy gray baby hawks in their nest, their beaks open, surrounding their mama, who was red with white feathers on her chest and who had alert, bright eyes. Penny watched, mesmerized, until her daddy said it was time to go. When she moved away from the monocular, she saw only the building again—except now with the small cluster of brown up high on a ledge. She never would have seen it. After that, she started noticing birds in the trees and always tried to listen to their songs. The squirrels that danced across branches in the park. A woodpecker one day. Her daddy even showed her an article about someone who’d woken up to find a wild turkey sitting on his balcony. What the old man with the monocular said, about knowing where to look, it stayed with her. He was right.

Before they’d left for the hike, Daddy had downloaded an app on his iPhone that would help them identify birdcalls. He also had the binoculars. She looked around at the leafy tops of the trees, shielding her eyes against the bright yellow light (was it ever this buttery yellow in the city?). She tried to catch a glimpse of the bird that was singing, but she couldn’t. She glanced back down the path—she wanted to show her daddy the log, to use the binoculars. Where was he?

"Where’s Dad?" she asked her brother, a little whiny.

A single echoing crack came in answer. Then a kind of cry, a fluttering of leaves. She turned to her brother, who she could tell had heard it, too, because he was looking down the path toward where they had left their dad. The light shined on his white blond hair and turned the lenses of his round glasses weirdly golden.

What was that? she asked. He shook his head to say he didn’t know.

Dad? he called out. The birds had gone quiet. Louder: "Dad?"

When there was no answer, her brother said they should go back for him, so they did.

They walked back down the path, her brother taking the lead. She felt wobbly, a quiver in her stomach, tears threatening. She couldn’t even say why she was scared. What had they heard after all? Maybe nothing. They turned the corner to see the path empty. The rocky dirt surface was edged by trees that sloped down toward the river valley. It’s not that steep, her father had said. But you could still fall a good ways and hurt yourself. So be careful.

She was the first to hear the low moaning.

Daddy! she cried. "Daaaddddy!"

Kids! his voice was low and far away. He said something else, but she couldn’t hear what. They moved toward the sound, her brother edging toward the side of the path, looking down.

Stay back, her brother said. She pressed herself up against the trunk of a tree, feeling the rough bark through her shirt. Her father was still calling to them. It sounded like he was saying Get out of here! Run! But that couldn’t be right.

I see him, her brother said. He must have fallen. Dad, what happened?

Then another one of those strange echoing cracks. Her brother froze stiff, then grabbed his leg and started screaming, fell to the ground. It was a terrible sound, high-pitched and filled with fear. It connected to something deep and primal within her, and sheer terror rocketed through her, a lightning bolt. She heard herself shrieking, too, a sound that came from her and didn’t.

A black flower of blood bloomed on her brother’s thigh. He’d gone a frightening white, couldn’t stop screaming. It was a siren, loud and long, deafening. She wanted to cover her ears, to tell him to stop. Her father was yelling down below. Her name. Her brother’s name. Then a command as clear as day: Run!

She went to the edge of the path and saw her father lying among the trees, sloping downwards, arm looped around a slender birch trunk as if he was holding on, leg bent strangely. And then she saw the other man. Dressed in jeans and a flannel work shirt, heavy boots. He wore a baseball cap, the brim shadowing his face. In his arms he had a gun, long and black.

She froze, watching him. Her brother’s screaming had quieted; he was now whimpering behind her. Her father was yelling still. But she couldn’t move; she was so afraid, so confused, that her body just couldn’t move.

She heard something, a chiming. A little tinkle of bells. The phone. Her father’s phone was ringing. She turned and saw it down the path, screen bright, vibrating on the dirt path. It broke the spell, and she ran for it. She was fast. She was the fastest girl in her third-grade class, always pulling effortlessly ahead of everyone else on the soccer field at relay races in PE. Coach said she was a rocket. But she wasn’t fast enough today.

Another man, whom she hadn’t seen, was coming up the path from the opposite direction. He got there first, crushing the phone beneath his hard black boot as she dove for it, skinning her knees, the dirt kicking up so that she could taste it in her mouth.

He looked down at her, his expression unreadable.

Don’t bother running, he said. He sounded almost sad for her. He’s got you now.

But she did run. Her daddy had always told her if a stranger tried to take her that she was supposed to run and scream at the top of her lungs and fight with everything she had. Don’t ever let them take you, he warned. No matter what.

Why? she used to ask. The conversation frightened and excited her, like a scary movie. What happens if they take me?

Nothing good, said her father grimly. And the way he said it meant that the conversation was over.

She used to lie in bed at night sometimes, thinking of how she would get away from a bad guy that tried to take her away from her family. In those imaginings, she was always strong and brave, fiercely fighting and punching like the kids in Antboy and Kick-Ass (which she was way too young to watch but did with her brother on those nights when Mommy was working and Daddy was in charge).

It was nothing like this. She couldn’t breathe; fear was a black hole sucking every part of her into its vortex. Her brother was now yelling, too, telling her to run. And she did. She got up from the ground and she ran past the strange-looking man, leaving her brother and her father behind. She was going for help. She had to be fast, faster than she’d ever been. Not just for herself, but for her daddy and her brother.

How far did she get? Not far when a great weight landed on her from behind, bringing her hard to the ground, knocking all the wind out of her. There was a foul smell and hot air in her ear.

You come like a nice little girl, and I won’t kill your father and your brother. I won’t go back and kill your mother, too.

She couldn’t even answer as the man yanked her to her feet and started dragging her back up the hill—past her brother who lay quietly crying on the ground.

Let her go, her brother said faintly. Please let her go.

They locked eyes; she’d never seen anyone look so afraid. It made her insides clench. She couldn’t help it; she started to shriek and scream, pull back against the man. But he was impossibly strong; she was a rag doll, no muscle or bone. Her movements were as ineffective as the flap of butterfly wings.

When she looked back, she couldn’t even see her daddy. And after a while, walking and walking with the man holding on to her arm, pulling her so roughly, talking so mean, it started to get dark. She had never been so far away from where she was supposed to be. Maybe it was a dream.

It couldn’t be happening, could it? Could it?

PART ONE

NEW PENNY

Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth

Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep.

—John Milton, Paradise Lost

A girl, spindle thin, rode too fast atop a motorcycle with an electric-purple gas tank and fenders, shiny chrome exhaust pipes. The engine roared, scaring the birds from their perches and causing the animals in the woods to skitter into their burrows. The road before her was a black ribbon dropped carelessly on green velvet, a twisting, turning skein between the trees that had not yet started to turn color. She took the bends tight and in control, feeling the confidence that only youth allows, still blissfully ignorant to the hard fact that consequences can be as unforgiving as asphalt on bare flesh.

The Hollows watched as she flew, the tall pine trees reaching up all around her, the last breath of summer exhaled and the first chill of autumn hovering, not yet fallen. The girl was of this place; she belonged here, more than she knew. But she was a fox in a trap, more likely to chew off her own leg than stay and wait for the hunter to come find her. She was unpredictable and wild, powerful, foolish, stubborn, like many children The Hollows had known.

She rode past the woods, past the high school and the small graveyard with the dilapidated caretaker’s shack, past the small pasture. Then she turned onto Main Street, which would lead her into the heart of town. She slowed her speed. If she was seen driving too fast, then it would get back to her grandmother, who would then worry about her more than she already did, which by Finley Montgomery’s estimation was far too much.

She wound through town slowly, looping once around the square, lifting a hand at the light to the man who waved from the crosswalk. Then she parked near The Fluffy Muffin, took off her helmet, revealing a shocking head of hot pink and black hair. She hung the helmet on the handlebars, not worried about anybody taking it. That wouldn’t happen here, not in The Hollows. Mrs. Kramer, owner of the bakery, smiled indulgently at the girl from the shop window. Then Finley disappeared inside the shop, where she would buy some fresh croissants for her grandmother, which she would try to get home before they got cold.

Across the street, Miss Lovely cleaned out the annuals from in front of her bed-and-breakfast establishment while her daughter Peggy balanced the books inside, worrying about the financial health of their business, which was poor. Expenses far outstripped income, and Peggy wasn’t sure how to tell her mother, who never liked to talk about such things.

Around the square, shops were opening. Yogis lined up outside White Orchid, shouldering their mats in stylish bags and clutching water bottles as they stood, chatting. From the Java Stop the scent of roasted coffee beans drifted out, luring in passersby. Marion March, owner of Gentle as a Lamb, lay out on a wooden stand a beautifully crocheted blanket made from the lamb’s wool she sold in her boutique of handmade clothes and linens. She’d thought by this point in her life that she’d have been a famous fashion designer living in Manhattan. But instead, she’d never left The Hollows. Marion was born and raised here, married her childhood sweetheart, and raised two girls, one of whom was currently studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology, with aspirations of her own to design (inspired by her mother). If Marion was disappointed at the way her life had turned out, no one knew it, especially not her girls, who thought she was the most wonderful mother on the face of the earth.

Around the corner and down the road, private detective Jones Cooper mowed the lawn in front of the house he shared with his wife, Maggie. His wife had been nagging him to hire the neighbor’s son Greg to do the yard work. The boy was a boomerang, unable to find a job in banking after college and living in his parents’ basement; he needed the work. But Jones Cooper needed the exercise. Of course, it was only a matter of time before he did what Maggie told him. He was a man who loved his wife and was smart enough to know that she was right about most things, even if he took his time getting around to admitting it.

There were 9,780 living souls populating The Hollows. There were good people and bad ones, people with secrets and dark appetites, happy people, and people buckling under the weight of grief and sorrow. There were people who were looking for things and loved ones they had lost, and people hiding. There were lost people, trying to find their way home. Each of them was connected to the others in ways that were obvious or as hidden as the abandoned mine tunnels beneath the ground. Each had his purpose and his place in The Hollows, whether he knew it or not. Every thing here had its time and its season.

After a few minutes, Finley came out of the bakery with a pink box that she carefully stowed in her backpack, mindful not to crush the contents. Then she climbed on her bike. She zipped out of town, returning home the way she came. Even though she had been born and had grown up ­someplace else, The Hollows had kept its tendrils reaching out to her, tugging at her, keeping her connected until very recently, when it was time for her to come home.

Finley had noticed that all the warmth had gone from the air and knew that it meant winter, her least favorite season, was approaching. She didn’t know how fast it was coming or how hard it was going to be. She didn’t know that something would be asked of her, something she didn’t want to do but in which she had little choice. And she certainly had no inkling that she might not see another spring.

Even The Hollows couldn’t tell the future.

ONE

Squeak-clink. Squeak-clink. Squeak-clink.

Oh my God. Finley Montgomery rolled over in bed and pulled the pillow over her head. What the hell is that?

Squeeeaaak. Clink.

It wasn’t loud exactly. In fact, it was faint but unceasing and arrhythmic, like the dripping of a faucet in another room. It was its stuttering relentlessness that made it so annoying.

The unidentifiable noise had leaked into her dream, where Finley had been repeatedly turning a knob on a door that wouldn’t budge. In her dream, her frustration grew as she tried in vain to enter the room, tugging and pulling, twisting the rusty knob. Finally, the sound had woken her, tickling at the edges of her awareness as she came to wakefulness, her irritation lingering.

Sitting up, she looked around the mess of her bedroom—open laptop on her desk, stacks of books, laundry in a basket to be put away, more clothes on the floor, boots in a tumble by the door. She was alone, the door closed. She knew that the sound was inside her, not outside.

Squeak-clink.

"Okay," she said, drawing in and releasing a breath.

Finley focused on the details of her room, listing off what she saw. The gauzy curtains are billowing in the cool breeze. The wind chimes are tinkling outside. The golden sunlight of an autumn morning is dappling the hardwood floor. She took another deep breath and released it. By staying in the present moment, she could—allegedly—­control the event. This is what her grandmother—who had a way of making it sound so easy, as if it were just a choice Finley could make—had told her. But it required an unimaginable amount of discipline, of psychic (for lack of a better word) effort.

Not that she was trying to get rid of the sound precisely, not for good. At this point, she understood that if she was hearing something—or seeing something, or whatever—there was a reason. It was just that she was trying to train herself to take in information in a time and place that was appropriate for it. She was trying to learn how to set boundaries so that this thing didn’t destroy her life. I let it take too much, her grandmother confided. You can do better than I did.

Not now, Finley said firmly. Later.

The sound persisted, oblivious to Finley’s desires.

Downstairs, Finley’s grandmother Eloise was moving about the kitchen, making the music of morning—the opening of cabinets, setting of dishes, the gong of a pan on the stove. Then wafted in the scent of coffee, of bacon on the stove.

Squeak-clink.

It was fading as Finley climbed out of bed and stretched high, then bent over to touch her toes. Usually Finley took care of breakfast, thinking it was the least she could do, considering she was living with her grandmother rent free while she finished school. But on important days, Eloise made a point to get up early and cook—which was really just so nice. Finley marveled at how different were her mother and her grandmother.

Squeeak-clink. It was fainter still. But what was it? It wasn’t a sound that was familiar to her. As soon as she put her attention on it, it grew louder again. She made her bed, still breathing deep. I am in control of my awareness, she told herself. My awareness does not control me.

As Finley turned toward the window, she saw the shadow, faint and flickering like a hologram, of a little boy in the corner of the room. He sat playing with a wooden train. She’d been seeing him for a couple of days. He wasn’t any trouble, but she had no idea what he wanted from her yet. Choo-choo, he said quietly, moving the train across the floor. She watched him a moment, but when she took a step closer, he was gone, a trick of light.

The woman in the black dress, as usual, stood by the door to the hallway. Finley knew from her grandmother that the woman was Faith Good, a distant relative on the maternal side. Finley did know what Faith wanted. She wants you to be careful, Eloise had told her. Of course, that’s what everyone wanted from Finley.

The sound wasn’t coming from either of them, was it?

Finley stood another moment, thinking, listening, watching. She yanked her thumb away from her mouth as soon as she was aware that she was biting her nails again. Finally, she walked over the creaking wood floorboards, down the hall to the bathroom. She stripped off her pink tank top and gray sweatpants and stepped into the shower.

Letting the hot water wash over her, she scrubbed herself vigorously, sang loudly—Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah. She was a bad singer, completely tone deaf. But she didn’t care. All these actions kept her present in her body, in her life. And when she was done, the sound was gone. It worked, she thought gratefully as she grabbed the handle and turned off the water. Steam plumed around her, rising, dissipating. She was getting better at saying when—something her grandmother taught but had never herself learned to do. Later, after her exam, Finley thought, she’d deal with them.

Faith and the little boy were both gone when Finley returned to her room to dress quickly—pulling on soft jeans, a black tee-shirt, Doc Marten lace-up boots. She grabbed her motorcycle helmet off the dresser and her backpack off the floor and pounded down the creaky staircase, jumping the last few steps and listening to the walls rattle in response.

Finley, please! her mother would surely chide. But Eloise let Finley be. Finley and her mother were all hard angles, their edges always knocking up against each other, hurting. But Finley and her grandmother fit together like mated puzzle pieces.

She trailed past the familiar wall of family photographs: Finley and her brother Alfie on horseback—Alfie roaring with laughter as Finley tickled from behind; her mother Amanda’s high school graduation day, a grainy, orange-hued shot in which eighteen-year-old mother looked pale and decidedly not joyful; Finley’s grandfather Alfie and her aunt Emily bent over a book while a golden light shined on them through the window.

Finley always looked the longest at that one as she passed. Grandpa Alfie and Aunt Emily were both so present in Finley’s life, though they had both died long ago—killed in a car accident that Eloise and Finley’s mother, then a teenager, had survived but never really got over. Her grandmother never remarried. Her mother Amanda moved away from The Hollows as soon as she could and never came back to live.

Amanda talked about Grandpa Alfie as if he’d been the one who put the stars in the sky. She talked about Emily less, except to say that Finley was just like her—wild, fearless, creative, headstrong. Finley got the sense that it wasn’t a bad thing necessarily, but it wasn’t exactly a good thing either, since Amanda usually said it in anger or exasperation or just wonder.

Amanda hated that Finley was living in The Hollows, with Eloise—both things Amanda had fled. It is driving her absolutely batshit crazy, thought Finley with only a little bit of malicious glee. She dropped her stuff by the door, but not before kissing her fingers and putting them to a picture of her mother and father Philip on their wedding day. Good morning, guys.

In the kitchen, Eloise stood at the stove, a relic that had been there since Finley was small, and according to Amanda, longer than that. The knobs were worn smooth; the cooktop was so brown around the burners that had no hope of ever being white again. The back left burner no longer lit. Like everything else in the house, it was in need of replacement. But Eloise never replaced anything that wasn’t beyond repair.

Grandma, you need a new stove, said Finley for the hundredth time. She caught herself sniffing for gas like her mother always did.

Why? said her grandmother, turning off the burner. It still works. You don’t just get rid of an old thing because you want something new.

Yeah, said Finley, "ya do."

Hmm, said Eloise. "Maybe you do."

Finley wrapped Eloise up in a hug from behind and squeezed gently. Her grandmother was small but powerful, giving off some kind of electricity even though she was skin and bones. Then Finley gave Eloise a big kiss on the cheek and released her.

There’s nothing wrong with new things, Finley said.

Eloise offered a patient smile as she brought the pan to the counter and slid scrambled eggs onto two plates. Finley’s stomach rumbled.

Did you hear it this morning? Eloise asked.

Finley nodded quickly as she grabbed the orange juice from the fridge. Squeak-clink?

I thought it was something in the basement, said Eloise. But no.

Can we talk about it later? Finley asked.

She could already hear it starting up again. She poured orange juice into cloudy glasses. I am in control of my awareness.

Sure, said Eloise. She knew the drill, changed the subject. Are you ready for your exam?

As ready as I’ll ever be.

Finley sat and Eloise put the plate of eggs, bacon, and fruit in front of her. She caught her grandmother’s eyes lingering on her bare arms. Even though Eloise didn’t say anything—and never had since the first day she discovered that Finley’s arms were sleeves of tattoos—Finley wished she’d worn her hoodie.

When she first got to The Hollows a little more than a year ago, she’d sought to hide the richly colored dragons and fairies, butterflies, graveyards, mysterious-looking women in long gowns, dark shadowy figures of men and ghouls, a witch burning at the stake, a vicious dog on a chain. Each piece of art on her body meant something—was someone or something she’d seen in her visions or dreams. She’d started getting the tattoos when she was sixteen and hadn’t been able to stop.

Oh, Finley, Eloise had said that day. Your beautiful skin.

I’m sorry, she’d said. She wasn’t sure what she was apologizing for—for the tattoos, for hiding them, for shocking her grandmother. But this is me. This is who I am.

Eloise had rested a gentle hand up Finley’s arm. Some of the art on Finley’s body, which started at her wrists and snaked up her arms, over her shoulders and down her back, was still just a black outline at that point.

It’s a work in progress, said Finley.

"Meaning you’re getting more? asked Eloise. When are you going to stop?"

Finley had lifted a defiant chin. When the outside looks like how I feel on the inside.

Eloise had seemed to consider this. If anyone could understand how different was Finley’s inner life from her outer life, surely it would be Eloise. Who knew better than a renowned psychic medium that the world of the spirit was altogether other from the world of the body?

Okay, dear, Eloise had said. I understand.

They hadn’t discussed it much since then, and Finley didn’t seek to hide her tattoos any longer. At home with her mother, she would never even dare wear a tee-shirt—because Amanda had no boundaries whatsoever. Or

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What people think about Ink and Bone

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90 ratings / 26 Reviews
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  • (5/5)
    This book was given to me as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    When I read the description for this novel, I almost jumped up and down in my seat for excitement. It literally has everything that I love all rolled into one. Mystery? Check. Crazy killings and kidnappings? Check. Badass female protagonists? Check!! Supernatural events? CHECK, CHECK, AND MORE CHECKS! I'm so grateful I got a chance to read this novel so here is my review!

    Finley Montgomery is not your ordinary twenty-year old. For as long as she can remember, Finley has had a special gift: she can see into the future and can see beyond the physical world, allowing her to make supernatural things happen. But Finley has no control over her powers, which seem to be growing stronger every day. The only person who can help is her grandmother, Eloise, who lives up in the Hollows, a small town in upstate New York. Finley decides to move there to continue on with her life - while learning how to use her gift. But this "gift" seems both a blessing a curse, as Findley finds herself drawn into the investigation of a young girl that has been missing for ten months. With time running out, Finley is starting to feel the supernatural pull of the Hollows. Will she be able to get to the little girl? Or will the Hollows take her instead?

    This book was ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC! Every single aspect of it was well thought out. The story, the characters, the supernatural... it all fit in seamlessly. This novel had so many different areas that it explored; from the need to belong and know who you are to the question of whether there is an afterlife, everything was covered in a brilliant way. I could not put this book down and nor did I want to! Apparently, there were three short stories that the author wrote prior to this novel that were on the same topic of The Hollows; I plan on getting my hands on them ASAP, just because I liked the story so much! There is no need to read the short stories before this one as it all flows well. I cannot wait to read more by this author and I urge you all to give it a shot, too!
  • (5/5)
    A fast paced, edge of your seat thriller that will keep you reading late into the night. Set in a place called The Hollow, there's more than meets the eye of the picturesque town. Finley who is rough around the edges but has a good heart was a very likable character. With a plot twist you don't see coming this book is sure to keep you wondering what's going to happen next. I hope Lisa Unger makes this book a first in a series.
  • (4/5)
    This is my first book by Ms. Unger and now I'm wondering what took so long for me to read her books, after this one you can be sure I'll be reading more.

    Finley is a psychic who is living with her grandmother, Eloise, a psychic who is training Finley to use her gifts while Finley attends a local college. Rainer, her former boyfriend and one of the reasons she moved from Seattle has followed her to The Hollows (the family's hometown) because he can't give Finley up. Merri and Wolf are a couple whose daughter, Abbey has been abducted. Merri is convinced Abbey is still alive and she comes to the Hollows in a last ditch effort to find her. She meets with Jones a private detective who sometimes works with Eloise. But Eloise says this case isn't for her, it's for Finley.

    Finley is a strong, smart character who has enough brass to keep everything on edge. I enjoyed the relationship between her and Rainer. Eloise and her friend Agatha (anyone catch that one?) are that voice of wisdom - exactly what you would imagine a grandmother and her friend to be. There were lots of clues in the story but it was like looking at a bunch of fun house mirrors - all distorted and not what you would expect so you had to think a bit.
  • (4/5)
    Excellent thriller with paranormal elements that are reminiscent of Stephen King's best novels. This is a character driven work that grabs and keeps the reader's attention. I could not put it down and finished it in a day, despite hunger pangs. I was compelled to get to the conclusion. It's that good! Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC.
  • (4/5)
    Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger is about a young woman (Finley) with a paranormal gift who finds herself involved in the search for a missing girl. Finley's grandmother is a well-known psychic who often helps a local detective but Finley isn't ready to listen to her gift. The disappearance of the young girl soon spirals into the investigation of several disappearances in The Hollows in upstate New York. Eerie scenes in the woods and a dark and fearful first person point of view from the missing girl create a palpable feeling of suspense.I'm a real Johnny-come-lately when it comes to author Lisa Unger. Some of her 14 novels have come across my radar in the past - and I've been aware of her popularity amongst fellow readers for a long time - but Ink and Bone is the first novel of hers I've read. I really enjoy the 'crime meets paranormal' genre, and I'm excited to check out her back catalogue.Part crime novel, part paranormal thriller, I thoroughly enjoyed Ink and Bone and can recommend it widely to fans of the crime genre who don't mind a tattooed female protagonist coming to grips with her abilities and trying to do good in the world.* Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster Australia *
  • (4/5)
    A young girl is abducted when her family goes hiking while staying in The Hollows. Ten months later, her mother, whose marriage is collapsing and her son, a hollow shell of what he was once, hires a P.I. who works with a psychic. He usually works with a psychic name named Eloise, but Eloise has a granddaughter named Finley that has strong visions of events that surrounds The Hollows. As she tries to learn how to deal with her psychic abilities she is also trying her damnedest to locate the missing child. I usually don't read paranormal stories, but do enjoy a good mystery. This was enjoyable.
  • (3/5)
    Deft thriller with supernatural components. I like that the characters are not all likeable, but they are honest (though apparently everyone in Unger's world is pretty beautiful). For some reason I love creepy stuff about creepy backwoods people who do creepy shit. Like that horrible "X-Files" episode that when I say just one or two words about it everyone is always OH MY GOD THAT ONE. We're all fascinated by icky hicks.
  • (3/5)
    I enjoyed this book very much. The connection between Finley and Eloise was touching, and the plot kept me reading. I well written, entertaining read!
  • (4/5)
    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. I enjoyed the book. It is a fast-paced read with many twists that kept me engrossed. A recommended read.
  • (3/5)
    It has been a few books past since I have read one by this author. Yet I liked this book. The main character, Finley is cool. However I wanted to see more of her gift in action. I found it very intriguing and when she her viewed the whole scene as it played out in front of her with her out of body experience. I felt really connected in that moment to the story and the characters. If Jones was there to be a love interest for Finley, I was not seeing the sparks. Finley and Jones together as friends was the vibe I got. Although, neither one really took the lead on solving the disappearance, they did it together. It was pretty apparent early on how Merri's story tied into the whole investigation. It was a sad one but Merri is a fighter. Even with a broken marriage, she did not give up fighting to discover the truth. The ending was good even if it did take a while to get there. The beginning was great and then about a third of the way into the book it lost some steam. Luckily the last third of the story came together and picked up steam again.
  • (5/5)
    I was lucky enough to get the ARC directly from Lisa Unger, the author. On one hand, I was really thrilled but, then, I thought what if I don't like it? Well, that didn't happen, I read this book straight through and loved it! There's a lot going on here in The Hollows. Finley Montgomery has always seen people that no one else can see and they are starting to get out of control. She decides to move to The Hollows to live with her grandmother, Eloise Montgomery, a psychic who has been working with Jones Cooper, a detective. She needs her grandmother's help in getting a handle on her own gift. Merri Gleason is a mother who has been looking for her daughter who disappeared ten months ago. Her family has fallen apart after the loss of her daughter and she has nothing else to lose, so she goes to Jones Cooper for help. It's Finley, though, who's getting messages from a young girl and she, more so than her grandmother, starts working on this case. As they get into the investigation, they find out that Merri's daughter, Abbey is not the only young girl to go missing from The Hollows. There are so many layers to this story that it is difficult to put down and I didn't until I finished it. It went on sale this week, don't miss it!
  • (2/5)
    I'd like to thank NetGalley and Touchstone for the opportunity to read this title as an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    Finley Montgomery has been chosen, in her grandmother Eloise's words. She is a listener, a dreamer, and her life has become quite crowded because of it. Desperate to learn more about her nature and whether being chosen will ever feel more like a gift than a burden, Finley moves across the country to live with Eloise and attend a local college in the small, seemingly idyllic town of The Hollows, New York. Sensing a mysterious pull in The Hollows, Finley begins to realize that there are whispers stirring in the woods and she might end up hearing more than she ever bargained for.

    Reading the synopsis for Unger's Ink and Bone certainly piqued my interest. I was eager for something thrilling and suspenseful to get wrapped up in and this seemed to punch the ticket with a resounding one two. (How do you like them mixed metaphors, eh?) Noting the supernatural/fantasy elements of the novel further stoked my hopes for an entertaining read.

    Unfortunately, Ink and Bone ended up disappointing. It certainly offers an interesting plot premise but the meat of the plot straddled both psychological thriller and the supernatural clumsily whilst deploying very typical genre tropes on the part of both characters and setting that could have been delved into quite a bit more. I think I simply wanted more nuance, more personality. There was a murkiness in how the story unfolded and how little its characters were developed that made the story confusing and hard to grab onto with any real traction.

    This is my first experience reading anything by Unger so I don't have a comparison with previous work to draw from/offer. I have heard good things about other books however, which may have inflated my expectations somewhat.

  • (4/5)
    I liked this one. It mixed good old fashioned mystery with the paranormal in some interesting ways.
  • (3/5)
    This book tends to jump around and be confusing. The basic story line is great, yet it meanders here and there and has great potential. I think that the author is trying to pull too many stories into the mix, grabbing at too many lead ins to keep the main story focused and on point. The ending seems almost like a dump of information in a quick wrap up, almost as if the author was tired of the story and just wanted to be finished. Better character development with the minor characters rather than just trying to cover their full story in the last two chapters would have lead to a much better book. I loved the fact that it was not the "story book ending" and doesn't leave the "yay, everyone is saved" ending.
  • (4/5)
    a bit jumpy and drags in places but overall still a good read
  • (2/5)
    I loved the idea of this book, but unfortunately it was a bit predictable and, in my opinion, did not live up to the hype.
  • (4/5)
    It was a pretty good book! I found myself eager to sit down and read it when I could. The story was very interesting, and it had a great twist and ending. The only thing I did not like about it was the stereotypical, punk character. Although even she seemed to tie in very well with a few explanations of her tattoos.
  • (4/5)
    A little paranormal, some sociopaths, family drama and crime/private investigators all weave together in this tale. Twenty-year-old Finley Montgomery has supernatural gifts that she is unable to control or really know what they are. Having gotten into trouble at home, she decides it is time to head to "The Hollows" to live with her grandmother and go to school there. Her grandmother will know how to help and guide her. Her boyfriend Rainer, follows her and even though she is trying to end their relationship, there is something pulling them together. Unfortunately for Finley, once she arrives, she starts to hear noises and see even more spirits. Her grandmother is not a lot of help as she just tells her to do what she feels is right and follow the images and feelings. Of course when the story opens, a young girl goes missing, so we know that is going to play into the story. Finley knows that she has to do something and when the missing girl hires the local PI, she steps in to help. She feels time is running out and that she must do something to help. Her grandmother, Eloise, is losing her strength and powers and is not sure what to do to help rid "The Hollows" of the menacing evil that seems to be lurking. Will they find the missing girl? What is the evil?

    This was a gripping story with everything I like in a psychological thriller. There are multiple POVs, some interesting characters, good vs evil, and a strong but reluctant heroine. There were some things that happened that I expected, but several that came in a swift twisting conclusion. A good story and exactly what I have come to appreciate in Lisa Unger's writing. If you like a psychological thriller with a paranormal theme, then you will enjoy this book.
  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Finley, like her grandmother Eloise, has psychic abilities. She hears the whispers of those gone, but still bound to the world. A little girl is kidnapped and a family is in torment, not knowing what has happened to her. Finley hears a sound, over and over. It is a clue to the location of the little girl, but can Finley understand in time? Part horror, part thriller, and part paranormal, I was completely caught up in the story of Finley and her growth and acceptance of her gift and the lost girl's fight to survive. I look forward to reading more of Lisa Unger's books.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)
    The Hollows is a place with many whispered secrets and Finely Montgomery is one of very few people that can hear them. Twenty-one years old, covered in tattoos and accompanied by three ghostly sisters, Finley just wants to silence the ongoing racket in her head. She can’t make sense of the little boy who sits silently playing with his toy trains or why the ghost of a woman named Faith is always giving her looks of disapproval. Upon waking one day, Finley is met with a brand new ghostly sound that she can’t begin to understand. As much as she tries to ignore the new and probing noise, she just can’t escape it. Could it be linked to a missing person’s case from almost a year ago?
    Lisa Unger created a phenomenal masterpiece in Ink and Bone. There is so much mystery hidden in the layers of the story that I never quite grasped ahold of it all until the very last page. Unger gives us a haunting town history, characters that we can love to hate and just enough love and passion and fear to keep us turning pages. The paranormal twist on this particular story never felt unrealistic or too farfetched.
    There were several moments throughout this story that were absolutely bone chilling. I found myself jumping at a knock on my door and again when my cat sidled up to me. I found myself holding my breath, begging for answers that never quite came soon enough. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of Ink and Bone, even when it evoked anger, sadness and fear inside me. I recommend this to everyone, if you think you can handle it!
    I received a digital copy of this book in an exchange for an honest review via NetGalley
  • (4/5)

    2 people found this helpful

    This was a book that was a quick read, drew me in right from the beginning and held me into the story until the big finale, which was absolutely breathtaking. Unfortunately, the big finale came at 90% into the book and there was another 10% of “fluff” after that. After the huge adrenaline rush from that incredible scene, it was really hard to read all the nice wrap up the author put in the last part. I understand what the writer was going for—to have all questions in the reader’s mind answered, all the loose ends tied up nicely, and have the reader left in a better feeling place. But honestly, a lot of those things had been foreshadowed or were quickly mentioned before, so I kind of knew them already. The rest, as I said, was a lot of what I would call fluff or filler—things that didn’t add much to the story. I felt like I was moving through quick sand to read that last 10%. As an avid reader, I can say that I don’t mind being left to fill in a few small things for myself. I don’t want to give spoilers so I won’t mention anything specific. The rest of the storyline, the writing was fabulous. I absolutely loved the characters and the main story. Again, the big finale was one that had me turning pages as fast as I could read. I’d have given a full 5 stars but I was let down with the writing at the end of the book, so will give 4 stars. I definitely would recommend this book to thriller readers and fans of paranormal books.

    2 people found this helpful

  • (5/5)
    Characters in this book grabbed me and held on tight. Finley: doing her best to come to terms with being a medium and determining how being as she is will impact her future. At twenty she has her future ahead of her. I want to know more about her.Rainer: loved Finley and followed her from Seattle to The Hollow. I do hope he and Finley will get their happily ever after eventually.Eloise: Finley’s grandmother who has worked as a medium assisting P.I. Jones Cooper find missing people.Abbey: a little girl taken against her will one horrible day.Bobo: damaged and unforgettable.Jason: a young man who may show up in the next book if it is part of a series.Well written with perspectives given from various viewpoints and a plot that drew me in and kept me reading – I found this a powerful story with chilling, dark, intense elements that were all intertwined together to make a splendid if not always happy read. I loved it and loved not being able to fully predict the ending. I also liked the fact that the flaws of characters were not glossed over but instead were exposed allowing me to experience emotions that I would not otherwise have felt. Great story and great writing! I have read that there were books that preceded this one but this is a story able to stand alone. Thank you to Touchstone and NetGalley for the copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
  • (4/5)
    Finley Montgomery doesn’t want to be the person who sees the ones no one else sees. She doesn’t want to have prophetic dreams. She doesn’t want to embrace her “gift.” But she dreams the dreams, sees the unseen ones and, though reluctant to embrace the psychic gift, she rides her Harley-Davidson into The Hollows, sporting pink and black hair and tattoos where her grandmother Eloise sets about helping her to accept her gift.Merri Gleason, a mother desperate to find her missing daughter, approaches private Investigator Jones Cooper and Jones enlists Eloise’s aid. However, the spirits speak to Finley and draw her into the investigation. But Abbey’s been missing for more than a year and, like other children who’ve disappeared in The Hollows, there’s no a trace of her and The Hollows is reluctant to reveal its secrets.As much a story of Finley’s growing into herself and her psychic gift as a mystery, “Ink and Bones” is a well-written, fast-paced paranormal thriller grabs the reader at the beginning and doesn’t ever let go as it twists and turns its way though terror and continually ratchets up the suspense. Interaction between the moody, atmospheric Hollows and the multifaceted, well-developed characters adds dimension to the narrative. The complexity of the plot will keep the pages turning and readers will find themselves reluctant to set this one aside.Highly recommended.
  • (5/5)
    Finley Montgomery possesses some unique skills – she can see and communicate with the dead. It is a trait she comes by honestly as her grandmother shares a similar talent that she has used very successfully solving difficult crimes with local police agencies. While Finley has had some difficulties acknowledging her talent, she does admire her grandmother and returns to her childhood home to learn how to deal with her talents in a more positive manner. Unfortunately, a small child has been abducted and it becomes Finley’s case to solve. The action builds continually as the story races to a conclusion that I did not anticipate, making it a great story!
  • (4/5)
    Ink & Bone by Lisa Unger is a 2016 Touchstone publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Having read the three short stories which are preludes to this full length novel, I had a little background about ‘The Hollows’ and the three generations of women empowered with psychic powers, each one coping in different ways. Finley represents the third generation, but is less than thrilled by her gift and the responsibility of it. However, when a case comes to her attention which involves a missing girl, Finley gets sucked into the search whether she wants to or not. I immediately liked Finley, the inked, motorcycle riding wild child, who is not afraid to speak her mind. As conflicted as she is about her future and the emotional drama she will face by accepting her psychic abilities, she does the right thing, and perhaps even learns to not only accept her fate, but embrace it, with a fierceness neither her grandmother or mother ever could. I have some mixed emotions about the story, although it has all the elements needed for an atmospheric chiller, and even came with a few Gothic undertones, which I loved. Everything clicked along nicely with the suspense building with each chapter, the mystery solidifying, and the characters developing, becoming clearer, sharper, and stronger and the story progressed. But, the conclusion, while tense and emotional, lost ground, becoming a little murky, confusing, and with some threads not completely explained or fully closed, leaving me with a feeling of dissatisfaction. I would love to delve into that cryptic opinion, but doing so would give too much away. Despite feeling a little let down and sad by the way some things turned out, I was pleased by the characterizations, the ultimate feeling of closure, and the promise of new beginnings. Finley is a character I will look forward to hearing from again, as she perfects her natural talent and uses it to help others. I think the past generations of gifted women will be very proud and ‘The Hallows’ may actually feel peace- for a little while at least.
  • (3/5)
    Ink and Bone is one of those books that seem to have so much going for it right up front that I couldn’t wait to get started on it. It combines elements of several genres (mystery, thriller, crime fiction, horror, etc.) and does it in a way that takes each of the various genres seriously enough to keep the story more or less believable no matter how strange some of its paranormal elements eventually become. But at a point just over half way through, the plot took a twist (exaggerated, I think by a slight style-change decision) that began to frustrate and confuse me. And even though the book’s ending is a satisfying one, I still wish it had not become so unnecessarily complicated before reaching that point.Longtime fans of Lisa Unger are likely already to be familiar with Eloise Montgomery, one of the main characters of Ink and Bone because Eloise, a psychic who works closely with a New York state detective to find missing persons, has been featured in several Unger novels and short stories preceding this one. This time around, Eloise has been joined in The Hollows (a rather quaint upstate New York village) by her twenty-year-old granddaughter, Finley, who seems to share the same psychic skills that have so defined her grandmother’s life. Finley’s own powers are growing noticeably without her being able to control or understand them, and the young woman has come to her grandmother for help and advice.And, as it turns out, she is exactly where she needs to be. Little girls and young women have been periodically disappearing (or have otherwise been abused) in The Hollows for a long time – and it is happening again. One mother, who has been looking for her missing daughter for almost a year, and who refuses to give up hope until a body is found, has finally gotten desperate enough to place her last hopes in Eloise and Private Investigator Jones Cooper even though she is not herself a believer in Eloise’s supposed skills. But as it turns out, Eloise is not the psychic in the house who can help her.Ink and Bone has enough of a mystery about it to keep mystery fans turning its pages throughout, and its three main characters are easy ones with which to identify. Too, it has enough of the elements of a pure horror novel going for it that fans of that genre are sure to remain intrigued. Unger stumbles a bit, however, by over-complicating the plot to the degree that it becomes difficult to keep up with a multitude of side-characters and how they relate to main plot. There are so many layers to Ink and Bone that I never did resolve some of them in my mind – and I find that to be frustrating.