Ratty’s Bones is the second story from author Gary Richardson, following The Purple Haze which we reviewed earlier this year. Ratty’s Bones, however, is a completely different read to that of The Purple Haze. Whereas The Purple Haze was a fantastic zombie horror story, Ratty’s Bones is a very powerful, disturbing and violent drama. The reader follows Bruce Stevens, an inmate at the young age of 22, who hasn’t spoken a word since his arrest 6 years previously. During which time he has been visited regularly by his social worker, Diane Parker. Therefore, you can imagine her surprise when at one meeting Bruce decides to talk about his childhood, family, friendships and how his life connected with a talking rat.
When we are first introduced to Ratty I did find him a little difficult to connect to, however some of the scenes with Ratty are quite refreshing in between the seriousness of the remainder of the book. It was the powerfulness of the drama that made me want to continue reading as there are many reasons to connect and sympathise with Bruce. He is a young man who has had to deal with his fair share of abuse, tragedy and bullying. The story divides itself into three areas; Bruce at the age of 8 and 9 when he enjoyed a fun childhood, Bruce at the age of 15 and 16 after his life had made a downward spiral, and then the man of 22 who has had time to process his whole life and situation he is in.
Ratty is a funny sort of character. He speaks at times with a comical air about him – which to begin with is difficult to see how he fits into the rest of the story. Although, at the time when Bruce meets Ratty, Bruce’s life has been quite negative for a few years and there is a comparison between Ratty’s life and Bruce’s which does help to connect the reader with Ratty as the story goes on. It is Ratty that begins to urge Bruce to be brave and to try and change the course that his life is on.
I would recommend this short story to a more mature reader due to its violent content in parts. It is a nice length story, with nothing being dragged out, written in a direct manner whilst holding back some areas of the story until the reader approaches the end of the book. This creates a great tense atmosphere as the reader is desperate to find out what has happened to Bruce throughout his life.
Although I found it difficult to begin with, it became clearer as the story unfolded that Ratty’s role had a much more profound meaning. I found the whole story to be quite tragic, with a surprising turn towards the end. Due to the manner in which this short story finishes, I would love Gary Richardson to write a follow-up simply to find out what becomes of Bruce in the near future!
Reviewed by Caroline Barker
Here is our review of the highly recommended – The Purple Haze (short story) – by Gary Richardson
Please check out some author info and Gary’s books at Amazon.co.uk. Both short stories can be purchased in the UK for 99p (Kindle version) or Ratty’s Bones £4.75 (paperback) and The Purple Haze £5.99 (paperback)!
Here’s Gary’s page on Amazon.com. Prices for the Kindle versions are around $1.50. Paperbacks are £6.74 for Ratty’s Bones and $8.54 for The Purple Haze – both prices are accurate at the current time of writing this post, however they are possible to change.
We hope you enjoy these stories. It would be great to hear your thoughts on these great short stories!