Review: Road of Bones by Christopher Golden

A stunning supernatural thriller set in Siberia, where a film crew is covering an elusive ghost story about the Kolyma Highway, a road built on top of the bones of prisoners of Stalin’s gulag.

Kolyma Highway, otherwise known as the Road of Bones, is a 1200 mile stretch of Siberian road where winter temperatures can drop as low as sixty degrees below zero. Under Stalin, at least eighty Soviet gulags were built along the route to supply the USSR with a readily available workforce, and over time hundreds of thousands of prisoners died in the midst of their labors. Their bodies were buried where they fell, plowed under the permafrost, underneath the road.

Felix Teigland, or “Teig,” is a documentary producer, and when he learns about the Road of Bones, he realizes he’s stumbled upon untapped potential. Accompanied by his camera operator, Teig hires a local Yakut guide to take them to Oymyakon, the coldest settlement on Earth. Teig is fascinated by the culture along the Road of Bones, and encounters strange characters on the way to the Oymyakon, but when the team arrives, they find the village mysteriously abandoned apart from a mysterious 9-year-old girl. Then, chaos ensues.

A malignant, animistic shaman and the forest spirits he commands pursues them as they flee the abandoned town and barrel across miles of deserted permafrost. As the chase continues along this road paved with the suffering of angry ghosts, what form will the echoes of their anguish take? Teig and the others will have to find the answers if they want to survive the Road of Bones.

Road of Bones by Christopher Golden. Published by St. Martin’s Press, 2022. Hardback edition, 230 pages.

Well. This was pretty alright. Road of Bones is an interesting and entertaining journey into Siberian folklore. It was not at all what I was expecting. And that was kind of the problem here.

I really enjoyed seeing folklore from Siberia, BUT, I kinda feel like the plot blurb was a little misleading! I really was drawn to what it said about the dead under the road and the gulags. I thought that was going to play a much bigger role in the plot ( it is the title after all!) it really wasn’t. I went in wanting a haunted highway and prisons and what I got was nature spirit folklore. :/ This honestly was frustrating and hurt my enjoyment of the story some….

ONE thing I didn’t really understand at all, was the character of Ludmilla. The way her subplot was added to the main story almost felt like an after thought. It just felt kind of shoehorned in to give us a little bit of what the book blurb actually talked about. It was almost like the book blurb was made, then the a folk story was written, and then it was like “Oh snap, the book blurb and the book don’t match! Quick, add a few pages of ghosts on the road somewhere in there!” I’m NOT saying that is what happened, but it definitely feels like that. D:

So….. basically, this is a fine story, as long as you don’t care about the book blurb. There is no documentary going on, there are no gulags explored, Yes, technically there is a road of bones they drive on, but that is about all it is. So…. don’t read the book blurb, I guess? And you might really enjoy this story? I read the blurb though. I felt “catfished” by this book… or whatever the book equivalent for “catfished” would be called. Bookfished? I don’t know….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s