Winter’s Bone Review

Author: Daniel Woodrell. 

Publisher: Sceptre.

Published: 2006.

Rating: 9/10.


In Winter’s Bone (2006), Daniel Woodrell explores the criminal underbelly of the Ozarks, which are the highland areas of rural central USA. Ree Dolly, the protagonist and caretaker of her mother and two younger siblings, is a teenage girl who must find her father, who has skipped bail, or face their home being taken from them. 

The novel takes place in a poverty stricken, crime infested, violent community where meth labs are a common occurrence. Ree must negotiate this environment to save her family from destitution, but faces silence from an insular community that wishes to keep its secrets hidden.

The dialogue and narrative voice are excellently written. The novel grounds itself right in the heart of rural America through the use of local vernacular. It is one of the strengths of the novel, and Woodrell writes so fluently about his own environment. 

Winters Bone (2006) could be classified as a Neo-Western given the topic of lawlessness and crime in rural/west America, but really it has an ambiguous genre. The reason why I suggest this is because it reminded me of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men (2005), a Neo-Western that takes place along the Texas-Mexico border. Both involve rural crime and both are written with a brutal honesty that translates the violence of these environments. 

As a fan of crime-drama and Neo-Westerns, I was absolutely taken by it. From the honest writing to the strong dialogue, it was very powerful. Ree Dolly is one of the strongest characters you will ever read about. Her sheer endurance and conviction are one to take inspiration from. Much respect, Ree. Much respect. 

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