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Steven J. Mepham

Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer is one of those works of fiction that I stumbled across entirely by accident and has turned out to be an amazing find. A dark and gritty exploration of the human psyche, Not Even Bones, places us firmly in the headspace of Nita in a world where the monsters of literature are a subspecies distinct from humans who are hunted down and harvested for their parts within the first few moments, we learn that Nita takes pride in dissecting the monsters corpses her mother brings her all in the name of profit.

Who is the monster and who is the man

Hunchback of Notre Dame, Disney

It may seem odd to be quoting Hunchback, but both share a thematic essence. They ask a clear question. With hunchback, we know the answer. But if there is an answer to be found within Not even bones, it is perhaps that there is little distinction between the two. There are some terrifying scenes within, surrounded in a dark world of suffering and sadness. One that on reflection, is terrifying in its plausibility.


The strength of Not even Bones comes from its world and the sublime cast characters that inhabit it. There are only a few characters that permeate its pages through the singular perspective of Nita and yet those we have are diverse and vibrant: fundamentally flawed or inherently broken.

As a character Nita is superb. She is resourceful, cunning analytical but also completely self-centred. She is extremely nieve, but that is a source of her strength rather a wrench for her to be controlled with. Her character progression is immense, as expected of a protagonist. What I love about her character is that I don’t feel she is meant to be liked. She is superbly grey in her morals and that makes her a breath of fresh air.

Image Reference: Drawn by Alai Cinereo on

If there is one thing I can truly say it is that Schaeffer is a wonderfully creative mastermind. Though scratch the surface at the detail seems only skin deep. Not even Bones left me wanting to know more, about everything. Throughout its pages, we come to learn of the various Monsters that inhabit the world but seldom do we learn much beyond a name and the occasional feeding habit. I found myself immensely drawn to Kovit and Mirella because the information we had about them was so intriguing. In Kovit’s case, the more I learned the more enthralled I became. This is a character whose very being has chartered his life’s course. Whose morals ultimately conflict with his nature, and it is only his stubborn adherence to his own code of ethics that keeps his humanity intact. While we see Nita throw away and trample on her morality in order to survive, Kovit, closely guards his. It draws a compelling motif that I hope continues in Only Ashes Remain.


Not Even Bones is a thrilling read that has a lot of substance. It is a bleak tale of survival in a world filled with open, unmitigated greed and corruption. One that shows us some of the darkest aspects of humanity. That its world feels so vivid and frankly plausible is a chilling yet important revelation. Schaeffer’s characters are sublime, realistic and fundamentally flawed. They feel real which is a difficult feat to pull off, but one Schaeffer clearly shows an expert hand. That isn’t to say there are not flaws present in Not Even Bones, but on the balance scale, the flaws are a single drop of tainted water in an ocean of superb creation.

Not Even Bones is also available as a webtoon.

You can buy Not Even Bones, and its equal Only Ashes Remain from Amazon by clicking below:

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