This is the sequel to the outstanding (if disturbing) Fire Sermon. Unlike a lot of sequels which assume you to have intiminate knowledge of (or have only just read) the previous book, this book picks up the story and gently reminds you of what you need to know. Francesca Haig does not re-explain in an annoying fashion, and nor does she expect to remember but reveals details of backstory as you go.
The Map of Bones is clearly the second in a trilogy and it is by its nature not altogether a story of its own. It is the continuation of something that has come before, and unlike that one which had an end of its own, you can tell that this book is the bridge to the bigger ending.
None of that spoiled my enjoyment of this story though – if ‘enjoyment’ is the right word – for a story that holds a mirror up to own world and shows us what kind of future our descendants could face. Where the first book focussed on the world in which people live as twins who can each only survive whilst the other lives, and where one is healthy and one deformed in somew way, this book takes that idea further. It introduces the idea of an ‘un-twinning’ procedure – genetic modification of us to right the wrongs of the past, except of course there is no way to ‘right’ these wrongs. This trillogy is absolutely all about how we have to live with each other as equals irrespective any perceived superiority.
It’s that mirror that Francesca Haig holds up to our world which makes this book the disturbing read that it is, but is also why it is an utterly brilliant and powerful book.