Luanne Armstrong’s apocalyptic novel The Bone House (New Star) is a searingly perceptive social commentary on a world in which sovereign corporate might has pillaged the goodness of humankind. The natural world and the struggle to preserve it, a recurring concern in Armstrong’s novels, poetry and children’s works, localizes itself here in a subtly discriminating exposé of human nature. The environment, rapine and poisoned through greed, neglect and short-sightedness, is an external representation of the inner landscape of the peripheral characters who form ominous gangs and repressive bureaucracies. Armstrong depicts a violent, every-man-for-himself world, in which sex, food and drugs are currency to be bartered or stolen. Yet love, faith and hopefulness are not extinct, as can be seen particularly in the novel’s strong female protagonist, Lia, who survives the horrors of a desolate Vancouver and returns to the Kootenays where she was born. Here she meets with Matt, a character who is constructing a house of bones as a monument to lost love, and whose past converges with her own. However, the construction of the bone house is significantly larger than Matt’s aims. In the novel, this central image encompasses the very qualities that set The Bone House apart from many apocalyptic novels. The characters here do not find their salvation or transformation by acting heroically against the doomsday scenario. Unlike Orwell in 1984, Atwood in The Handmaid’s Tale, or even Wyndham in The Day of the Triffids, Armstrong does not seek to establish a charged awareness in a protagonist who acts defiantly and tragically against a fearful futuristic “normalcy.” Rather, in The Bone House, characters, like the skeletal structure under human flesh, remain very much the way they always have been: “Life goes on in its deadly sameness.” And it is the very traditional things, such as family, clan, a sense of connection and home, that keep human beings surviving in the wake of disaster. This simple, astute psychological insight speaks convincingly to the human condition. Partly for this reason, The Bone House presents itself as a compellingly authentic and immediate experience.