[Review] The Bone Houses (2019)
The Bone Houses – Seventeen-year-old Aderyn (“Ryn”) only cares about two things: her family and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.
The risen corpses are known as “bone houses,” and legend says that they’re the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?
Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the deeply-buried truths about themselves. Equal parts classic horror novel and original fairytale, The Bone Houses will have you spellbound from the very first page.
I truly loved everything about this book, the beautifully described Welsh setting and the descriptions of the forest and countryside were almost breathtaking. The Bone Houses reminded me of one of those old-school Gothic stories that were written in such a dark atmospheric way that the reader cannot help but get lost in its glorious pages. You can actually feel the mist as it weaves its way through the thick forest and the musty smell of the wet ground. I was also fascinated by the book cover, it pulled me in and is only a small taste of the darkness that lies within.
The Bone Houses is a brilliant story about a girl’s desperate attempt to hold on to her family comforts of the past, and a boy searching for belonging. It’s about a girl, Aderyn (Ryn), who is a gravedigger and lives with her sister, Cerridwen, and her brother, Gareth. They live in a small remote town where the fae used to live many years ago, is out of the way and next to the woods. Their mother is dead, and their father and uncle have both mysteriously disappeared, leaving them basically orphaned.
Aderyn attempts to take care of her small family, along with the family graveyard, while trying to protect the town by stopping the bone houses, which are the risen dead that keep coming back at night, and who can’t remain dead because of an old curse. Aderyn goes into the forest to forage but remembers her father’s warnings of the dangerous things that appear after nightfall, such as the animated dead. They seem to keep to the forest and only come out at night, but lately, Aderyn has noticed they have been venturing closer and closer to the edges until one day, they come out completely.
Soon after, an unusual stranger named Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, and gets lost a lot arrives in town. Aderyn meets him when she saves his life and they end up forging an unusual friendship. They go into the forest to find a legendary castle in the lands of the faerie, and a cauldron rumored to give life. Sadly, Ellis suffers from chronic pain that comes from an old injury as a child, and which appears to him frequently throughout the course of the story. He’s very limited in what he can do on their journey because the pain stands in the way, especially when he has overextended himself or ignores the warnings.
And then there’s the goat. A zombie goat named, well, Goat. I. Loved. Goat! Amazing does not even begin to describe what a perfect character the goat was in this story. What more do I have to say to convince you to get this book? Seriously, you MUST read this! How many books are out there that have zombie goats as one of the main characters? This author needs an award just for coming up with that one, not to mention the fascinating way she brought it to life. (no pun intended)
Along the way in their search, Ryn and Ellis come across many things that have to do with the curse, magic, their families and friends, and both love and grief. I adored the way the author touched on and mentioned grief throughout her story in such a delicate way. There is a ton of humor, adventure, and down-right fun, especially with the goat character. You will find yourself coasting on the journey with them, fighting right along beside them, as they race to find a way to keep the un-dead from destroying their loved one and their little town.
All of the characters are lovable and relatable, especially Ryn. When her father disappeared, she stepped right up to take over his position digging graves for the villagers of the town in order to earn money to feed her family. She seems as she will do whatever it took for her brother and sister. Her main reasons for helping Ellis with creating his map of the mountains was to earn money for her family and to see if she could find her father, but they ended up being much more.
I just finished reading The Bone Houses yesterday and I’m missing it badly, I want to read it again! This is an amazing story that’s very well written, layers of sub-stories and tales. You’ll get a folklore kind of vibe as the myths and legends are brought to life. I have no idea how this author was able to create a story with so many magical and wonderful components that fit so well together. Perfect in every way. I highly recommend this book so make sure to read this one or you’re going to seriously miss out on the perfect read!
About the Book Author
Emily Lloyd-Jones grew up on a vineyard in rural Oregon, where she played in evergreen forests and learned to fear sheep. After graduating from Western Oregon University with an English degree, she enrolled in the publishing program at Rosemont College just outside of Philadelphia. She currently resides in Northern California, working in a bookstore by day and writing by night. You can learn more about Emily on her website – www.EmilyLloydJones.com
Title: The Bone Houses
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Published Date: September 24, 2019
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Pages: 352 pages
Reviewed by: Sarah Hopkins
Our Rating: 4.0 /5
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