“The dead deserve something,” she said, trying to explain in a way a layman might understand. “A remembrance, a marker, a place to rest. Death should be peaceful—the dead have earned that much. The bone houses—they’re a mockery of death. Burning them . . . it’s a last resort, not a way out.”
If you’re in the market for a beautifully written, atmospheric story to get you in the mood for autumn, look no further: The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones is one you won’t want to miss.
When I first saw reviews of this book, the synopsis and cover immediately yelled YA horror at me. After reading it though, I can say this isn’t quite true (I judged too quickly!). Yes, the story centers around a curse that brings the dead back to life (which are referred to as bone houses instead of zombies, which, I think, makes them less scary), but the author also weaves in fantasy elements that make the story beautiful rather than spooky.
What exactly is this curse? I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that the author used this as a sort of back story that allowed for some serious world-building. As a reader, you understand almost everything about the world where the book takes place, which, if your imagination is like mine, will totally transport you while reading. The descriptions are wonderful, the detail is incredible, and you’ll find yourself walking through the forest with the main characters.
The story follows Ryn, a seventeen year old gravedigger who is trying to make ends meet in order to take care of her family’s house and younger siblings after her parents pass away. One night while walking through the forest, she meets Ellis, a young mapmaker, who is ironically lost. The two quickly find themselves working together, and journeying out into places they never thought they’d find themselves.
The Bone Houses totally swept me away. It was eerie, but focused on the love that Ryn had for her family and village. She’s a strong heroine, and often put her fears aside to protect her siblings and her family’s homestead. Plus, her respect for death and dying was lovely to read. It’s not often that a character who faces so many hardships still manages to keep a positive outlook, but Ryn does. Plus, her sister’s goat helps along the way (you’ll understand once you read the book).
This book certainly has a bit of a scary plot, but it’s elegantly written and beautifully told. The eerie chills that you get will be offset by the lovable characters, and you’ll find yourself totally lost in their world while reading.
If you’re looking for a book that screams “fall reading” be sure to add this one to your list immediately.
Thank you to HBG Canada for a copy of this book in exchange for a review. The Bone Houses will be available on September 24, 2019, and can be purchased wherever books are sold.