The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: September 24, 2019
Format: hardcover | Source: library/purchased
Genres: young adult, historical fantasy, horror
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 deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves.
I loved this SO much! I am all about atmosphere and character-driven novels, and this blends both beautifully. Horror fantasy/horror fairy tale really is the best way to describe The Bone Houses- it’s set in a vaguely Welsh-medieval town on the edge of a haunted forest (my catnip) with lovely prose, a haunting backstory, and a strong, stubborn MC you want to root for.
I loved Ryn’s character and her relationship with Ellis, who was a very worthy co-main character. I loved getting glimpses of the journey from both of their points of view. Ellis also has chronic pain which informed his character but was not his only trait by far. It seems like a sensitive, honest portrayal. Their contrast in personalities worked so well together; there is a romantic subplot but it never overtakes the main story while still remaining worthy and lovely. So. Much. Adventure and peril! I will mention that there is an animal death, but hang in there for another chapter because it is not what you think (nor is it graphic). The goat is one of the best parts!
I also always love getting the fairy tale-like backstory of a place so I really liked the stories about the Otherking in the mountain and the history of the Bone Houses. There is a lot about what makes someone a monster and what makes someone human, which sounds like a theme of the author’s writing based on some of her previous books. The story was straightforward enough but threw some curve balls and had a lot of truly creepy scenes. A lot of the story involved death and grief and the power of words, and had this bittersweet tinge of longing. I know I’ll be thinking about it for a long time, I enjoyed every word. It’s a perfect book to read in the fall/early winter!
Do you enjoy genre-mashup books? Is The Bone Houses on your TBR? What have you been reading this month? Let me know!