Book Review: The Bone Houses, by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Let’s be honest, one of the main reasons I was drawn to this book was because of its cover…Wow! Although this was initially a book that was down at the bottom of my TBR’s, I am impressed by how quick of a read it was (once I finally sat down and read it!). Due to my procrastinatory nature, as well as the fact that I was reading six other books when I first picked up this one, this book has been resting on my shelf for four months and it took a reminder from my library to light the fire under my rear to finally get reading!

Ryn, a feisty young gravedigger, has done everything she can to keep her brother and sister safe after the death of her mother and the disappearance of her father. But when the dead start rising at the edge of her village, she realizes she has work cut out for her. After meeting a mysterious young mapmaker named Ellis, she realizes that he may be helpful in her quest to destroy these cursed bone houses. They both embark on a journey to the fantastical realm from a local legend that may hold the key to the demise of these rising dead. The further their journey takes them, the sooner the both of them realize that they are both connected to the legend in personal ways.

Dislikes:

  • Slow beginning. While I enjoyed the overall story, as I stated before it took me a while to get into the story. The beginning seemed a bit cheesy to me: a girl plunging her ax into walking skeletons. However, I think my procrastination was due more my own motivation versus the actual quality of the story.
  • Occasional lulls. For a thriller, it did occasionally lull, which I expected after I learned there was a quest involved; all tales that contain quests do tend to offer respite at times.

Likes:

  • Humor. I enjoyed the bits of sarcasm and occasional inner monologue jabs the author gave to her characters.
  • Characters. The girl is not overly beautiful. The boy is not obviously macho. They both have flaws, but they step up to the plate to defend their lives despite their physical and psychological weaknesses. I admire authors who craft characters that step beyond the cliché boundaries of popular fiction and instead make characters, even fantasy ones, realistic.
  • Love story. Some readers may argue that the romance was underdeveloped, but I actually admired its pacing and the overall love-story that existed between the protagonists. The slow build was necessary to the story and did not come off as an afterthought; it was well-placed and was created in respect to the already-developed characteristics of the protagonists.
  • Language. There were a lot of quotes that communicated the wisdom of the characters; things they realized amidst the violent trials they were facing and the value of depending on one another to protect those they loved.

“Monsters were unrestrained, unbound, and beautiful in their destruction. They could be slain but they would never be truly defeated … Ryn thought that if she could love the monsters—then she could love those monstrous parts of herself.”

The Bone Houses, page 243
  • Narration. The author chose to narrate the tale in third person but sectioned out the story so that the narrator focused on the thoughts/actions of one of the characters, which I thought worked well for this story. She describes the thought processes of the characters but never in an info-dump kind of way and I enjoy that in any book.

It was fun to read the acknowledgments at the end of the book, since I haven’t read anything by this author before. She incorporates some of the same humor into her gratitude for her contributors that she includes throughout the book. Apparently, she has written other books and I am curious to read some of her other thrillers.

Weaved with romance, horror, and fantasy, this tale is perfect for readers who enjoy unique horrors in the teen/YA genre. This book is a fun one to read at night by firelight in preparation for the spooky season!

*Content Advisory*

  • Language: 1/5 (I also enjoyed the fact that there was no swearing. Whenever a character swears, the author just says, “she cursed” or “he spat out a curse”. Kudos!)
  • Sex: 0/5
  • Violence/Gore: 3/5
  • Drugs/Alcohol: 1/5

Published by Ashley Weaver

I am a writer, reader, student, and teacher of literature and the English language.

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