Title: The Cold Is In Her Bones
Author: Peternelle Van Arsdale
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: January 22, 2019 from Margaret K. McElderry Books
Format: Kindle ARC
Goodreads Synopsis: Milla knows two things to be true: Demons are real, and fear will keep her safe.
Milla’s whole world is her family’s farm. She is never allowed to travel to the village and her only friend is her beloved older brother, Niklas. When a bright-eyed girl named Iris comes to stay, Milla hopes her loneliness might finally be coming to an end. But Iris has a secret she’s forbidden to share: The village is cursed by a demon who possesses girls at random, and the townspeople live in terror of who it will come for next.
Now, it seems, the demon has come for Iris. When Iris is captured and imprisoned with other possessed girls, Milla leaves home to rescue her and break the curse forever. Her only company on the journey is a terrible new secret of her own: Milla is changing, too, and may soon be a demon herself.
* I requested and received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review. No quotations from the book will be used and all thoughts and opinions are my own*
I got a surprise email recently that I got approved for this ARC on NetGalley and I immediately downloaded it later that day. I hadn’t heard any reviews except from 2 people I follow on Goodreads that had read it. The only reason I knew about this author was the booktuber Chelsea Palmer who enjoyed her debut novel. But all of this aside, I was very interested in reading this book since it wasn’t only under the radar as far as popularity, but it’s inspired by the myth of Medusa. And I’m SO happy to say that this was my first 5 star read of the year and I read this book in 2 sittings. This never happens to me at all; I haven’t been able to read a book that fast in forever. But here are five reasons why you should check this book out:
1. Mastery of page length
This book is under 300 pages to be plain with you. I was curious of how the author would handle a quiet fantasy like this in under 300 pages. This was one of the best parts of the book. The entire atmosphere felt quiet but heavy with foreboding that reminded me of movies like The Village. Peternelle Van Arsdale balances the characters, the mythology and the growing dread of the demons so well! I couldn’t stop reading 🙂
2. Writing Style
The writing style is this sophomore novel by Van Arsdale is astonishing and it gripped me with her quiet power. The writing is honest and never holds back of the anger and restraint that Milla feels as she tries to figure out not only what’s going on, but what’s happening to her. The imagery is often times melancholy, brimming with frustration and a sad look at how people treat each others differences. Her word choices are simple but they hold power and command your attention.
3. Original Spin on Inspiration
This book is inspired by the Medusa myth and while not every element of the Gorgon myth is used, I loved seeing a different story with a fun spin on the myth. I had been wanting a Medusa-esque book for years and I finally got one! This book is also a fairy tale in a few ways, with the setting, types of characters and also a creepy demon. But only that, the author truly brings themes that I think most fairy tales don’t bring to light as much. This is a refreshing fairy tale type story with Medusa elements that is sure to satisfy readers who want something different.
4. It made me feel things
I don’t get emotional a lot in books to the point where the book stays with me for a decent amount of time. Whenever I have talked about this book and recommending it, I’m reminded of the way the story develops. The ending made me feel things and it reminded me how we should try to deal with our problems. The ending is very clear with amazing imagery and it brings the heart of the book into full swing. There is also a deep friendship between Milla and a girl named Iris, who goes to live near Milla’s home. While this book is short in length, this friendship similar to how much we can rely on someone and how one person can help us see the better in ourselves and help us be more brave. It was satisfying in every way 🙂
5. Themes & Growth of Milla
I know I’ve touched on the themes a bit already in this review, but to me, the main themes were: female anger, finding your inner strength, different kinds of anger, forgiveness and true friendships. This book shows the suppression of women in simple minded villages. They aren’t allowed to be angry, which is something that truly makes you as the reader angry. They just have to serve other people and aren’t allowed any time to truly be themselves. With Milla only knowing her parents, brother and home, she’s never known anything else until the demon’s curse comes to her door. Milla feels the temptation of the anger that creeps along her consciousness, because in those moments, she feels understood and feels the courage to actually be herself. But balance of that temptation with the real terror of the curse and Milla is thrown into a scary situation of trying to fix the demon’s curse. I was engrossed in the two times it took me to finish the book; I cared for Milla, whose mother was always criticizing her and the fear of this demon and also losing her friend. There was so much that became finely layered to create a truly gripping story 🙂 This original fairy tale story is for those who love strong writing, creepy atmosphere and fantastic themes with a touch of Medusa thrown in.
Have you read this book? If so, did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below!