Title: The Bone Houses
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical/Horror
Release Date: September 24th 2019 from Little, Brown for Young Readers
Format: Kindle ARC
Goodreads Synopsis: 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 about Ellis 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 received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no quotations will be used. A huge thank you to the publisher for the digital review copy**
As soon as this book and cover were announced, I was OVER THE MOON about this book! I love creepy books, especially with the rising un-dead since it reminds me of my favorite series: The Old Kingdom by Garth Nix. So when I got an ARC from Edelweiss, I flipped and was overjoyed for being able to read this early. So what did I think? This not only has one of my TOP favorite covers this year, but one of my top favorite books of all time. This book was so masterfully crafted as a standalone and it was creepy, beautiful and completely satisfying in every way. So here are five reasons to not only read this book, but one that you should pre-order as well 🙂
- Atmosphere: This book takes place in the small village of Colbren, a forest where the Fae used to live and a few other locations. This world feels very “old world” with the small village of Colbren, the superstitions that people have about the forest and how simple people live. But then as the bone houses rise in the night, you feel that uncertainty of not only being watched, but the fact that a bone house could emerge without warning. The author really makes this atmosphere quiet, unsettling and also magical as well. The atmosphere was one thing that reminded me of The Old Kingdom series of a vast open world with undead wandering around.
- Character Dynamics: I love how all the characters interacted with each other. Ryn has two siblings Ceridwen and Gareth that she has to care for, since both their parents are gone. But Gareth and Ryn have complicated feelings towards each other, since Ryn believes in the old ways and always goes into the forest to provide food for them. Gareth is more of realist and is tired of Ryn disappearing in the woods all the time, when they could go to another village to start over again. But you see that Ryn has almost no choice but go into the forest to gather food since her occupation as a gravedigger isn’t needed anymore, since the dead are rising. The author shows you both sides of why the family act and feel which was so real. Then you have Ryn interacting with Ellis, a boy whose a mapmaker and makes his way to Colbren. They don’t completely trust each other, but decide to work together to stop the bone houses from rising. I like how they rely on each other, but aren’t distracted by romance like some YA books are. They’re both people with their own intentions that eventually learn to trust in one another.
- Perfect pacing: Right from the first page, I knew this book was gonna immerse me into this story and I got sucked in. This book has PERFECT pacing, with having tales of the Annwyn and the dilemma with the bone houses. The author takes you on a ride that’s part journey story, part survival. I was never bored once and I loved the world building was seamlessly aligned with the pacing. It never felt like the story paused to explain the world; instead, the author takes you along this journey and you learn things with the characters along the way. There’s a dull moment, but instead, filled with adventure and the dead. Plus with being a standalone, the pacing was perfect in unraveling the whole story and the end is completely satisfying.
- Take on the dead: It may seem like a story you’ve heard before about two people who try to stop the dead from rising, but I also liked how the author shows this type of story. I liked how you learn about the bone houses and some small surprises were fun to find out. The author does show how much of a threat the dead are to the village of Colbren and our main characters and they are a focal point of the story. Also, even though the fae aren’t present in this story, their past is left in the story and you feel the impression of when the Otherking lived there. If you like books with the rising un-dead, don’t miss out on this book!
- Masterful writing style: I already knew that Emily Lloyd-Jones was an author to read more from when I read The Hearts We Sold a month or two ago. She writes this story so perfectly! She approaches family, how to remember the dead, how to try and live when those you love are gone and also protecting what you love with real and raw emotion. Although I can’t share quotes in this review, I highlighted SO many passages or sentences that really spoke to me. Emily Lloyd-Jones really knows her characters and what they’re feeling and she shows their emotions without telling you. She uses the “less is more” very well, since some meaningful paragraphs are only a few sentences yet they pack such a punch. Her writing is just impeccable, so she is a writer I look up to, since I want to be published someday.
Overall: This book was everything to me! If a book can suck you and refuse to let you go with the prologue/first chapter, you know it’s gonna be good. I loved how dark this book got and this story was perfectly balanced of nasty un-dead things, but also being about a story about two people who try to come to terms with their lives. I felt so much for Ryn and Ellis and their story arc was so satisfying. There’s also a loyal goat that is EPIC and an amazing sidekick. If there’s any fall release to make a reading priority, this is one to not miss, especially during Halloween.
Have you read this book? If so, did you love it as well? Are you excited for it? Let me know in the comments!