Don’t judge a book by its zombies… or undead, really. These aren’t your typical zombies. Bone Houses, as they are, do wreak their havoc on humankind, but aren’t the slam them in the brains Walking Dead type norm. Instead, they are enchanted by the remains of magic and a curse.
Thank you to Little Brown Books and NetGalley for an Arc in exchange for an honest review.
And even if that doesn’t get you past the zombie idea. There is the dark forest so wickedly built up in Emily Lloyd-Jones’ lush world and the main character, Ryn.
Wonderfully strong in the midst of her grief. Fiercely loyal to her siblings, Ryn is the town’s gravedigger (a job less needed as time goes on), to keep the family afloat after the death of their mother and disappearance of their father.
Their deadbeat uncle and appointed caretaker has up, and runoff. Simultaneously scared and brave, a quote from Game of Thrones kept running through my mind that best describes her.
Lloyd-Jones writing truly shines in bringing to life a simple but vibrant forest that most of Bone House takes place in. However how the supporting cast comes to life around Ryn and the lost mapmaker, Ellis, is not to be overlooked.
Hapless Ellis. A boy who wants desperately to help and by all means, a mapmaker that should, by all rights, be able to help. Except. No.
Who is he? Can’t tell you.
Where is he from? Doesn’t know that either.
Can he help? He thinks he can. And with nothing else to go on, and the attacks of the Bone Houses growing by the day. Ryn has nothing left but her own fortitude, and a gamble to give it a shot.
The chemistry between Ryn and Ellis is undeniable with snappy, quick dialogue that brings a sense of humor to what could have easily been an overbearingly, dreary story.
Bring in a goat (yes goat) that pops in and out of the story, built-in a way that truly works, and there is a light heartedness that makes the it all work. It provides just the right amount of quirky banter, action and wit.
Without it, the heft of grief, search for answers to the Bone House plague, and perilous journeys faced might have become just too depressing.
But combine these elements and your heart remains hopeful, your emotions aren’t stagnant in the deluge of struggle, but find respite, while rooting for the characters. Engagement with the action-packed plot is heightened, gripping readers in suspense right through the end.
At just over 300 pages Bone Houses is an atmospheric, quick read that is perfect for fall and the upcoming Halloween season. Spooky and suspenseful, with underlying tones of grief, family dynamics and finding out who you are, Lloyd-Jones has crafted a wonderful book to curl up with this season.