Welcome to the Friday Book Club: The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones,
Okay, so I know it isn’t actually Friday. Wishful thinking. But, normally I’d have posted this review on a Friday so I’m going to keep the name and try and do better in the future. The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones is a YA novel I started weeks ago. My intention was to be done weeks ago. It is no fault of the book though that my plans went awry. It’s life. Between having family over for July 4th and then a week of dog puke, dog poop, and dog escapes, there was little time left for reading. Thankfully, Kita is doing better on a diet of rice and chicken, and we’re hoping that whatever upset her tummy won’t continue once we switch her back onto her normal food. But, enough about pups and life.
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
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 into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the deeply-buried truths about themselves. Equal parts classic horror novel and original fairytale, The Bone Houses will have you spellbound from the very first page. (From Amazon)
First off, I will start by saying I am glad I read this tale. My friend Michelle, an avid reader, recommended it knowing what she does about my own novel, Of Ash & Shadow, and it’s background in Celtic mythology. Whereas I delve heavily into the Irish lore, Ms. Lloyd-Jones uses Welsh mythology for the cultural background of her story.
Aderyn, Ryn for short, is a fun heroine to follow. She is everything a proper lady isn’t and for that, she is quite endearing. She’s not the best in social situations and yet I know I’d want her as a friend. Ellis is her exact opposite, better trained for high society, and entirely out of place within the small town of Colbren. Due to an old injury, Ellis is less suited to fighting, though he holds his own when he must, it makes their teaming up a fun flip on old tropes.
While both protagonists are easy to like for their flaws and their strengths, the secondary characters too are filled with life – even the Bone Houses, the risen dead. I think, funnily enough, my favorite secondary character would have to be the family goat. She is thoroughly amusing throughout and I honestly looked forward to her every appearance.
The Bone Houses does read like a classic fairytale, though I don’t really count it as horror. Though I enjoyed the tale, it did not make my heart clench or my pulse race in the manner I would expect from a horror novel. Of course, that could just be me, and just because I don’t believe it isn’t horror doesn’t mean it isn’t still a great story.
Unlike some other YA where the story moves you speedily along, racing for the end, The Bone Houses read more like a leisurely stroll. I found myself wanting to read slower, not because the story was boring or the writing hard to understand, but because the natural pace is like Ryn and Ellis’s journey – winding and carefully measured. The read felt much like how Ellis makes his maps, it takes a little longer, but in the end, it’s worth the extra time.
Ultimately, I’d recommend The Bone Houses to anyone who just wants a fun read.