Title: The Bone Houses
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
My Rating: 3 stars
“The next time night fell, the surface of the lake quivered. A bone tipped hand emerged from its waters. Figures draped in tattered clothing and rusted armor dragged themselves ashore. The things that crawled from the lake were sinew and rotting flesh. They were silent, with hollow eyes and bodies that caved in. They were called bone houses.”
This book is full of adventure, and there are many tense moments. Dark caves, lakes full of monsters, and walking corpses- to name a few. The bone houses are reanimated people come back from the grave, and while you may think that this would make them weak and slow, that was definitely not the case. They can fight with swords, can fire crossbows, and can even continue to battle with their heads chopped off. (Turned out, the dead were like chickens. They didn’t need heads to blunder about.)
– the atmosphere was enjoyable, there was an adorable headstrong goat, the enemies were actually scary
– strong emphasis on family/community and taking care of each other, acceptance of others and not judging them
– creative myths that turned this into a fairytale of sorts, everything is tied together nicely
– the world felt small, characters weren’t described in detail
– could have used more depth, read as very “intro-to-fantasy”
– the romance was sudden
This might be a small knit pick, but I didn’t like that the character’s appearances weren’t described very well or very early on in the story. We didn’t find out what color hair Ryn had til halfway through the book. I know it’s not a huge thing, but knowing what the characters look like helps me to visualize things in my mind, and I had a hard time with what each character looked like. Thankfully the author did describe the world/setting and the bone houses in a way that made them easy to imagine.
“You think we’ve had too easy a time of it?”
“Yes,” he said simply. “Which means there’ll probably be more monsters ahead.”
I think this book would be better for someone that is newer to the fantasy genre. I’ve read SO many books in this genre and I’ve come to expect depth and surprises and to feel strong emotions while I’m reading. The Bone Houses didn’t really make me feel much of anything, and while the plot was interesting, it was also pretty predictable. There’s nothing groundbreaking about this story- the characters are lovable while being a bit flat, the world building is solid but small, and the narrative is fast paced and somewhat uninspiring.
“She followed for the same reason she had begged her mother for tales of monsters. Monsters were unrestrained, unbound, and beautiful in their destruction. They could be slain but they would never be truly defeated. And perhaps, even back then, Ryn thought that if she could love the monsters—then she could love those monstrous parts of herself.”
I really did enjoy this book, but it felt like it was missing an extra layer throughout. The premise was something new and the ending was satisfying; I loved how there was a focus on acceptance and family throughout. For a story that was about the risen dead, it reads more like a fairytale than I would have expected, and that totally worked. I was able to finish this in a day, and the writing flowed wonderfully. I would’ve loved for The Bone Houses to be a longer series instead of a standalone so that the author could have brought it more depth, and I would be interested to read more novels set in this world or something similar in the future.