January 14, 2020
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
A story about a town next to a magical forest where the dead come to life at night. A local gravedigger and mapmaker new to town join together to travel deep into the forest in an attempt to learn more about the magic of the forest and end the curse that doesn’t let the dead stay dead.
My main complaint about this book was that the author would get stuck on one descriptive word and use it several times within a few passages to pages, then move on to a new one. There needs to be more variation in word choice. For example, towards the beginning everyone was “hastening”, then towards the end everyone had “bloodless lips”. The repetition really stuck out to be noticeable and memorable, which was annoying.
I also really wish that this book included a map. I absolutely love when books have a map, and it makes it easier to follow along if it’s an adventure story. A map wasn’t necessary to follow along with Ryn and Ellis’s journey, but I feel like it would have been easier to understand their path and would have been more fun to follow along.
Other than that, I really enjoyed this book. Normally I don’t like zombies because I don’t really like the concept that the brain keeps working even after the body has died and so on, but I loved the zombie concept of The Bone Houses because it’s not your usual cause. The cause of the “zombies” in this story involves magic. This book is great for those of you who, like me, enjoy magic, adventure, and mystery.
I found the characters very likable. Ryn is a strong female, which I love, and love how good she is with an axe. Ellis is a good secondary main character, with a good chemistry to Ryn, and I love his mysterious past. I really liked how the story was told in third person, but would switch between the perspectives of Ryn and Ellis, giving a full telling with the third person while also adding the inner thoughts that first person usually provides.
I am very much an endings person. The ending of a book (or movie) can completely determine my feelings towards it. Having said this, I really really loved the way The Bone Houses ended. There is an unexpected twist at the end - but not so unexpected that it comes completely out of nowhere - that makes everything make sense and adds to all of the mysteries within the story being answered.
I highly recommend this book, especially if you’re in the mood for something spooky.
My biggest reactions were to the mysteries of the disappearance of Ryn’s dad and of Ellis’s past.
I was hoping the whole time that Ryn would eventually find her dad. My hopes heightened as she and Ellis planned to go into the forest in search of the cauldron to break the curse. I was honestly hoping that her father would be alive, just bad been lost or something along those lines. I was sad when he was found dead, but do feel like it made sense to the story for him to be a bone house. I teared up when Ryn realized it was him because he left his half of the wooden spoon on her bag. That moment further proved that the bone houses weren’t all bad and retained memory of who they were, which goes against the usual concept of being a zombie. I’m just glad that Ryn finally found her father so she could have closure.
The twist at the end that I mentioned earlier is the discovery of Ellis’s past. The story tells how the prince found him as a young boy and brought him up in the castle. However, Ellis mentions not remembering anything before the prince found him. He didn’t remember his parents or where he was from. This bothered him, and is part of what drove him to travel as a mapmaker, hoping to find out where he came from. It’s also mentioned that his shoulder has pained him ever since he could remember, with the possibility that he was hurt and didn’t heal properly. Additionally, the story of the cauldron was told. About three quarters of the way through the book, I suspected that Ellis was the boy from the story, that the boy didn’t die after all. My suspicion was right, but I was still surprised that Ellis’s mother was behind the magic of the bone houses. It was really a surprising twist that she was staying alive until she found her son and kept others alive as well. It’s sad that Ellis’s parents had died also, but again at least he was able to find out what happened to them and who he is. At least he was able to see his mother and talk to her one last time before she fully passed on.
Finally, I was devastated when the goat was killed, but surprised and ecstatic that she became a bone house. She was a really lovable character, being loyal to Ryn and helping them out along the way, and also providing comic relief. I was devastated again that she fully died when the bone house curse was broken at the end, but at least she was able to “live” longer, making her death easier to take.
Again, I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.
“‘Death is not to be feared,’ he said. ‘But nor can it be forsaken.’”
“The forest did not scare her; rather, she wanted to be like it: ageless and impervious, cruel and beautiful.
Death could not touch it.”
“The other young women of Colbren were finding spouses, joining the cantref armies, or taking up a socially acceptable trade. When she tried to imagine doing the same, she could not. She was a half-wild creature that loved a graveyard, the first taste of misty night air, and the heft of a shovel.”
“This was the problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren.
Nothing stayed buried forever.”
“‘I grew up thinking monsters could be slain.’
‘Ah,’ he said. ‘And I grew up thinking people were the monsters.’”
“To love someone was to lose them. Whether it was to illness or injury or the passage of time.
It was a risk, to love someone. To do so with the full knowledge that they’d leave someday.
Then to let go of them, when they did.”
“This is how the bone houses were defeated.
With a whispered name.”
“This - this was what came after. Living.
She would carry the dead with her, but now she wouldn’t be burdened by them. They were a weight that would lessen with every step; not because the memories would fade, but because she’d be stronger for bearing them.
And perhaps this was the truth about the dead.
You went on.
They’d want you to.”
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