The Bone Houses

The Bone Houses

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...

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Title:The Bone Houses
Author:Emily Lloyd-Jones
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Bone Houses Reviews

  • Nenia ⭐ Literary Garbage Can ⭐ Campbell

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    THE BONE HOUSES is

    , but I don't really think I agree with the comparisons to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and SKY IN THE DEEP-- if anything, it's like a cross between SABRIEL and THE BLACK CAULDRON. THE BONE HOUSES is a fantasy set in a place that seems to be based off Wales. Aderyn is a grave-digger who lives with her sister, Cerridwen, and her brother, Gareth. Their mother is dead, and their father and uncle have both disappeared myst

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    THE BONE HOUSES is

    , but I don't really think I agree with the comparisons to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and SKY IN THE DEEP-- if anything, it's like a cross between SABRIEL and THE BLACK CAULDRON. THE BONE HOUSES is a fantasy set in a place that seems to be based off Wales. Aderyn is a grave-digger who lives with her sister, Cerridwen, and her brother, Gareth. Their mother is dead, and their father and uncle have both disappeared mysteriously, leaving them all effectively orphaned.

    Aderyn goes into the forest to forage, but is mindful of her father's warnings that dangerous things rove in the trees after nightfall, including the "bone houses": or, the animated dead. They only stay in the forest and they only come after dark, but lately, Aderyn has been noticing that they have been venturing closer and closer to the edges--until one day, they're

    .

    In the meantime, their village has been graced with the presence of an unusual boy: a map-maker with chronic pain, who won't tell them his surname or why he's come to their village. Aderyn meets him when she saves his life and they end up forging an unusual alliance. Both of them need to go into the forest to find a legendary castle in the lands of the faerie, and a cauldron rumored to give life.

    So, this was fifteen different kinds of amazing. The writing was lush and gorgeous, and it set the scenery of the village and the forest

    . I was very impressed by how richly-imagined this world was, considering that it was relatively simple. It does for Welsh folklore what Naomi Novik did with Eastern European folklore in

    and

    . The faerie legends and the nod to

    made me so happy, and the Medieval village setting was so well done.

    Other things I liked about this book were the chronic pain rep (understated, but rare in fantasy), especially since Ellis was never painted as weak or as a victim. Aderyn is a strong female character who doesn't need to be brash or throw her weight around (just her axe, heh heh) to be respected. I loved her close relationship with her siblings and the family goat, and her slow-burn attraction to Ellis. The way she fought back against the injustice of the village lord who wanted to ruin her family in his greed, and the hero's journey she goes upon to find the reason the dead are rising, were both really empowering for the character and instilled her with agency. She was never passive or bland.

    Anyone who likes strong female fantasy characters and Welsh settings should pick up THE BONE HOUSES when it comes out, especially if, as I mentioned before, you enjoy Naomi Novik's work, or enjoyed SABRIEL and UPROOTED. It has that same fun, folkloric fantasy vibe, with a gloomy, Gothic edge to keep things interesting. Apparently it's a standalone too, so no need to commit. ;)

    4.5 stars

  • OutlawPoet

    So, if you're saturated with zombies and read this plot description and immediately dismiss the book, I'd suggest you at least read a sample of the book. This is good!

    You have a wonderfully unusual location, a main character who is so full of girl power and heart that you just adore her (and she carries an axe!).

    You've got a villain, a damaged hero (who is not your typical damaged hero, I assure you), and legends that just may be real...and deadly.

    The author has a lyrical way of writing that all

    So, if you're saturated with zombies and read this plot description and immediately dismiss the book, I'd suggest you at least read a sample of the book. This is good!

    You have a wonderfully unusual location, a main character who is so full of girl power and heart that you just adore her (and she carries an axe!).

    You've got a villain, a damaged hero (who is not your typical damaged hero, I assure you), and legends that just may be real...and deadly.

    The author has a lyrical way of writing that allows the edge of the story to sneak up on you.

    I loved this. I want more from this author!

  • Namera [The Literary Invertebrate]

    : it's fantastical, eerie, and gorgeously written. But also like a fairy-tale, the magic vanishes if you think too deeply about it.

    Seventeen-year-old

    is the eldest daughter of the gravedigger in the village of Colbren. Ever since her father disappeared into the forest one day, it's been her responsibility to put food on the table by burying Colbren's dead. She and her younger siblings -

    : it's fantastical, eerie, and gorgeously written. But also like a fairy-tale, the magic vanishes if you think too deeply about it.

    Seventeen-year-old

    is the eldest daughter of the gravedigger in the village of Colbren. Ever since her father disappeared into the forest one day, it's been her responsibility to put food on the table by burying Colbren's dead. She and her younger siblings - brother

    and sister

    - are heavily in debt to

    and risk eviction at any moment.

    The problem is that enough people just aren't dying. And even the ones who do die prefer cremation over burial, in order to avoid coming back as a bone house. The bone houses are basically zombies, walking skeletons, and if you wander into the forest next to Colbren you risk running into them. An eighteen-year-old mapmaker named

    discovers this the hard way: trying to spend the night in the forest, he's narrowly saved from being carried off by the bone houses when Ryn bursts into his life and destroys the skeletons. Luckily for them, bone houses aren't able to go beyond the forest's edges. Until suddenly, they are - bone houses attack Colbren, leaving destruction in their wake.

    Ryn and Ellis soon strike a deal. Ryn needs coin, and Ellis (who's somehow mysteriously connected to the prince's castle at Caer Aberhen) has plenty of it. He'll give it to her if she can take him into the forest, deeper than anyone dares to go, and through to the mountains of Annwvyl on the other side. The land there used to be the domain of Arawn Otherking, lord of the fae; though he's long gone, Ellis is determined to map the area to win fame and glory. Ryn also wants to find a way to destroy the bone houses, so she's more than happy to follow him into the land of Arawn.

    What follows is

    heavily based on Welsh mythology.

    Now, while I don't know much about Welsh mythology, I LOVED how atmospheric it made the novel. There's an old Celtic saying I read once -

    I don't precisely know what it means, but it sounds beautiful, and it's always hovered at the back of my mind. This novel was like that:

    So if you try to actually dissect it, it stops being enjoyable. I'm talking about all the questions you're left with at the end of the book. I can't actually articulate them because of spoilers, but be aware that

    doesn't try very hard to explain most of what happens.

    You really do just have to think of it as a fairy-tale. Like, the village of Colbren seems to exist mostly in a void; there are no mentions of any other places except Caer Aberhen, let alone other countries in this fantasy world. Considering she encountered bone houses in the forest literally every day, I also found it weird that Ryn couldn't make any other villagers believe her about their existence until they attacked. Nor do we get much knowledge of what the main characters look like until well over halfway through the story.

    But

    It's evocative without being purple or flowery, and the descriptions of the forest in particular are BRILLIANT. There's also a near-drowning scene which is described so well that I actually felt like I was in the water myself.

    It's extremely, extremely slow-burn: nothing happens until 85% of the way through, and even then it's more the hint of romance than anything else. But that was perfect. We get to see pages and pages of build-up as Ryn and Ellis, two very lonely people, learn how to trust and be attracted to each other's strength.

    Beautiful prose and the kind of story perfect for autumn nights, but don't look too deep.

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  • Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)

    This is an ARC, but I received it from Sam (not the publisher)!

    CW: violent scenes, corrupt government, gore, chronic pain, and loss of family

    This is a lush, imaginative, Welsh-inspired fantasy and I was so here for it.

    Aderyn, or Ryn, is the daughter of a gravedigger. After her parents die, she becomes the sole provider for herself and her two siblings, Gareth and Ceri, at their village Colbren that’s at the border of a forest.

    But this isn’t any town. Thos

    This is an ARC, but I received it from Sam (not the publisher)!

    CW: violent scenes, corrupt government, gore, chronic pain, and loss of family

    This is a lush, imaginative, Welsh-inspired fantasy and I was so here for it.

    Aderyn, or Ryn, is the daughter of a gravedigger. After her parents die, she becomes the sole provider for herself and her two siblings, Gareth and Ceri, at their village Colbren that’s at the border of a forest.

    But this isn’t any town. Those who aren’t buried properly come back to life. They’re called bone houses. And it’s part of Ryn’s job to make sure that they don’t harm Colbren. That’s all at stake when the lord of the town starts trying to kick Ryn and her family out for not paying their rent.

    Ellis is a mapmaker with no family and chronic pain. He comes to Colbren to make an accurate map of the area, but finds more than he bargains for when he runs into Ryn and ends up being sucked in to a centuries old legend.

    God, this book was amazing.

    I’ve always thought that Wales is the perfect place to set stories. And Lloyd-Jones really captures the scenery, language (and she does use the language in it), and made me feel like I was in the mystic Welsh past. I felt completely transported into this legend. I’m a huge history nerd, especially with medieval British history, and the worldbuilding was breathtaking.

    And, I mean it. This world is amazing. The lore behind this is so developed. As the story kept going, the world kept going. I loved how gradually it unfolded. One of my biggest pet peeves with fantasy is when the whole world is info-dumped on me. Lots of terms all at once and some overexplaining (or lack of explaining). The Bone Houses didn’t suffer from that problem at all. Time was taken throughout the whole book to let you explore the expanding world, which was such a joy because it’s a hard thing to balance.

    In addition to the lush world, I loved the characters. Ryn and Ellis were such great characters to follow. I found them incredibly fleshed out. Ryn with her grief and trying to provide for her family in the absence of her family. Ellis by dealing with the feeling of loss he has of being a boy with no family and how he handles having chronic pain from an old injury.

    The side characters were also great. I loved reading about Ceri and Gareth (and Goat — an actual goat, who was the true hero of all this). The villagers in Colbren were also such fun to read. It really felt like I was in a small, medieval town where people were close out of necessity to survive and because they liked each other.

    While I enjoyed all of these aspects, I also felt like the story stalled out periodically. Things just stopped and I was reading for a while, not really seeing anything new, then all of a sudden the story picked back up. It was still interesting and I finished the book, but the pacing could use some work.

    Overall, this was a fantastic stand-alone YA fantasy. I can’t wait to read it again when it’s finished!

  • ✨Brithanie Faith✨

    The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones follows a gravedigger- and an apprentice mapmaker who embark on a journey to defeat a decades-old curse that causes the dead (or in this case "bone houses") to rise- and for some unknown reason-attack with an all new ferocity that comes seemingly out of nowhere.

    Full transparency- I got sucked in by the "Buffy The Vampire Slayer meets Sky In

    The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones follows a gravedigger- and an apprentice mapmaker who embark on a journey to defeat a decades-old curse that causes the dead (or in this case "bone houses") to rise- and for some unknown reason-attack with an all new ferocity that comes seemingly out of nowhere.

    Full transparency- I got sucked in by the "Buffy The Vampire Slayer meets Sky In The Deep", and the "Perfect for fans of Holly Black and V.E. Schwab", but OMG (OH MY GOAT😉) am I glad that I did- because this was fantastic! I fell head over heels in love with these characters, and the story itself felt like an original fairy-tale that was not unlike something you'd expect from the Grimm brothers themselves.

    The expected publication for this book is the 24th of September, 2019! You'll not want to miss this once it hits the shelves!

  • Hollis

    Lloyd-Jones' story is lush, magical, and eerie. Beyond the mystical, it deals with grief, pain -- both emotion and physical -- and family; and not just the two legged variety. For all the horror and violence of the walking dead, Ryn is careful in dealing with them, respectful, even as she's forced to fight for her life against them. She struggles with the concept of what she has to do, with how it makes her a terrible person, and though we don't suffer through endless agonies. I though enough ti

    Lloyd-Jones' story is lush, magical, and eerie. Beyond the mystical, it deals with grief, pain -- both emotion and physical -- and family; and not just the two legged variety. For all the horror and violence of the walking dead, Ryn is careful in dealing with them, respectful, even as she's forced to fight for her life against them. She struggles with the concept of what she has to do, with how it makes her a terrible person, and though we don't suffer through endless agonies. I though enough time was spent -- or maybe it was just genuine enough -- to make it a good argument. Even if there was really nothing else she could do.

    This isn't my first read by this author (a fact I just realized while grabbing info for this review!) but it's definitely the first one that will follow me into my dreams. This one is going to stick with me for sure. And I can't wait to see what she writes next.

    Full review to come on release!

    ** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

  • Emily Lloyd-Jones

    Eeeek. I’m so excited to share this book with everyone. There are folktales and magic and undead corpses shambling around. There is a teenage gravedigger with a (slightly) dysfunctional family. There is a mapmaker who can never find his way. And my favorite character is a goat.

    EDIT: For more information about the book’s release and some

    , check out my website!

  • ELLIAS (elliasreads)

    Book: rising corpses and deep mystery and curses and mountains.

    Me: Hmmmm ok ok keep going.

    Book: '....standalone.'

    Me: FUCKING STOP! WHAT. SAY NO MORE!

    *adds book to TBR*

  • Tara ☽

    Hello I just want to spend the rest of my days reading books about necromancy is that too much to ask

  • Candace Robinson

    I was confused here because the book felt middle grade for me but I guess it’s YA? Sometimes it felt too wordy when I just wanted it to get some action. The world building is neat, though, just wish it was a little more fast paced.

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