Bonavere Howl

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

This was my first book by this author, It was pretty enjoyable. I would give this book a 3.5 star rating! It was a pretty Quick and easy read!
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I just don't think this book was for me. The plot felt sloppy and I have no answers to any of the questions raised in the story. I feel like there is a story waiting to come out of this but it's just not there yet. It seemed ike I was missing something the whole time and then something cool would happen and fizzle out
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Being from the South I really enjoyed this book,the way I call it ,the way the old South used to be! These girls are for sure from the South but different in so many ways. You enjoy getting to know these girls and what they do how their lives turn out to be. The history is so right on where you re!ally put yourself into their stories. You will enjoy the "Southern Charm"
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4 stars for an incredibly enjoyable read.

Look, I'm a simple person: I see a swamp on the cover of a book, so I click. I read a description that screams "It's Southern Gothic, Niki!!", so I request the title on NetGalley. I'm granted the title, I read it, it reminds me of season 1 of True Detective and also The Little Friend by Donna Tartt (which, admittedly, I didn't LOVE, but it was still wonderfully atmospheric and memorable), so I give it 4 stars almost automatically. I'm that simple.

All jokes aside, this seemed like the book for me from the get-go, and I'm really happy I was right. This is a Southern Gothic book set in the 50s and a story that begins with a girl's mysterious disappearance, her sister uncovering a conspiracy about one of New Orleans' oldest families, and all the dominoes crumbling because of that, mostly in familial relationships. All of the above is paired with a very descriptive writing style and plenty of lovingly rendered New Orleans scenery, something I really, really love (like many other people- NOLA is a very popular tourist spot, after all, I'm not trying to be special here)

I mentioned Donna Tartt earlier, and I really do think that Caitlin Galway was inspired by her. The writing style reminded me of Donna, the entire book was very reminiscent of The Little Friend (in which a child is murdered and we follow the youngest sister trying to uncover who did it, aided by a guy friend of hers for most of the book. while her family is crumbling down around her), and there's even a mention of bacchanals and "losing yourself completely" ("The Secret History") However, this is clearly just inspiration and (maybe, if I'm right) a bit of an homage to the work of someone you admire, and I'm only pointing it out because I recognized it as a big Donna Tartt fan, not to say that it was wrong. I absolutely respect homages.

The reason it's missing a star is because I think the plot could have been a little more tight. For example, SPOILER!!!!! Saul and his family are very prominent in the beginning of the story (and we're even told something about Dalcour making a formal complaint about his assault, nothing comes from it though), but they're rather suddenly dropped during the second/ third part of the book. Amy seems almost deranged out of her mind when she first meets Bonnie in the swamp, but then she's very articulate and sane when they meet again at her house. Fritzi miraculously recovering from her pneumonia after being bed-ridden for days and being able to save Bonnie by breaking down doors with an axe as a little ridiculous, as was her decision to burn down the greenhouse even when she's not familiar enough with the layout of the place to have an escape plan. The fact that the family's grief wasn't explored enough, even though it was a central theme. END SPOILER!!! Small details like that.

But I was still very, very happy with the book. It was exactly what I hoped it would be.
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I so enjoyed the author’s descriptions. Her writing made you feel the Louisiana heat, and smell the swamp and feel the despair and loss. The story has many twists and turns. There were a few things that annoyed me, like the fact that Bonnie seemed oblivious to the racism in the South. However, even the annoying parts were surpassed by the writing. It has been a while since I have read a book that has transported me the way this book did.
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Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgally for review purposes.

I don't know what it was about this book, but it was really, really hard for me to get into. I could tell it was well written but I couldn't get any real feeling or expression from it, it just came across as kind of heavy and flat.

I also got most of the characters mixed up. In the beginning I had to keep re-reading continously trying to get a feel and remember the girls but couldn't. 🤷

Overall I felt confused and like I was missing something.
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I received a free copy of Bonavere Howl from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review of the book.  1955 in Now Orleans, Louisiana is a time of racial tension and great economic divide.  Caitlin Galway does a super job in expressing these areas without making it larger than it needs to be.  2 sisters are now looking for their missing sister.  2 disappearance's happened several years ago and those girls were never found.  Bonnie is determined that will not be the way her sisters disappearance ends.  Caitlin Galway does a super job of making you feel like you are in Louisiana right there with Bonnie and her sister.  A great story, I look forward to reading more from this author.
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I found this book a bit hard to get into, but overall, I appreciated the ambience and setting. Location was definitely a character in this novel, which is always a big selling point for me.
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Southern gothic slow burner that pulls the reader in with great atmospheric details. The journey to find a missing sister and the impact of events on 13 year old Bonavere made this such a satisfying read.
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Title:  Bonavere Howl
Author:  Caitlin Galway
Genre:  Historical fiction, middle grade
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

In New Orleans in 1955, the languid heat presses down on everything. Thirteen-year-old Bonavere, the youngest of the Bonavere sisters, has her best friend Saul to turn to and her two older sisters. Her parents pay the sisters no mind, even when middle sister Constance goes missing.

Some of the blame falls on Saul and his family because of their race, but Bonavere knows that isn’t true, so she sets out to find what really happened to Constance. Her questions lead her to the wealthy Lasalle family, and stories of girls found half-mad in the nearby swamps. Bonavere has no idea what secrets she’ll stir up when she starts asking questions. She just wants her sister back.

I’ll read just about anything set in New Orleans, and this novel captures the feel of the city very well:  the heat, the cobbled streets, the craziness…However, most of the story itself is a bit inexplicable to me. Things happened, but I couldn’t always see the connection to them and anything else, and I’m still not sure exactly what was going on.

Caitlin Galway’s newest novel is Bonavere Howl.

(Galley courtesy of Guernica Editions via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
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I will often pick a book for the setting, and Bonavere Howl was one I chose simply because the blurb said New Orleans. New Orleans is one of my very favorite cities to visit, I love its vibe and its energy and its people so much. One of my best friends is from New Orleans, and I love just listening to her talk about her hometown. So when I saw this, I had to read it.

If you have ever been to the Crescent City, you will know what that swampy, sticky, humid heat feels like. And Galway evokes this feeling, that lazy, energy sapping heat, that makes you want to just hide out in the shade with a big old glass of something cold, listening to some music, daydreaming. This sense permeates this book, and I read it during a particularly cold and damp week here in Michigan. The murky feeling penetrates to the plot of the book as well, not just the setting, but also the central mystery. Bonavere is a young woman whose sister just goes up and missing one evening, and Bonavere takes it upon herself to figure out where she disappeared to when it seems no one is looking hard enough. She has many accomplices throughout her search – her best friend Saul, her oldest sister Fritzie, but it is Bonavere’s perseverance that stands out. She is determined to find her sister, or at least the truth of where or what happened to her. Bonavere must contend with many obstacles along the way as well, including putting her friend Saul’s life and that of his family’s life, into danger.

The main focus is on the three sisters and their relationship. In some ways I was reminded of The Virgin Suicides, with the girls having a closeness and no one else really knowing or understanding them fully. Fritzie and Connie and Bonnie have a strong sisterly bond, one forged it seems through some parental indifference to the three girls. Bonnie never gives up on trying to find her sister, and just the fact that Connie’s presence is missing in the house lies palpably upon the two sisters remaining.

I was slowly sucked into this story, which languidly leads you down different paths until the final, chilling ending. A slow read, but a good one.
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This book is set in Louisiana. If that is all I said, it would be enough.  Steeped in gothic mystery and things that go bump in the night, Bonavere Howl is all of that.  Three sisters as close as can be when one of them disappears without a trace. The parent grieve but the girls are determined to do something about it. These girls have guts and will stop at nothing to find out what happened to their sister. This book has a  racial tensions, mental illness, and bullies that the girls deal with but the story line is good.  I liked how Bonnie didn't really care what anyone thought and her friendship with Theo caused trouble in their town. She didn't care and included him in one of her investigations that landed them both in the hot seat. She never stopped needing his friendship. I would recommend it for when you have uninterrupted time to settle in with a good book.
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It is the things objected to by some of the readers of this novel, the wordy descriptions, and depth of the story, that I found irresistible.  This is not a cozy mystery, but rather of delving into the intricacy of the relationship between sisters and the prejudices and hardness of the southern lifestyle in the 1950s.  There is little 'sweet' or 'cozy' about this book.  But it is a book I could not put down, a novel I am pleased to refer to friends and family. Caitlin Galway will go on my favorite author's list. 
 
I received a free electronic copy of this book from Netgalley, Caitlin Galway, and Guernica Editions.  Thank you all, for sharing your hard work with me.  I have read this book of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work.
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This book was wonderfully atmospheric, with a rich and immersive sense of time and setting. I absolutely felt like I was in New Orleans, and in the swamp. However, there were quite a few threads and characters that were started and didn't go anywhere, and the ending was deeply unsatisfying.
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Historical fiction that just oozes Southern Gothic.  Bonavere's sister's disappearance and the search for her don't go well. With the police doing virtually nothing, her parents either drugged or absent, and her sister doing her own thing, Bonnie at first tries to find her sister with the help of a black friend (doesn't end well) and then on her own (again, doesn't end well).  There is history, creepy bayous, plantation homes and tons of atmosphere.  Having said that, there was something slightly off.  Perhaps it was because there was no one I cared about in this book, or perhaps it was because all the events felt forced.

eARC provided by publisher.
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This was such a wonderful read! I love stories set in Louisiana. The author really brought the place alive. She captured the mysterious essence of the land with her touch on voodoo and the swampland. New Orleans is such a magical place. I especially liked how real Bonnie’s love was for her sister and the lengths she went to to try and find her. Unfortunately, there are more secrets to be found besides finding out what happened to her sister. I can’t say enough about how good this book was. Very original. Thank you so much to NetGalley for providing me with a copy!
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. Ghosts, voodoo, swamps and crazy eyed girls found lost in the woods. When Connie asks Bonnie to hold on to a special necklace for her, it is the last time anyone sees her. While no one seems too concerned, Bonnie is determined to find out what happened to her sister.

The descriptions of the city were spot on. As was the racism. It seemed unfinished however. There were things that happened with other characters but little information on their motives and parts of it at the end didn’t seem believable. The book was filled with so many descriptions it seemed to distract from the story. 

I usually love southern gothic mysteries but this one fell sort for me.
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The story of this book drew me in. The writing is also quite beautiful. At times, it was to the point where I'm not even sure it's appropriate for such language to come from the perspective of a character as young as Bonnie is. However, it did not put me off and besides, it was a different time period. Who am I to know how quickly kids mature at that time, in addition to the effect of the manner they were brought up in this particular tale? In any case, this was the type of story where I was put into suspense, and really felt for and with the characters. There were times when I got annoyed at Bonnie, the main character, for her very rash, and frankly, stupid decisions. However, there I see the naiveté and youthfulness that I was looking for. Children or teens, while having their heart in the right place, can and do make some unwise decisions which can make things worse, and which could have been avoided by being calm, or thinking just a bit more.  

As mentioned, while I do get annoyed at Bonnie sometimes, I quite like her, and I did cheer her on as she went about trying to find her sister. I also liked the other characters, especially Bonnie's friend Saul, as he is just a precious kid (he was partly the reason I got annoyed at Bonnie because I really just want to protect him). I also sympathized with Bonnie's sisters, although I am not sure I fully understood them. 

The story is another one of those that at some point I couldn't stop reading, and I had to really force myself to pause because I wanted to finish some other titles first, among other things. It was also realistic with its themes and with the way it resolved some of the issues that developed, but it still had that surreal feeling brought about by the setting in New Orleans, and the other themes that come with it, such as voodoo, which brought about just enough creepiness to add to the whole plot. Despite not wanting to stop reading, I did not feel the need to rush myself or skim pages just to get to the reveal of what happened to Bonnie's sister, or if there is any solution to the problems that popped up along the way. It was a tense ride, but I enjoyed it very much. 

I will say I am not sure if the ending satisfied me, but is it really supposed to? 

All in all, this is a story I'm glad I found and read. If you want a suspenseful read, with just a touch of the eerie and voodoo, and some nice use of language, you may like this. I know I did.
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A dark adventure down a deep rabbit hole.  So many people have criticized this book for being wordy and to dense - I completely disagree.  If you're typically a cozy-mystery reader or just enjoy light reading, it's probably not for you.  But if you're up for writing that will challenge you, and get under your skin - give it a shot.  Galway's writing is thick and heavy like the atmosphere of the story.  Sweltering New Orleans heat, a sickly sheen over things as Bonavere and her remaining sister battle physical sickness, as well as depression, and find themselves teetering on the brink of true madness.  Not many writers would dare to describe sunlight filtering into a room with adjectives usually used to describe things like mucus - but man, if it doesn't get the picture across.  And it certainly isn't gross or disturbing writing, I just think Galway dares to think outside the box to convey a vivd message to the reader.
I couldn't put it down.  
I've also seen criticism of the book for some of the wording and analogies being confusing - again I disagree.  I did have a hard time understanding exactly what was happening to Bonavere sometimes because of the way she would describe what was happening to her - but she's a thirteen year old girl.  She was confused, and was experiencing thoughts and feelings and events that were well beyond her years and experience.  It's like Bonavere was describing things the best way she knew how.   (For example, describing fainting and having only a partial view or feeling of someone/something lowering her to the floor.)
I admit that I was concerned before I started reading about where the content of this book might go, if there would be graphic or disturbing content, but there is no sexual content in this book, and no graphic content.  There is some drug use, some of it involuntary, but for anyone else concerned based on the book's description, it's not going where you think it might.  
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I love historical fiction, I love New Orleans, and I loved Galway's writing.  It did get me out of my typical "reading comfort zone" a bit, just with the style of writing, but after reading a string of mostly cozy mysteries with some romance, it felt like a good brain exercise.  I loved the story, I relished the descriptions, and I will certainly read more by Caitlin Galway.
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This novel was definitely a four-star read. I greatly enjoyed reading “Bonavere Howl”, so much so that when I finished reading, I missed the book. I loved the characters of  Bonnie and her sister Fritzi. Caitlin Galway brought the 2 girls to life through her literary artistry. Ms. Galway used her gift of writing to perfectly describe the landscape of New Orleans. It was as if I was standing in the countryside breathing its air, reveling in its colors. This novel was a terrific read, but I had a hard time getting into it. On many occasions, during the first 30% of it, I almost gave up & put it aside. The beginning was so slow. Nothing was going on. It was just Bonnie, lying around & mourning her missing sister Connie. I couldn’t see the workings of the plot. There appeared to be nothing happening. And what was the deal with their parents?  The girls’ parents were never around. There was very little interaction between the girls & their parents. These girls were teenagers—— Bonnie was 14 & Fritzi was 16. They came & went wherever they pleased with no parental oversight. The parents never asked them about their daily affairs; didn’t object when Bonnie & Fritzi didn’t go to school; let them stay out all night. It was as if they had no parents. I thought their home situation was very strange, especially as the story was set in 1955. 
The novel picked up speed when Bonnie began to investigate the incidences of missing teenagers over the past few years, as she assembled the facts & tied them into a connection between the missing or dead girls and an illustrious New Orleans family.  Then the plot began developing, & the mystery was revealed. At the end of the story the parents are finally interacting with Bonnie & Fritzi like normal parents. The reader never discovers what really happened to Connie. Ms. Galway leaves Connie’s fate up to the reader’s imagination. We can only hypothesize but never truly know her fate. Despite the slow start I enjoyed this novel. By the time I read the last page, Bonnie & Fritzi were as familiar to me as a friend. The author probes deeply into Bonnie’s psyche, & the reader is pulled along by Ms. Galway’s prose.
For readers of women’s fiction & mystery stories, I recommend this novel. 
Thank you, NetGalley & the publisher Guernica Editions, Inc. for the opportunity to read & review this novel.
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