Cover Image: Wake the Bones

Wake the Bones

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Member Reviews

I really tried to like this, and I did at first, but as the chapters continued, I found myself continuously frustrated with most of the characters, and while the plot is intriguing, I just can't finish it right now. 

I might try to resume this later, and I hope I get to finish it to figure out the ending, but ultimately it just wasn't for me.  I will say that the writing was quite engaging at times and that there were some genuinely creepy moments. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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When big city living doesn’t work for Laurel, she returns to her childhood home in Kentucky to way much more than expected!  
This story may start out a little slow, but it delivers an amazing ending! Wake the bones is Young Adult Southern Gothic Horror at its finest. I love the creepy and magical elements in this book. 
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys gothic, magic, and young adult novels. 
Thank you to St. Martin's Press, Wednesday Books and Netgalley for the opportunity to read Wake the Bones!
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This story sort of unraveled the further in you got to the book. I liked the set-up, the descriptions, but the characters were really flat. In general, I didn’t think there needed to be four main characters, and was confused as to why we would get random chapters from other people’s POV rather than Laurel. They didn’t add to the story and if anything, made Laurel seem like a side character.

I felt that there was a lack of focus with this book, and the plot tried to juggle too many things at once. Because of this, emotional beats didn't always land and a lot of the narrative felt under-explained and underdeveloped.

I don’t want to delve into spoilers, but I didn’t like the shift from the weird and creepy monstrous to something from a Supernatural episode, especially because it wasn’t developed enough and kind of felt like it came out of nowhere. And ironically, the twist is included in the book’s blurb, but it still lacked tension and build-up for me. Furthermore, in general, the ending was confusing and felt kind of rushed.

This was the author’s debut, I believe, and I really enjoyed the concept and atmosphere and setting, but felt that not enough was done to develop the characters and their relationship. I’m interested in seeing what the author comes out with next, though! The creativity of the concept and atmospheric writing was impressive and surely the author is one to continue to look out for.
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This book was so unique and gripping, and I very much enjoyed this engaging story! It's very different from what I've been reading lately but it was so good.
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I really enjoy horror books so when this one became available to request I had to request it and I loved it completely!
 Laurel is known in her town as being the "Daughter of the Devil" and is returning to her hometown after basically finding out that college wasn't for her. Laurel is living and working on her family's farm, seems like your average girl but she has a very peculiar hobby. She enjoys working with bones and has the ability to read them and be able to see the death of the owners of the bones. But, one-day things changed and her bones walked away. With this, she started knowing that evil was at work on her land. 
While this definitely is a great book to get the whole creepy aspect and read in the dark the author tells this story with a passion and the writing portrays the passion very well! I think this author has a great perspective on grief and how it changes and the hopelessness of that grief.   I love how the author weaves the story with different POV's and how she puts the magic in the story so effortlessly! If you love a good paranormal mystery with a splash of horror then this should be your next read! Thank you Netgalley and Wednesday Books for the unprecedented opportunity to read this one! I will definitely be looking out for more books by this author!
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Laurel Early has lived a simple life on her family farm in Kentucky. She had thought to get away by attending college, but she has just dropped out and is back home. Her uncle tells her she’s an adult, so it’s time to get to work. Making a living means growing and harvesting tobacco and keeping up with all the other work on the property. Laurel also does taxidermy and collects bones, cleaning them and making them into jewelry or other items. A little magic manifests in her as she holds them: sometimes, she can feel how the creature died.

Her mother, Anna, on the other hand, worked stronger magic: “whatever field she slipped her fingers into always produced a good yield.” But Anna was hated and envied by her community. And then she’d fallen to her death in a well on the property when Laurel was just a baby.

Laurel isn’t a favorite in the community, either, but she does have her best friends, all young men. And she knows one of them could really pin her down into a predictable life if she let him (she does long to let him sometimes…).

Then a horrible creature made of bones — from Laurel’s collection — starts to terrorize her. A devil who haunted her mother is back for Laurel. The only way to save herself and those she loves is to figure out the truth of what Anna did years before and find a way to unravel it. That includes tapping into deeper magic than she knew she was capable of.

Wake the Bones definitely has elements of Southern Gothic. Elizabeth Kilcoyne writes lush descriptions of the town and countryside and the magic that resides there. The interactions between the characters are also layered, thick, and rich with meaning. Quite often she comes at things sideways, whether in dialogue or in her prose, like a good Southerner, and it’s so roundabout that too often her meaning is obscure. I re-read a number of passages several times, trying to be sure I understood what was meant. But I felt the meaning slipping away from my grasp, so I was a bit confused here and there. The prose felt sometimes as thick as the humidity she writes about, and I think it would have benefited from a few “drier spells,” so to speak, to enable more clarity.

It’s a well-written young adult book, and I’m sure people who love Southern Gothic will eat it up, but it wasn’t fully to my taste.
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This book seemingly had everything I could want but it fell flat for me. However there was an inclusion of trigger warnings which I appreciated. They are mental and physical abuse, violence and suicide, body horror, guns, post partum depression, drugs, animal death and blood. There’s also a more complete list on the author’s website.

I’ll be quick about it. The characters weren’t as developed as I would have liked. They came across flat and never really fleshed out. They’re people going through some serious situations and yet they didn’t feel real or solid.

The atmosphere was great but it didn’t do the story any favors. By which I mean, the atmosphere was better than the story itself.

We’ve got a character who goes from surprised by magic to just accepting it on a dime, it wasn’t really believable. It’s off-putting how the characters act. Their relationships are so wishy-washy and don’t make sense. Their reactions to things don’t make sense.

The magic system doesn’t make sense, things sort of just happen just because? Like the author kept adding in more and more things without giving them proper room to breathe and grown and actually make sense in the plot.

What’s most infuriating is the writing itself, word choice and sentence construction isn’t bad. It’s actually very nice. But that doesn’t make up for a weak plot with weak characters.

I do appreciate the inclusion of a list of trigger warnings. That will always be a plus for me. I just wish the story had been good.

This gets a two (2) out of five (5) from me. And that’s for the writing. I can’t recommend this book.

I received this eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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3.5 stars. Knocked the book an entire star for the violent killing of rabbits. So tired of "horror" books needing to kill animals, usually bunnies. Otherwise it would have been 4.5 stars.

I really enjoyed the creepy aspects, the relationships, the supernatural parts. This was such a good story. Imagine your mother dying to drag something down with her that wanted to kill you. And then coming back to warn you and give you a tooth. Super fricken weird.
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This book was not exactly what I was expecting but I also really enjoyed it. Wake the Bones ended up being a fast read because I was so drawn in by the creepiness of it all. 

The book centers mainly around Laurel Early but also around her friends Isaac, Ricky, and Garrett. There's a lot going on with the characters including a complicated friendship between Isaac and Laurel, a strained desire between Laurel and Ricky, a nice sibling relationship between Ricky and Garrett, and a secret attraction between Garrett and Isaac. Like I said, there's a lot going on. Despite this, the characters were easy to keep distinct from one another. 

To be honest, I could have done without the romance between Ricky and Laurel. It's not that I didn't like it them together, it's more that I didn't feel like I knew the characters well enough to see them together and their dynamic was hard to grasp. Still, the ending between the two was really interesting and had beautiful imagery. I liked the lgbtq+ rep with Isaac and Garrett and enjoyed their arc. 

The creepy meter was lighting up like crazy during this book and I loved all of it. The creature made of bones was described in amazing detail, from the look of it to the smell of it, and I was loving the wrongness of the scenes painted. The concept of a haunted farm and the creature was fantastic and it was written perfectly to create a very eerie atmosphere. 

The writing did a pretty good job of toeing the line between mysterious and just plain confusing. There's definitely an element of disjointedness but I feel like some of that has to do with the characters' fright and confusion with the devil's presence. Still, I would have liked to see more of an explanation given for the land's magic, Laurel's magic, and the evil on the farm. I would have also liked more of a presence from Christine, the local pariah/witch, who seemed to only serve the purpose of helping Laurel and the others defeat the evil on the farm. I feel like there's definitely an audience out there who likes things to be a little more blurred and atmospheric but I like my atmosphere alongside a plot with a little more explanation. 

Although I didn't have a great grasp on who the characters really were and some of the finer points of the plot I found myself quickly turning the pages and wanting to know what would happen next. I loved the bone monster and the perception of death on the farm, how it was something final and yet cyclical and able to take a new shape. The creepy atmosphere was great and I loved the desolate feel of the setting. 

I would recommend this to folks looking for a creepy, dark magical vibe. This would be a great book to read during the spooky season and I would definitely read more from this author.
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Wake the Bones by Elizabeth Kilcoyne is one of the creepiest books I’ve read this year. 🦴

Laurel Early grew up on her family’s farm with her uncle. The tobacco  farm has always been a magical place she loves but something has changed.  There’s a devil on the farm, taking from the land and spreading terror. The same devil responsible for her mother’s death.  While Laurel’s powers grow so does the evil. It’s up to her and the three boys she grew up with to try and save her land and themselves.  

This book is an intense YA horror story with imagery so descriptive that I was a little freaked out reading alone at night. I was very surprised when the monster’s name was the same as the ghost story that my family told growing up when I would visit NC in the summers. It was certainly creepy to see the name Bloody Bones in a book. 
It’s also a story of love and how it can keep us from letting go. It’s a story about deep grief, loss and family secrets. It’s also the story of friendship and young love.  The characters were likable and I appreciated the LGBTQ representation. I really liked the side characters in this book.  

Domestic violence 
Child abuse 

Thank you to @netgalley and @stMartinspress for the free digital copy. All views ore my own opinion.
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I had such high hopes for this book, but honestly it ended up being quite a dissapointment. 

I was expecting something much scarier and gruesome, and though lt definitely had some scenes that were a bit unconfortable, I wanted to be more scared by it, and shat end up happening was me getting pretty bored with the storyline and its ending.

When it comes to the characters, I have to say I wasn’t rooting for any of them and overall didn’t particularly loved their development and their take to the story. They were pretty bland and boring, and their interactions sometimes felt a bit forced. Also the way they were introduced in the book was so odd, and it took me a while to know the relationship between each character.

Overall, though in theory this book sounded like a perfect creepy summer story, I really didn’t care for the story nor the characters. I will sill hunt for similar premises, because these type of books have a pattern that I like, but I guess this one didn’t reach my expectations.
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Wake the Bones isn't like anything I've read recently.  My biggest challenge with this review is figuring out how to properly classify it.  It simply doesn't fit into any one box.  It's a little bit of several things:  horror, mystical realism, paranormal, romance, and probably more.  The author does a wonderful job of world building.  Her descriptions of the setting are quite thorough and you can picture the images easily.  

It took me a while to make all the connections with the plot lines but once I did, I was quite impressed with the flow.  It is a slowly paced book with bursts of action here and there.  This means the reader has to be patient.  There's a great deal of setup and buildup written into the book.  

The main character, Laurel has recently returned back to her home town after being at college.  This puts her back in the mix with her three friends - Isaac, Ricky and Garrett.  They've known each other since childhood but now it's approaching the time for them to each decide what to do with their futures.  Laurel is haunted by the knowledge of her mother's death in the well on their property years before and it's messing with her ability to focus on anything else.  Also, Laurel has some "abilities" and senses something might be after her.

As the story progresses, the reader discovers there is a creature made of bones in pursuit of Laurel that continues to tell her it wants her bones.  It seems indestructible and Laurel knows she's going to have to find a way to fight it with magic.  She just doesn't know exactly how.

I thought the main plot was quite clever and the twists and turns it takes are smart as well.  In addition, there are some well done sub plots woven into the story.  Overall, this was a well written and enjoyable book.  I will look to read more by this author in the future.

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW:  I thought the narrator did a fantastic job.  The audiobook was extremely well-done and entertaining.  It made the book feel more like a production to me.  (Just my personal opinion).  There are some books that present better as audio and some that don't present as well.  I feel that this one was a little bit better as an audio. 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with not only an ARC but also an early copy of the audiobook.  I voluntarily chose to review both and the opinions contained in this review are my own.
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This was beautifully written and creepy, I'm just not a horror type a girl. If you like horror, YA or adult and very atmospheric and dark gothic books, then you will devour this one in no time.
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Laurel Early dropped out of college and hoped to return home to resume life as a taxidermist and tobacco farmer. The land has changed, and the same devil that tried to court her mother years before is now coming to her. Laurel must unravel her mother's legacy and her own magic, before it's too late.

Magic here is a psychic sense, Laurel knows how animals died when she touches the bones that she finds on the land before cleaning then up for crafting. Growing up in rural Kentucky, she didn't expect much more than hard work, but oddness surrounds the family farm. First are gouts of blood and flowers stuffed into a rotten deer carcass. Next come dreams, a skeleton frightening her and her best friend Isaac, and then more strange things that defy explanation. Feeling out of sorts and homesick for a place that changed without her, Laurel doesn't know what her next step will be. It's not much of a surprise that Isaac wants to leave, since being gay in rural America is about as wanted as strangers moving into the valley, but then she really would be alone.

The rural area depicted here is a dry and unforgiving place. Loneliness and desperation plague the young people, and that's even without magic ratcheting up their fear. Ultimately, the story is a melancholy one, with grief and loss underlying the fear. The devil that stalks the farm waiting for Laurel is greedy to devour life, and she's known so much loss already. Still, out of loss and decay, new growth can arise. That's the truth of nature, which Laurel's mother forgot in trying to contain the demon she tried to raise. Change is inevitable, but accepting that helps build a future. This is a thoughtful book, it's magic bound up in growth and the love people have for one another.
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"Wake the Bones" was wonderfully creepy. An atmospheric YA (although I would almost argue it's NA) horror, and there were moments where I re-read sentences because it was so beautifully written.

And yet, for me this was a three-star book. Laurel, Ricky, Garrett, and Isaac started off as interesting characters. They are characters who are trapped in a small town with small minded people. Often, characters would voice what they didn't like about the town, but the town as a whole felt like a neglected setting. This is because most of the story takes part on Laurel's farm, so the setting is largely based around it. As the story progressed into its final stages though, I didn't feel like there was any improvement in the characters' situations. I didn't feel pulled to any of the characters and their troubles, and I wasn't invested in the final showdown.

As a three-star book, I can easily say that I liked it. In terms of setting the atmosphere, this is one of the best stories I've read all year. I just wish that I liked the actual story as much as I liked the writing style.

Thank you Netgalley and St Martin's Press for an advanced e-copy of this book. "Wake the Bones" is currently a new release; released on July 12th, 2022. The story takes place in the summer, and I felt the summer heat in this one- a great summer going into fall/October read.
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Incredibly interesting, spooky book about the horrors of leaving ones home as well as the horrors of said home when one returns. Laurel and her friends from her small town are incredibly interesting and relatable and their own problems we see struck me as very grounded which is nice to see when concurrent to issues such as horror aspects and the supernatural.
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Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press, for an ebook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Ah,  this was a fantasy, paranormal YA story that grabbed me right from the start.  Our MC Laurel returns to her small town after deciding college is not for her.  Reuniting with long time friends she is drawn into the world of magic and must immerse herself into that world to save herself and her friends.
I enjoyed the world this story was set in, with many characters coming together to fight town secrets and demons together.  It reminded me of T Kingfisher's stories and the weird paranormal worlds.  Where this story fell a bit short for me was the side struggles, her friends who struggled with their sexuality and living in small town blues.  I think there was too much trying to be accomplished in the story.  I would have liked to dive a little deeper into the magics and spirits of the town. 

Overall a fun read, and maybe I expected more from a YA.  On a positive note, there was not a lot of teenage angst whining or sexual activities, which I prefer not to have in the story.
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Wake the Bones is such a cool, unique novel. I really don't think I've read anything like it before. The only similar-ish thing I can think of (and even then it's kind of a stretch) is Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford.  I've been reading a lot of horror lately that deals with eco-horror as well as generational trauma passed down from mothers to daughters, and everything I've read has been so good, including Wake the Bones. Elizabeth Kilcoyne's writing flows like poetry, and reading her words made me feel like I was sinking into a beautiful, velvet blanket because of its smoothness and warmth. Her characters are interesting and complex, especially Laurel and Christine, who were particular standouts for me.

The twist around the 80% mark was one that I didn't see coming, and my jaw dropped when I got to it. And then the big reveal at the end that shows what happened to one of the characters is one of the cooler, more unique wrap-ups to a character than I've seen in a long time. Overall, Wake the Bones is absolutely wonderful, and I highly recommend it!
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A huge thank you to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

// Content Warnings: mental and physical abuse, violence, suicide, dental trauma, guns, postpartum depression, drug usage, animal death, blood, and abuse by an alcoholic parent //

Please educate yourself on the content warnings for this novel before reading, as I may have missed some in my review.


// Quick Statistics //
Overall: 3.5/5 Stars
Characters: 3/5 Stars
Writing: 5/5 Stars
Setting: 3/5 Stars
Plot: 3/5 Stars
Memorability: 4/5 Stars


// Quick Review //
I find it very difficult to review this novel because I am not quite sure how I feel about it. There were many intriguing aspects that I loved but there were also many things that I didn’t enjoy about Wake the Bones.


// Other Information //
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Page Count: 320 pages
Release Date: July 12, 2022
Series: None
Tags: Fiction, Young adult, Fantasy, Contemporary, Romance, Horror, Paranormal, Urban fantasy, Gothic


// Review //
Wake the Bones is an unsettling yet beautifully crafted tale of sacrifice, love, and magic. Full of hidden horrors, the novel follows the story of four young adults navigating a farm that holds an evil power set on their destruction.

When I first started this novel, I was absolutely in love with the characters. They were beautifully written. Laurel, Isaac, Ricky, and Garrett all help out on Uncle Jay’s (Laurel’s uncle) farm and have been friends since they were little. The main character, Laurel, lost her mother at a young age and now her whole world is changed drastically by the reveal of true wickedness that has invaded the land she loves and tends to. The relationships between the characters were obvious at the start. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed and adored them. Isaac and Garrett’s and Laurel and Ricky’s relationships were written very well and colorfully.

A great aspect of Wake the Bones is that not only is the plot driven by a devil-like threat, but also the character’s inner struggles. Isaac struggles to be himself in the small town the story describes. Although he would like to be with Garrett, he wishes to leave while Garrett wishes to stay and live the life he has thus known. Similarly, Ricky and Laurel’s relationship is along the lines of the enemies-to-lovers trope. Both of these added tensions to the scenes that already felt suspenseful.

However, I felt that the character development was somewhat lacking. The story contains magic but also takes place in a world fairly similar. Laurel is somewhat aware of the powers she has, but her friends disregard the validity of her claims… until the second half of the novel. They all of a sudden believe in magic? It felt unrealistic and like it came out of nowhere. Also, though Laurel was already used to having magic, she claimed to be incapable of having control of her powers. Except, when she has to use them in a life or death scenario, all of a sudden she becomes an expert in using the earth to fight off a demon? And it is not as if there was a time skip between her being unable to control her powers and not; this takes place on the same day. I would have liked to of seen her fail a little bit before getting a hang of using her magic. It would have been more realistic and made more sense.

I was absolutely in love with the first half of the book. The suspense beautifully built up and made me anticipate when Laurel would finally fight the villain of this story. The first half was solid and well-paced, unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the second half. All of a sudden it felt rushed and did not flow well, or make sense. A big reveal occurs yet there is hardly any time before Laurel is fighting with the ‘devil’. The twist and turns really had no effect on the story because there was no time to see the characters react and adapt to them. This made major parts of the novel lose their emphasis.

Overall, there was a lot of potential and good aspects, but the novel fell short in the second half. However, I still enjoyed reading Wake the Bones and would recommend it to those looking for a paranormal novel full of exciting characters, a rural setting, and a similar feeling to Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
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The author did an amazing job with the setting descriptions. I was able to conjure vivid image of the setting in my mind as I was reading and the author’s description made me feel like I’d lived in the small town where this story took place. Similarly, the atmosphere of the small town and the interactions of its inhabitants were well written, realistic, and relatable. I appreciated how author wove all of these things together to create a somewhat unsettling setting that focused on its tenuous relationship with nature. I also really enjoyed Laurel’s character. She was a well written protagonist, with the right amount of conflicting feelings, strength, and personality to make for a genuine character. 

That being said, the secondary characters in this book fell flat for me. I also thought that the plot was a little slow in getting off the ground. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend for those who have enjoyed books like Small Favors
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