Cover Image: Wake the Bones

Wake the Bones

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Member Reviews

I didn't realize this was YA going in, but honestly I really loved it. I don't typically like YA paranormal/horror books, but this one was much better than I thought it would be! I loved the atmosphere of the world and the characters were really enjoyable. (And I always love to see LGBT+ rep in books, so that was a positive). This was a fun, mysterious YA horror that I think fans of Rory Power's Wilder Girls will like a lot--it has got a similar vibe and is also not afraid to throw in some more intense themes that you don't see a ton of in YA. I had a really good time with this work and am looking forward to more by this author. I will say I wish the pacing was a teeny bit faster, but I'm torn because then we wouldn't have gotten as much time in this fascinating and wonderful world as we did!
Please check this novel out!

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A complex work that entwines life and death, growth and rot, veins and vines. A beautifully descriptive look at life on a rural tobacco farm and the connection between a farmer's land and themselves. The story of Laurel Early shows the magic and subtlety of how where you come from becomes a part of you, and you of it. As well as touching in a frank yet poetic way on grief, loss, love, and the warping power of desperation. At the same time this book is equally about magic and connection. With a hint of Christian spirituality in the witchcraft, I was entranced with the way this world works.
Not for the squeamish, this story pushed my limit on gory while somehow still striking me as beautiful. The magic in the mundane. The simplicity and depth to be found in every character. I feel as though I've walked this town, smelled the air, felt the dirt under my fingers, the hot sun on my face. You live this book while you read it.

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Wake The Bones is a YA horror/paranormal book. This follows Laurel who goes back home and finds ghosts awakening in her town. It's unfinished business from her mother's fight with a devil. Her friends Ricky, Garrett and Isaac help her as well another girl from town named Christine. I wish Christine had played a bigger role and we got to know more about her character. I really liked Garrett and Isaac though, always happy to see LGBT+ characters represented in YA books! This book really reminded me of Wilder Girls and What We Harvest. It's a fun horror book but tw for gore, animal death, blood, infection, etc.

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Wake the Bones. The title alone gives one chills, and the book did a spectacular job of living up to the title.

Laurel Early was orphaned at a young age when her mother inexplicably threw herself down the well of their farm. Raised by her uncle, she left for college, and when the book opens, has returned to the family’s rural tobacco farm after she drops out of college due to bad grades. She works the farm with three male childhood friends, along with their uncle. Soon after her return, creepy things begin to happen on the farm, and Laurel starts to have visions of her dead mother, and sees an evil figure roaming the farmlands. The story turns into a slow burn, with the tension slowly being ratcheted up, as Laurel and her friends are drawn deeper into the unknown.

Part ghost story, and part coming of age story, Wake the Bones was well written and deftly executed. Kilcoyne’s writing is so evocative at times that you can feel the humid heat of the weather, the oppressiveness of the forest swamps, and feel the terror of the main characters when they encounter evil. The characters are well drawn and sympathetic. My only complaint, and it’s a minor one, is that the book could have been edited in such a way as to cut down on the characters’ back stories, which for me proved to be a bit distracting.

Overall, a fine debut novel, and a great read.

My thanks to St. Martin’s Press and to. Netgalley for an ARC of Wake the Bones.

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Wake the Bones was so good. It gave me the mystery and creepiness that I enjoy similar to when I read And the Trees Crept In. I liked the characters, plot, pacing, and world building. Thr pacing was fast but it worked for this story.

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Bones, rot, ghosts, and a devil who hungers. Laurel Early is the daughter of a woman who was known as the Daughter of the Devil, she was feared, she was hated, and she was magic. After her mother’s death Laurel has been living on the sleepy little farm with her uncle. After failing and dropping out of college she is back home and things have begun to get strange. Laurel has always had this knack for seeing through the bones of things, seeing how they died. So when dead animals filled with plants and blood start appearing in front of her and she starts seeing her mother’s ghost again... she knows something or someone is after her. To accompany her is her best friend Isaac, who wants nothing more than to escape this little town, the mechanic Garrett who is in love with him, and the mechanic’s brother Ricky, a boy who both irritates Laurel but might also be something more to her. With more dead creatures showing up and coming after Laurel and her loved ones she is going to have to face her mother’s past and see if she can fix the rot in the land. Sacrifices will be made and a price must be paid. This was a beautiful and dark read about finding your own fate and finding a place that you know is your own home. Throw in a little bit of romance, lots of bone and creature descriptions, and a little bit of ghosts and gore and you get a fantastic read.

*Thanks Netgalley and St. Martin's Press, Wednesday Books for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review*

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Kilcoyne writes with a pen dipped in the blood of wild game. Her descriptions evoke the weight of summer heat, the stings and the sweat of long days outdoors. The setting and the characters feed into one another to ratchet up the simmering tensions of brittle lies, thwarted goals, conflicting attractions. The characters are interesting and likeable in a sometimes complicated way, mirrored to one another. Garrett was a runaway favourite. Atmosphere reigns supreme, and the Southern horror elements give this book a distinct and captivating flavour.

Good ghosts, good characters, good macabre. Exciting descriptions and a fast-driving plot make it a compelling read. The short time span of the novel's events, yet all that happens in that time, heightens the story's stakes. I loved it.

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This book is so, so creepy. I am not usually one that can handle reading books with animal death, and I HATE taxidermy, but the overall storyline intrigued me so I decided to give it a shot. I did enjoy it! The magic was really interesting, and I loved the characters. I look forward to reading more from this author.

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Wake the Bones by Elizabeth Kilcoyne

322 Pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press / Wednesday Books
Release Date: July 12, 2022

Fiction, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Teens, Young Adult, Magic, Farming, LGBTQIA+, Domestic Violence

Laurel Early lives on a tobacco farm with her uncle Jay. She went to one semester of college near Cincinnati, Ohio but was put on academic probation so she left. Laurel’s mother died when she was a baby, so she was raised by Jay. Her friends, Ricky, his brother Garrett, and Isaac work on the farm. Weird things are starting to happen on the farm. A devil monster made of bones forms and Laurel’s mother’s ghost comes to visit her.

The story has a quick pace, the characters are developed, and it is written in the third person point of view. The budding relationships between the characters at time cause friction among them. The writing is description, and the reader can feel the high dryness of the summer. I read this book in one sitting and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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3.5/5

wake the bones is an atmospheric, lyrical story about a group of friends struggling to decide their futures while fighting an ancient evil lurking in the tobacco fields of their small town.

i really enjoyed this book! the writing is exceptional and completely immerses you into the story - you can almost feel the heat of the sun and hear the cicadas as you're reading. i also really enjoyed the horror elements (especially that first interaction on the road). i found myself really relating to the characters. all of them being in their early 20s and struggling to decide what they want to do with their futures really resonated with me and i saw pieces of myself in all of them.

this book feels very reminiscent of the raven cycle to me, with the lyrical writing, the vibrant atmosphere, and the group of friends working against an evil prowling the woods. although it's similar, it does feel very different, and it took me over half the book to even make the connection. it's definitely not a negative, and i think anyone who likes the raven cycle will really enjoy wake the bones as well.

as it usually is with standalones for me, i wish there'd been more detail about the magic system and more of the history of their town. i wish the author had gone more in depth about what exactly "The Devil" was as well as the origins and reasoning for the creatures they encounter. i just wanted a bit more explanation.

overall i really enjoyed this and will likely be picking up a physical copy when it releases in july!!

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Wake The Bones is about Laurel Early, the farmland she lives on, and a devil. The same devil that haunted her mother years ago.

Elizabeth Kilcoyne's prose is lush, heat of the summer-y. My favorite bit of this story is the atmosphere and setting of the Early farm, and the little moments of quiet in the farmhouse. I didn't realize when I first picked this up that it is YA, but I feel it is certainly on the higher age range of young adult! It is full of magic, and explorations of grief and survival and the way these intertwine.

I enjoyed a lot of this book, from the beginning all the way to a very climactic point where it began to feel a little disjointed for me, though it is possible this was my own reading of it and not anything to do with the crafting of the story itself. I have a little itch to go back and reread this when it comes out in physical format for a more cohesive experience! I think the magic is interestingly woven through, Laurel and her mother being the dynamic I enjoyed reading the most.

3.5 stars! I will be keeping an eye out to see what this author writes next! Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this e-book!

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I am so bummed that Wake the Bones wasn’t the right book for me. The synopsis sounded like something I would love. I thought this book was going to be THE one for me. Unfortunately, I really struggled to finish it. The writing just didn’t mesh well with me and the pacing was a little too slow. I never felt like I was fully invested in the characters (except Isaac) or the overall plot.

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Series Info/Source: This is a stand alone book. I got this as an eGalley from Netgalley to review.

Thoughts: This was a well done story about four young adults (in their 20’s) trying to figure out what to do with their lives after college. They live in a small farming town that makes its living off of growing tobacco. Laurel tried college but ended up back at home helping her uncle at the farm and making/selling jewelry from the bones of dead animals she finds in the woods. Then things get weird. Bone monsters are haunting the woods and something evil wants Laurel for some unknown purpose.

The writing style of this book is somewhat dreamy, incredibly descriptive, and a bit ambiguous. It reminds me a lot of Maggie Stievater’s writing style, in fact this book reminded me a lot of her Raven Cycle series but not as elaborate. I loved the description, you really felt like you are in the story with the characters and you can hear, taste, and feel their surroundings. I enjoyed the characters as well, they are complex and have issues of their own. Every single character in this book is well done, intriguing and fun to read about. There is some subtle magic or maybe more of a magical realism feel throughout.

This story is as much about the struggles of these young adults as it is about the monster that haunts the woods. They are all a bit aimless but dream of different things and don’t know how to get there. There are heavy coming-of-age themes here woven in with the strange magic. I really enjoyed the small town setting too.

All in all this was a perfect read for me at the moment. It’s very atmospheric, a bit creepy, but reminded me of lazy summers in my early adulthood…when I didn’t have many responsibilities and I still wasn’t sure exactly where I was going. The story wraps up well and although what happens is a bit ambiguous, the story didn’t feel unfinished or confusing.

My Summary (4/5): Overall this was a well done book that I enjoyed. The writing style is unique and well done; very dreamy, descriptive, and a bit ambiguous. If you enjoy Steifvater’s writing style I think you will enjoy Kilcoyne as well. This was an excellent debut novel. I really enjoyed the small town setting, the complex characters, the subtle magic, and the dreamy darkly atmospheric feel to the novel. I will definitely be checking out Kilcoyne’s future books. I went into this not knowing what to expect and enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would

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Laurel Early flunked out of school to return home. Surrounded by her friends, working on the fields and at her taxidermy art, she feels home. At least, until she feels haunted by her dead mother. And she’s attacked by a frankenstein monster of bones.

Wake the Bones is billed as dark and atmospheric, and it delivers both in spades. I found Laurel’s laconic relationship with her uncle and the unsaid longing for her friend Ricky perhaps even more haunting.

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I loved this book, the characters were so three dimensional, the plot was unique and the story telling was stellar. It's been a long time since I've read a fresh idea that was so well thought out, with talented magic building within the framework of our actual world. Very cool read!

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I love the concept behind this book, and I'm an utter sucker for a contemporary spin on a southern gothic, but something about this book just didn't gel fully with me. It's hard to pinpoint, but I wasn't engaged even once I was pretty deep into the story. This is fully a me problem, and I know others will adore this weird, dark, strange world--I can't wait for it to find the right readers.

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the vibe. THE. VIBE. it was very gothic-horror-esque and i loved it. for a debut novel this was incredibly well done. i'm looking forward to what else this author has in store.

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I really liked this book! I enjoyed the dreamy narrative style, although at times I wished for a little more clarity around significant events in the plot. I liked Laurel, and I like that she's a complex protagonist who sometimes makes bad choices. I liked Isaac and Garrett, although at times I wished they were a little more fleshed out. Overall, a really solid, enjoyable read.

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DNF at 22% / A really great concept, but just wasn't really for me and I could not get into it and struggled to pay attention.

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This book had some serious potential, but when it got down to the actual story, there was much there. There was very little set up, the entire thing was disjointed, scenes come from nowhere and end up nowhere. The entire story could have been told in about half the time. The characters backstories were very random, and didn’t do anything to tie the story together. Why did there need to be any love interests for any of the main characters? Just felt extra and totally unnecessary. The only saving grace, that it almost got the spookiness right.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me an eARC in exchange for my review.

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