Cover Image: Wake the Bones

Wake the Bones

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Member Reviews

I want to thank #Netgalley, and #Wednesdaybooks. I loved #WaketheBones!!!! It is such an interesting book. I preordered it before I even finished reading it. Laurel is a very interesting character. I can't decide if I felt bad for her in the book or not. She is one of those characters that you certainly like but there is an edge to her she's gravelly if that makes any sense. I loved the description of the town of Dry Valley it felt like I was there and in a sense it reminded me of what my hometown used to be like.
Laurels friends Garrett, Rickey who are brothers and Isaac are always close by to wherever Laurel is. Even though they are all close she isn't sure about truly sharing about her abilities to sense what the animal bones that she makes jewelry with tell her about their deaths. In a small town like Dry Valley where most are born and raised, being different is something to be talked about and not in a good way. Laurel knows this because the town thought of her mother as being cursed and not even dying stopped them from accusing her of the towns bad luck. Laurel has lived with the town calling her the Devils Daughter because of her mother and some of the strange happenings that follow her around. The only other person in town that knows what that's like is Christine who wasn't born in Dry Valley and that alone paints a target on anyone's back, but Christine is different anyways. She is what most would call Psychic although its not a term she really cares for. Her gift is something she tries to ignore if possible but sometimes the Ghosts refuse to be ignored.
Isaac is ready to leave behind Dry Valley the town being to small and not current enough for a man like him. He spent his summers with Garrett the boy that slowly stole his heart but Isaac refuses to let it bloom. He wants out of the town where everyone talks about him and pities him. He wants away from his father from the nightmare that is his home life.
Ricky has been chasing after Laurel for as long as he can remember. In a place like Dry Valley you know pretty early what your life is going to look like who you will end up settling down with. But Laurel has always put up defenses against him, she has plans to get out of this town. Ricky hopes that she will, that she will get out and never come back to this town that is to old fashioned for Laurel and Isaac.
Something is coming for Laurel, something that began with her mother. Its stalking the woods and watching her like a predator. Leaving behind love notes made of rotting meat and reassembled bones, carcasses filled with flowers and blood soaking the ground. She and her friends are in trouble whatever is out there is desperate to have Laurel to live inside her bones. Laurel has always considered herself to have some type of magic because she can see the deaths of the bones she collects but is there some way she can use magic to rid her farm of whatever this creature of the woods is?

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Okay, I think I need to stop trying with urban fantasy books for a while. There not my cup of tea, and I need to stop lying that they'll ever be my cup of tea. I don't know what it is with why I don't enjoy urban fantasy. I find the description fascinating and am super excited to read it but then it just doesn't live up to what I pictured in my head.

With Wake the Bones, we're introduced to Laurel Early, a young woman back from her first year of college, which she has subsequently withdrawn from because she was failing. All she wanted was to resume her old life as a tobacco hand and taxidermist and try not to think about the boy she can't help but love. That's not in the cards because her sleepy little family farm that she's grown up on has awakened *queue spooky music.* Instead, the devil has come to town to court Laurel, like he did her late mother years earlier. Now, Laurel has to unravel her mother's terrifying legacy and tap into her own innate magic before her future and the fate of everyone she loves is in danger.

To start off with, I thought Laurel was annoying, whiny, and selfish. She has this idea where the three boys in her life are what supposed to drop everything they do and cater to her every need. She treats them and her uncle like she's better then them but also doesn't at the same time. Laurel can be extremely mean but nobody calls her on it either. I just couldn't really care what happened to her. The boys in her life are Isaac, Garrett, and Ricky.

Isaac is the boy who wants nothing more than to escape the small town they've all grown up in. He's escaping from an abusive father and the fact that he can't be himself (out) while still living in this town. Garrett is in love with Isaac, but he wants to stay in town. Grow old in the place his parents lived, but he knows that this isn't what Isaac wants, so they are two boys forever circling each other. Laurel completely does not understand why Isaac wants to leave and even gets angry at him for wanting to leave, again selfish.

Ricky is the boy that Laurel doesn't want to love but does. She doesn't want to love him because once she does she knows her life is "over." They'll get married, have kids, and work the farms until they grow old and die. I'm super confused why this upsets her because she's been off to college and it didn't suit her, so she came back home. But if she wants adventure or something more, she could've stayed in Cincinnati and gotten a job. Laurel confused me the whole book.

The whole "mystery" of the book was pretty meh. I didn't feel like there was a terrifying legacy of Laurel's mom to uncover. Like the devil came for her mom and she fought him off and had the ground protect Laurel, but other than that there's nothing really that unique about Anna. The ending was a bit anti-climatic and overall I was just ready to be done with the book.

Wake the Bones is one of those books where while you're reading it, you want to keep reading, but as soon as you put it down, it's out of sight out of mind kind of deal. There were some interesting aspects, especially the story line between Garrett and Isaac (when Laurel wasn't there) and Uncle Jay was a great character who I wanted to see more. But overall, it just wasn't anything that special.

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hank you to Netgalley for this ARC.
This book is a horror/mystery/ thriller magic type, and it was mostly really well done. Most of the characters were well developed and three dimensional, and I liked seeing the different parts of the book from their POVs. It was at times a little bit confusing whos POV a chapter was from, but not super hard to figure out overall. I think the romantic relationships between the characters were sort of the same thing with different circumstances put over them, but I liked reading about them. The whole magic thing was a really cool idea, but it was so vague and I wish it had been explained more. And especially when Christine did magic, it was just confusing. Christine didn’t really have any purpose other than to help Laurel and her group though, so she was kind of just a plot device to get things moving. I wish a lot of things were explained more. Especially the ending. The pacing of this book was pretty slow, and at times I just wanted to put the plot on 2x speed. But, overall I really enjoyed reading this book, and I think it’s a really good debut novel.

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Wednesday Books.

The writing in this book was absolutely captivating, so much that it almost makes up for the parts of the book that were kind of a slog for me and I honestly found the other characters way more interesting than Laurel.
But the atmosphere! Reading this book made me feel that Southern humidity!

So while this book may not have been my bag I am super eager to read more from Elizabeth Kilcoyne!

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This is a very solid book, and it definitely serves as an intriguing debut novel. This is a horror type novel, although I’m not even sure what genre it would really fit into. It definitely doesn’t confine itself to just the horror or mystery genres, which makes it an interesting read. Set in the summer, I feel like this book is very atmospheric and definitely slow, but for the most part, it works really well.

The characters are all well developed, and although they had the stereotypical wants and needs for YA characters, I enjoyed them. Our main character, Laurel, is definitely strange, and I see her as a conflicting MC to read about. Although I definitely didn’t enjoy all the things she did, I, for the most part, liked them. Ricky was okay. I initially really liked him, but by the end, he just really annoyed me with his dumb decisions. Garrett was definitely my favourite side character. He seemed to be the most logical of them all and was quite sweet. I didn’t really care all that much for Isaac. I think the character of Christine was very underused. I was surprised when we had our first chapter from her POV, as it’s mostly Laurel’s with Garrett and Isaac’s thrown in too. Christine was really interesting, but she seemed to be just a plot convenience character and only existed to help Laurel and co.

The romance and relationships were both a tad similar to me, and I think, although they were decently well developed, they were a bit unnecessary in the grand scheme of things and took away from the overall plot.

The plot itself was okay. I think it started off strong, but as the "magic" used in this book is described very loosely, any such scenes with it can be hard to understand. I wish it had been more clear. The climax felt too short for how intimidating the threat was made out to be. I thought the ending was very convenient, and it wrapped up a lot too nicely for me.

The pacing is slow, and near the 70% mark, became a bit slow, but for the most part, it’s okay. The writing is very atmospheric and there are weird comparisons and descriptions here and there, but for the most part, it’s an enjoyable read.

I think it was missing a more concrete plot (I felt so many things were left vague) and the characters needed a bit more depth, but it was overall a very enjoyable read. I’m interested in what the author will write next!

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This is a dark and luscious story about a small Kentucky town filled with old magic and something dark and sinister lurking in the woods.

Wake the Bones follows Laurel and her friends, who harvest tobacco by day and dream of living different lives by night. One day after leaving the fields, Laurel, Isaac, Ricky, and Garrett discover that something or someone has left a disturbing message made with blood and bones on Laurel’s farm for her to find. Unsure if this is a warning or a curse, this leads the main characters on a journey to discover who could be responsible for such gruesome acts. Throughout the book, we’re taken deep into the woods where monsters dwell and magic is buried deep beneath the soil waiting for Laurel to discover.

I really enjoyed this book. This was a dark and morbid book centering around death and decay but I couldn’t put it down. I read this book in one sitting and plan on re-reading in it the fall.

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As a young girl who grew up in North Carolina, next to a tobacco field, this book description immediately gripped me. I was looking forward to a beautifully descriptive, Southern Gothic horror but was left woefully disappointed.

Laurel Early has tried to escape the suffocating confines of Dry Valley. She's failed out of college and is back to her uncle's tobacco farm, drinking with her best friends, and avoiding the rampant gossip about the way her mother, the local town target, killed herself. The best thing in her life is Isaac, her best friend, and her love of taxidermy, a hobby made even more interesting by the way the bones speak to her. But with Isaac planning on getting out of their homophobic town and her own taxidermy bones ending up in grotesque amalgamations in the woods, Laurel knows, in her bones, Dry Valley is changing and not for the better.

This was definitely one of those stories that focuses on the gorgeous prose-type writing (which truthfully, it excelled at), creepy and dark atmosphere instead of character development and execution of the plot line. I struggled to finish it as it just didn't keep my attention.

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3.5 Stars rounded up to 4 stars
Laurel Early dropped out of college and goes back to her life as a tobacco farm hand and her hobby of taxidermy. Now the woods aren’t the same and her pile of bones just walked away. It’s up to Laurel to unravel where mother’s legacy to save those she loves.
This book had an interesting and unique plot filled with magic and a dark eerie feeling. This book falls under young adult horror but I would say it has more of a general horror or maybe a new adult horror vibe. The book was written with such detail that you could easily picture everything. The characters were relatable, and I liked that there was LGBTQ representation. My one issue with this book was that it didn’t scare me. This book had potential for great scares, but didn't take them.

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I want to write something to describe this book that is as lyrical as the prose itself, but I will not in any fashion manage. Kilcoyne makes descriptions of the utterly familiar Appalachian setting sing whether she's talking about the menacing shadows of the woods, the warm summer mud of the river, or the greasy pizza at the only restaurant in town (which is really more of a convenience store). If you've grown up in these scenes, life breathes from the pages. The rot of death does too. How many times have I walked outside to scent death on the wind? If you've never scooped dismembered deer parts out of your high school parking lot, you may have trouble connecting with this world, but the world will connect with you. It will slip up your back like Virginia creeper and hold you close like blackberry vines, with all the attendant prickles.

I loved the bitter, seesaw swing of the dialogue in this book. It reminded me so thoroughly of home before I moved to the city, where those accents and phrases flatten and even out. I loved the backbreaking work in the fields, the mud on Laurel Early's boots. And I recognized too well the bruise around Isaac Graves' eye, the need to get away even when you love a place down to your bones, when your blood flows there. The titular bones, the devil? Almost an afterthought amidst the lush prose and the memories it evokes. Nevertheless, you ignore that shadow at your peril, as Laurel soon discovers. The Early farm has ghosts. Every family does, and sometimes your flesh and blood can't protect you, no matter how hard it strains. Especially when what it hopes to protect you from is itself, its own legacy.

Read this book if you've ever wanted to know the taste of an Appalachian summer, timeless and sunburnt and a little hopeless, too. Read this if you loved SUMMER SONS, and also wanted more of the backroads, the woods, the blood in the soil. Read this if you've always suspected that magic will turn in your hands like a knife and cut to the quick.

It can. It will. There's nothing tame here. The bones may long to rise, but the soil is hungry. This dark, gaping maw of earth that we all return to is a siren's song. Enjoy.

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This was a peculiar book, that unfortunately didn't quite work for me. However, there was still a lot to appreciate. "Wake the Bones" is an upper YA contemporary/horror/fantasy that felt completely unique to anything I'd read before. The protagonist is a college dropout who returns to her farm and friends to work the tobacco fields and serve as a taxidermist. That was one of my favorite parts - the heroes were so unlike the ones that typically show up in YA novels, as was the setting. This tapped into an area that feels rarely-explored, and I enjoyed it for that factor.

However, the writing itself was a turn off for me. I am a fan of flavorful writing, but this was packed with metaphor and imagery to such an extent that I sometimes had to read paragraphs twice to remember what they were trying to say in the first place. It took me out of the book, and I never had the feeling of being drawn into or being part of the story. It was also fairly slow, and I sometimes thought it would be stronger if it fully committed to one of the genres it was teasing, rather than taking inspiration from several.

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I grew up Appalachia-adjacent and this book rang so true to my experiences. The rich descriptions of rural life are reminiscent of the Foxfire books about the life and lore of the region. WAKE THE BONES shows a deep understanding of the roots and embodiment of its land.

I read this late at night and it was delightfully creepy in all the right ways. I found the romances believable and tender. The resolution was surprising, and leaves room for a sequel.

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Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press, Wednesday's Books for an ARC of this novel.

Wake the Bones by Elizabeth Kilcoyne is a super creepy tale of a young adult, Laurel Early, who comes back to her hometown after failing out of college. Wanting to live a quiet life of farming and taxidermy, she soon finds out that there are other plans in store for her. Affected by the early death/suicide of her mother, she is an outcast in her town but is strong enough to be her own person and has a strong group of friends who will stand by her. A sinister force soon rises up to test them all.

This is not what I usually read, I'm not into scary stories. There is a lot of blood, gore and magic. Even though this genre is not my fave, I thought it was well written and would be very enjoyable to people looking for a haunting, Southern Gothic novel about young adulthood and facing the past.

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With prose so caramel-thick you could eat it with a spoon, a distinct voice, and twists that will keep you reading all night, WAKE THE BONES terrifies because of how true it is, from its study of grief and love to the way the characters all, in one way or another, want to become something larger/different than themselves.

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This one took a while for me to finish; the writing was good but there's def parts that slogged and I didn't feel like skimming. Part horror, part fantasy the book has a lot going for it once you put in the time and effort to get into it. 3 stars.

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Thank you Netgalley for an ARC of Wake the Bones in exchange for an honest review.

When I first read the synopsis for this book, I knew I had to have it and it did not disappoint. There is always something special reading stories that take place in your home state and Kentucky has never been darker or more magical than it is in Wake the Bones.

The writing is phenomenal and the horror burrows under your skin only to remind you of what you've read when you're alone in the dark. An absolute must read for fans of southern gothic horror.

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I want to thank Netgalley adn the publisher for providing me the arc!

This story follows Laurel Early who decides to drop out of college and move back home. And home as it turns out is haunted. And Laurel and her three friends must figure out what the hell is happening.

Now I will say this is set in a small southern town. So the kids all grew up tending the Tabasco fields and Laurel Early enjoys being a taxidermist in her free time. But because of this setting, I say it’s a little hard to classify the book- I think this book is more YA Horror than it is fantasy.

There is some magic but it’s just a little. And it’s really loosely explained. I think the only thing I was disappointed in is that we do get a pretty interesting character who sees visions, etc. and I felt like we didn’t get enough of her!!

There is of course lots of teenage angst, lots of “I don’t want to stay in this small town” versus “the world outside the small town is scary you should stay” arguments.

Overall, though - this book is creepy. I was scared. Some of the decisions they make don’t always make sense. And I wish the magic was maybe more fleshed out. It is though refreshingly different! I feel like you don’t see too many books in the YA genre like this (or at least I haven’t come upon them yet). It’s got a toned down Stephen King feel to it.

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*3.5 stars rounded up*

Wake The Bones is about Laurel Early, who recently dropped out of college. She didn't tell anyone until she came back to the farm she grew up on. Soon after returning things start to go wild. With her two friends Garrett and Isaac and the guy she can't help but have a thing for Ricky they discover secrets about Laurels mother and nature itself
Wake The Bones is an objectively good book. It's well written and there isn't anything really wrong
or bad with it. However it dragged for me. I kept going read it, then stopping after 10-20 pages, which cause this book to take about 3 months to finish. I found it interesting but not enough to read it for long periods of time.The horror elements of this book were definitely my favorite. If the character had been more fleshed out I think it would have made the story more intense and interesting because of the connection you felt to the characters. Overall I think this book is good. I think Elizabeth Kilcoyne has a great future in writing and I'm definitely interested in what she'll put out next.

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ooo this one was so so good! spooky, atmospheric- it truly had all the dark academia vibes. it reminds me of a magical 'the secret history' for the YA genre. I can't wait for everyone to read this when it comes out, I think that it's a special book.

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This book was definitely interesting. It is kind of slow at some parts, (it took me foreverrrr to finish it) but I did love the writing. It was very vivid and the atmosphere that was created made everything creepier. However, there were times I got a bit lost with what was happening because some parts were overly descriptive and the magic system also confused me a little. I did like that it was multiple POV’s and my favorite character was probably Christine or Garrett if I had to pick one, but there was something lacking that caused me to not care enough about/connect with the characters. So in short, I liked this book, but didn’t love it. Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for this arc!

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Laurel Early has never had anything close to a normal life. Her mother died in a tragic accident when she was a child, and now, Laurel has just quit college after feeling completely out of place there. Returning home, she decides to focus on her bones preparation business, as the bones she finds in the woods and farming land she lives on with her Uncle are extremely popular on the internet. One day, however, a large group of the bones go missing. While out with her fellow tobacco farmer friends, they come across a great deal of blood and the bones arranged in a strange shape. Laurel knows that something terrifying is coming, and that the land has woken up. The magic of her mother is alive and well within her, and it just might get everyone she loves killed in the process.

Elizabeth Kilcoyne has created a terrifying, fascinating, and gorgeously atmospheric novel with Wake the Bones. Having lived in a small country town the characters feel like real people, albeit with stories stranger than most can imagine. Kilcoyne's characters, even when you don't want to like them, get under your skin and stay there, and the big bad energy in this book haunts the reader, even after you've put the book down and walked away. Be warned that the first part of this book is a great deal of world and character building, but when the book hits, it grabs you and won't let go. 

Wake the Bones is available from St. Martin's Press July 12, 2022. Preorder it now; trust me.

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