Cover Image: Wake the Bones

Wake the Bones

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Member Reviews

a Southern horror where the setting feels like its own character, and the characters themselves burrow into your heart. I think it's considered YA, but it reads adult to me. And I didn't love the ending, but oh, I loved so much about this story. I can't wait to see what more Elizabeth writes in the future!
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This book doesn't seem to know whether it's an adult or YA novel. It is being marketed as YA but the main character has finished college. It doesn't *feel* YA.
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I ended up loving this when I didn’t really expect to at first! I initially felt distracted, even irritated, by the amount of description, but that focus on the setting ended up being vital to the story. I wanted to understand the origin and nature of Laurel’s magic, and I wanted more Christine (still do!) and less description of the woods and the flowers. By the end, of course, I was googling plant names and talking myself out of trying to buy a darkly magical farm. There were some truly gorgeous turns of phrase and images (the devil as a worm eating through the core of the world? Come on. Too good). Isaac and Garrett’s story was beautiful, sad, so well described and so frustrating, as it must have been for them to live it; Isaac’s relationship with his father felt nuanced and realistic, something that would enlighten unaware readers, rather than a more cartoonish kind of dynamic I’ve seen in YA writing before - the descriptions of Isaac’s physical and mental reactions to stressors was so convincing. I also loved the entry point of Laurel working with bones; all the decomp and gore is just perfect for tone setting here. Respect the earth, or it will teach you to do so. Really enjoyed this one! Will be looking for more.
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The synopsis sounded so good and the cover drew me in so fast. I really wanted to like this book, but ultimately it was such a letdown for me. I feel like there was so much potential there but it just…..wasn’t it. It took me forever to get through it, and I was happy when I was close to finishing it just because I was finally close to finishing it. I didn’t connect or like any of the characters, especially Laurel, and the plot left more questions than answers.
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An absolute must read! This book kept me guessing what would happen next ans unable to put the book down till I had consumed it in one sitting! 5/5 stars
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This book is superbly written and decadently dark. The author has a way with words that each scene is set in enough detail to escalate the creep factor of this novel. If you like your books atmospheric, different and unforgettable. Read this one. Think small town gothic, taxidermy, decaying flesh falling off bones, and the feel that you get at the back of your neck when something staring at you from the dark and you pretty much have the skeleton of Wake the Bones.   Thank you Netgalley and St Martins Press for the ARC.
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This was an interesting read -very different and well written, though parts were too drawn out and superfluous.  Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced ARC.  It was a difficult book to walk away from, but in a good way.  I like the mixture of horror, friendship, and romance.  While the major four characters were well drawn out, I was a bit confused by just bits and pieces of back story on Christine and Jay.  Christine, especially, deserved more back story.  The background of the book set in the backwoods of Kentucky was well presented and you could almost smell the scents described on the farm.  This is not a tale for the weak as several sensitive topics are discussed ranging from abuse to gay relationships.  For a debut novel, I thought it was well done.
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I loved this! Wake the Bones is beyond creepy. A perfect southern gothic horror if Ive ever read one. 
Taking place on a Tabacco Farm in Kentucky which sports its own family graveyard (up the spook factor right there) Laurell has lived there her whole life, walked the land until she knows every inch as well as she knows herself. She walks the trails finding animal bones that she make jewelry and other things out of to sell.

When some really weird stuff begin happening, like a mysterious pool of fresh blood leading to a long dead deer, or a monster made of all different animal bones clacking together, and of course Laurell has begun dreaming of her dead mother.. Turns out that something is living on her land, something that has been around for a very long time but only recently woken back up. Its up to Laurell and her friends Issac, Garrett and Ricky to stop this devil from first taking everything she loves, then coming back for her, for her bones. 

Every moment of this story, even the slower ones, were building this amazingly well put together world full of horror and the fantastical. Full of magic and curses, and the normal people that don't believe in such things. Friendships that will stand the test of time... as long as everyone survives whats coming, and what you will do for your family even if that means letting them go. This story pulled me in and wouldn't let me go until I reached the very last page and kept me guessing on how all the characters I had fallen in love with were going come out in the end. I will definitely going to be getting myself a physical copy of this book, and I can't wait to see what else this author is going to come out with!
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This book has been labeled as YA and it definitely feels more adult. I would call it a southern gothic horror. For my personal preference, I couldn’t handle the graphic descriptions of animal abuse/death. However, there are trigger warnings to that which I appreciated. The imagery in this very much made me feel hot, sticky, and uncomfortable. It was like I was back in Kentucky again during the unbearably humid summers. In this situation it was more of it’s me not the book. I love gothic novels but this just had too many horror aspects for my taste.
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Ok, so looks like I gotta add Elizabeth Kilcoyne to my "Automatic Buy" list because HOLY can this author write. 

WAKE THE BONES is a dream and a nightmare, and I felt every second of it. Dry Valley is painted so, SO evocatively, from its wildlife to its people, a whirlwind of sighs and smells and colors, beautiful and ugly, and I saw it whenever I closed my eyes. Kilcoyne effortlessly captures the Southern Gothic paradox of a world that feels too gigantic to comprehend ... whilst simultaneously being claustrophobically small. 

And that's what WAKE THE BONES is: a claustrophobic, gigantic punch of a novel. 

Admittedly, the plot itself felt a little thin in places. It follows Laurel, a 19yo college dropout, as she returns to her Kentucky farm and discovers a devil haunting her footsteps. And not just any devil: the very same creature responsible for her mother's untimely death. The details of the magic involved were a little nebulous, a little hard to catch ahold of ... but I found I didn't care. Some books are "plot" books. Some books are "feeling" books. And for me, this one fell hard in the latter category. 

There's so much to love here. I was STOKED to see a group of YA protagonists in the 19-23 range, because WAKE THE BONES provided a perfect backdrop for exploring how impossible that age can feel; when high school is over and the future is huge-yet-dimming. The romance subplots also felt wonderfully real, and I adored all of the main characters: Laurel, Isaac, Garrett, Ricky, and Christine. Even Uncle Jay gets a hug from me! But of course, this is a horror tale: which means plenty of gore and bone and monsters that literally want to devour you & everything you hold dear. It is not for the squeamish: be warned. 

So if you're in the mood for a heady, lyrical, rot-soaked summer read, WAKE THE BONES might be the book for you. It's slow-paced and occasionally underdeveloped, but the writing and the *mood* were, imho, more than enough to compensate. 4.5 rounded up.
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Wake the Bones is a unique mix of fantasy and horror. The story is super atmospheric, and the author’s use of imagery and sensory language is so well done. It pulls you into the story and creates vivid and immersive pictures. You can almost feel the air on your skin and the weight of the heat of a Kentucky summer. The setting, a desolate farmland that was once prosperous but is no longer, is a great backdrop to this creepy, suspenseful horror story, and the author’s lyrical style enhances the eerie vibes throughout the book.

There are some strong themes related to friendship, self-acceptance, and finding your place in the world. The characters are complex and dynamic, and they face realistic issues in the midst of a fantastical story of monsters, magic, hauntings, and more. I like that the author explores situations that young adults face, like dropping out of college, living up to parental expectations, finding oneself, friendship, and more.

I also like that the story is told from multiple points of view. Each character has a strong and distinct voice, and you really get to understand the thoughts, feelings, and goals of each. In addition to dealing with the evil that has resurfaced, these characters deal with issues of loving in a small community where everyone knows everyone else, which some love and some loathe. I found it interesting that there were so many relatable issues, including two romances, in the midst of this terrible and scary haunting.

Laurel is a young woman who has dropped out of college and returned home to work on her grandfather’s tobacco farm and resume her taxidermy hobby when she learns she is the key to defeating the evil that her mother kept at bay for years. Her character is interesting, though I enjoyed Christine’s chapters more. Garrett, Ricky, and Isaac are also unique characters and good friends with Laurel. Though they are friends, they all have secrets, and it’s interesting to see these secrets explored, revealed, and faced.

This story is a bit out of my comfort zone, and some parts were a little too much for me. Be sure to check the content warnings before reading the book, as there are many aspects that could be triggers for readers, including blood, gore, death, mentions of suicide, and so much more.

Though I loved the themes, setting, and atmospheric writing, I didn’t connect with the characters or story as much as I’d hoped. They didn’t feel as layered and fleshed out as some of the other aspects of the story, though I did like the LGBT representation. I also found the pacing a bit disjointed. It was so slow at the beginning and didn’t really pick up for me until more than halfway through the book. The magic system was fascinating, but I sometimes felt confused by it. That being said, I do think this book will appeal to readers who enjoy Southern Gothic literature that’s super creepy and atmospheric. Thanks so much to NetGalley, Wednesday Books, and the author for providing a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
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4.5 stars!!! This literally captivated me from the first couple of pages!! Weird and creepy fantasy horror set in Appalachia???? What a perfect combo. Think House of Hollow meets Small Favors meets Summer Sons. 

The descriptions were top notch, you could feel the humidity and hear the insects and smell the rot underfoot as clear as if you were really there. This is very much a summer book and it captures the feel perfectly. 

I can’t lie — the fact that this is set in Kentucky relatively close to where I live was a major factor in my love for this. A lot of the time when people write southern or country accents it is waaaay overdone but the dialect in here was subtle yet conveys itself perfectly. Lots of “I reckon” and “I’m liable” that hit the nail on the head without being too heavy handed and making the characters sound unintelligent- which is frequently how it goes. 

The fantasy and horror aspects worked really well for me, centering around nature magic. I will say the final fight/encounter/climax was a little unclear in terms of all of the pieces going on, and I don’t believe that was the intent. It felt like game pieces were moving without us seeing and we were left to try and figure out where we were and what had happened to get us to that point. But, as a debut, this was so strong and I think this writer is only going to get better and better. The relationships were well done and I had no complaints on that front! 

ARC copy provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
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I loved the background of this story and especially that it took place in Kentucky. The storyline was a bit scattered and I didn't understand a lot of what was going on. It had potential, but just wasn't a great read for me. Left too much unexplained or scattered.
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While this book has a very interesting premise the execution is disappointing. I was left far too confused throughout the story and even the ending. But I also don't consume horror books that much, so it may just be a personal issue instead of a contextual issue.
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This frickin book wow so let me just say check the trigger warnings. I will admit even with the warnings I still had a few parts in the book where I was like hmmm. I enjoyed the story and the main character this book follows Laurel on her family farm and takes you down a twisted path of home sometimes being something more sinister. I did preorder this book I loved the ending and the cover is gorgeous
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I really enjoyed the atmosphere of this book. If I had to pick one thing that was my favorite aspect of this writing, it was that. In the creepiest of moments, the descriptions were amazing. Even in some not-so-creepy moments, the way Kilcoyne describes the earth and shadows and bones and all of these things made a perfect atmosphere. I also loved the general setting. I think the South was a perfect place for this book, and the theme of farming and therefor the theme of soil, ground, and earth, added a new level to everything. There was a lot to think about!

I enjoyed Laurel, and I enjoyed Christine. In fact I'd love reading a whole book about Christine. But otherwise it was kind of hard for me to care about characters beyond a surface level. They were all fleshed out, but for some reason did not click with me. The pacing was the hardest part of this book for me, especially in the first 50%, which contributed to finding it hard to connect with some characters. While I enjoy having character dynamics and journeys intertwined with an overlying plot, many scenes of character arcs felt almost like an interruption to the plot. A scene that stands out to me is the scene where Laurel and Isaac head to a bar and run into Garrett. Isaac and Garrett's dynamic and struggles were very interesting, but this scene felt to me like it was from another book entirely. There were also moments later on that felt like going from very slow to sudden intense action, that left me rereading some parts to comprehend. 

Other than the pacing and some tonality not quite working for me, I enjoyed this read! The creepy moments were perfectly unsettling. I had a fun time learning about what is going on to Laurel and this town, and found there to be a good amount of symbolism to unpack which I always love. And I will definitely keep an eye on this author's future projects, because this was really promising to me!
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Beautiful writing and creepy atmosphere—and everything I love in a southern gothic. Can’t wait to see what Kilcoyne writes next.
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The perfect blend of southern gothic mixed with fantasy and horror. So haunting and eerie, it left me guessing for a while. I've never read a book quite like this and found it super unique and compelling!
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A longer review to come soon! I really didn’t like this book and wasn’t able to finish it.. Thanks for the chance to try it.
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This wasn’t what I was expecting based on the YA tag, but it was definitely a pleasant surprise to get something less soft than YA tends to be. Wake the Bones skirts several genres; I liked it best when it was inching into horror territory, which fit so well with the rural Kentucky atmosphere. The sense of place was excellent, and made up for some of the book’s shortcomings in characterization and magical continuity. The most impressive accomplishment was the juxtaposition of the evocative mundanity and groundedness of the setting/characters with the sudden incursion of deadly and visceral supernatural problems. It’s an effect I don’t often find in fantasy, especially YA fantasy, where magic tends to feel more like it gently suffuses the world and is meant to be there. In Wake the Bones<, it feels more like an intrusion. This sense of sudden wrongness, coupled with the visceral violence of some of the supernatural episodes, was well-executed and left me wondering what a full-on adult supernatural horror novel by Kilcoyne might be like.

Wake the Bones is due to be released in the US on July 12, 2022.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the NetGalley ARC.
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