Cover Image: Wake the Bones

Wake the Bones

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Member Reviews

What a wicked little read! This was one of the most unique stories I've read in awhile. I really loved the rawness and the eeriness and the wrongness of this book. It certainly made me cringe and was really weird. Overall I really enjoyed the book but the only thing that took away from it for me was the characters. I really didn't love any of them and found myself having a hard time connecting with them.
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Wow! This story may have had themes from several other books, but it was put together in an original way. Very enjoyable storyline and writing style. I would have rather seen the devil be any other mythical creature, but that really didn't hurt my enjoyment of Wake the Bones.

I also enjoyed having two gay men among the main characters. Even in the middle of nowhere, Ohio, there needs to be representation. It flowed really well in Wake the Bones, and it never felt like the characters were made gay simply to check a mark on a list.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an ARC. This review contains my honest, unbiased thoughts.
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I think a lot of the reviews that have been posted before mine have gotten a lot right about this novel. It's marketed at YA, but definitely on the older end of the YA spectrum -- more like New Adult, if we're still using that label? 

I grew up in western Kentucky, on the other end of the state, but it's really just geography that separates pieces of my own story from this one. Go off to college in the "big city," end up on academic probation, and come back home to a home that doesn't really fit anymore but is the only option that's left? Yeah, I know how that feels and I think Kilcoyne did an excellent job of capturing these four characters as they wrestle with choices that will impact the rest of their lives while juggling everything from the past that can't just be set aside.

The writing is lovely, atmospheric, and lush -- but don't struggle too much to read things literally because then you'll start getting hung up in the words. Rather, this is a writing style that you just have to let pile up for an overall impression, rather than reading closely. 

As for the horror, I wasn't SCARED while reading this, but there is definitely a sense of unease and discomfort. I think the weakest part of this novel is how Laurel's magic connects to everything else. It almost feels like everything in this novel is a prelude to what comes next, and we never get to that next part.
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Honestly I liked this one quite a bit but struggled with it’s age group appropriateness, so it was hard for me.  I would push Wake the Bones on the 18-25 age group and keep it off the YA imprint.

With walking bones, rising evil, death, abuse, and a terribly disillusioned drowned ghost among other eldritch things, this is definitely one to have on board for spooky season. It’s much more lyrical than a typical horror novel though and encompasses magical realism and literary fiction too.

Ok here are my quick thoughts on the age thing: it’s marketed as YA (13-18) but I really truly strongly feel it should target an 18-20something age group. The characters are 18+, one was in college and dropped out, and all were struggling with loyalty to home, their  future, and generational bonds vs their own fate. Is their home down on the holler or where does fate lead them? Many of the conflicts and issues were not ones that 13-17 yr olds are going to face, although some will, plus the language includes at least one f*co per chapter, s*x scene at the penultimate moment AGAIN (please, YA authors, stop doing this – we assume a second couple shacked up that night too) … I just have a hard time with this on the YA imprint.

That said: let’s talk about this contemporary fantasy / horror / literary fiction

It takes place mostly on Kentucky farmland, where Laurel’s family tobacco farm has sat for generations.  The atmosphere it set from the start with a hunt for bones and trip to the graveyard, where we learn that Laurel has a penchant for death.  From there, things slowly start getting spookier and spookier.  It never gets to the splattering stage but there are dead animals, blood trails, dreams of the dead, her mother’s drowned ghost, lots of blood, someone is hanged, and the devil is downright creepy .. among other things.

The spooky parts are interspersed with a number of important themes to the New Adult (18- ?) age group, like generational chains.  Laurel’s family has been rooted on Kentucky for generations, and she tried leaving, failed, and came home to the farm and friends that needs her.  Another character is abused by his father, and wants to leave, but also struggles with loyalty to his friends and the area.  One doesn’t want to leave at all and is happy as is, and, the fourth has no idea what he wants.

So we see these scary parts mixed with chapters about love and mixed feelings.  Two male characters (Isaac and Garrett) have feelings for each other and that is a constant storyline, plus Laurel and Ricky feel fated towards each other but recognize fear and obligation as obstacles.

All this taking place in a muggy, hot summer, in the middle of a pretty severe haunting.  Each character, even a fifth that is brought in as a guide to Laurel, has different parental and generational issues that has shaped their experience growing up in this small town.

Can they all be friends like they were before, what needs to change, what will their futures hold? Will they even be alive to find out?

Coming home and self acceptance are huge themes.  I loved how the magic worked, as Laurel’s mother was tied to the land and so is she.  Land based magic is my favorite but I’ve never seen it in a contemporary fantasy before so that was interesting

I wish I could share quotes … I normally am not a fan of purple prose but Kilcoyne manages to write about death, life, and survival in such a way that I had SO many quote tabs on the pages.

OH, yeah, survival is a HUGE theme too.  Everyone has to survive their upbringing, life situation, and all the self destruction of those around them while taking hold of their own futures.

The real question is … Does everyone survive? Heh heh I actually did like what the author did at the end, but no spoilers

For me, 🌟🌟🌟🌟, but I’m 33 and would hold this one til my kid was at least 17.  I will not rate it for YA
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Wake the Bones is a perfect blend of the romantic and the haunted, it perfectly pairs chilling atmosphere with idyllic prose. This is one I couldn't put down!!
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This book had me on the edge of my seat!! I loved the characters, the plot, and the twists and turns the story had to offer us. Totally Buying this book!
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Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

This book will have you at the edge of your seat wanting to read more. The atmosphere and lush prose of writing will have you wanting this book to never end. I devoured this book in one sitting, a must read for those who love gothic horror.
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3 for neutral.  Couldn’t get into this one enough to finish, but will definitely update if able to st a later date.  I’m a very moody reader, so could definitely be that!
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I loved this. The Kentucky-ness of this book made me so happy having grown up in Kentucky. The setting was beautiful, the town reminded me of where I grew up and the characters reminded me of people I went to school with. The scares were effective and I thought the ending was the perfect amount of speculative.
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Wake the Bones is a YA horror/fantasy and is a very strange and fascinating story. It follows a group of friends in a small town tobacco farm. It has ghosts, witches, the devil, strange magic with bones and plants, a mother that died mysteriously, complex friendships and a bit of romance. It's very spooky and atmospheric.
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**Full review to be posted to NetGalley, my blog, Amazon, and Goodreads near publication!**

Wake the Bones is an incredible new  addition to the YA category with a compelling premise and a subtle horror atmosphere that kept me hooked. The characters didn't stand out all that much to me, but I think they worked well in the story and complemented the writing and development of the storyline excellently. This is one of those books that's just a bit too weird to make it easy to write a short synopsis about, but suffice to say that its weirdness certainly kept me entertained and intrigued throughout! Definitely one to keep an eye out for this summer.
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My goodness. This book is lush in every sense. 

In WAKE THE BONES we're following Laurel Early and her group of friends working on the Early tobacco farm in the peak of summer. Laurel's mother, a rumored witch, had passed when Laurel was just a baby, and it turns out she was holding back a devil intent on hurting her family. When Laurel and her friends unwittingly unleash what had been held at bay, they're tasked with defeating a monster.

Truly one of the most beautiful books I've ever read, this is a story that envelopes you. This is a creepy, suffocating southern gothic steeped in fantasy and lore. Part coming of age, part fantasy horror,  I was left totally spooked (like afraid to go to the bathroom at night after reading spooked) and breathless all at once. 

The prose. THE PROSE. You could feel the air, you smell the woods, you could cut the tension. There was not one word wasted. 

I loved this. If you're a fan of horror, monsters, unsettling environments, magic gone wrong, and friend groups against the evil, this is for you.

Thank you to the author, Netgalley, and St Martin's Press for an advanced ereader copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This was a lush, folk horror novel with some truly raw lines.

If you enjoy eco/bio horror and folk horror, you may really enjoy the experience of this book. It's written atmospherically and carefully, you can feel it like summer air on your skin. The descriptions in this book paint vivid portraits you may or may not want to see, and it makes the unflinching actions taken that much more visceral.

The characters are perhaps not the most fleshed out or dynamic, but they play their parts well and they're easy to root for. They each still feel like they're projecting a true piece of humanity, and watching them interact with each other brings in another layer that makes the unknown and the earthy find some solid ground and some substance easier to dig your hands into.

The ending was also an interesting direction, and I was excited by the choices made to get there and the commitment to where it means things ended. It definitely recolored certain ideas of my own I'd had throughout.

However, though I did like a lot about this book as separate pieces, it didn't really come together for me. I wanted this book to feel more substantial, but past reading nothing really lingered. I think it's because of a lack of connection for me, but also, maybe more, the fact that this book didn't seem to really mean anything. I like my horror with layers and metaphors, and this felt much more of a surface level story. Those not looking for the deeper aspects will probably not have any such issues.

This was a lush reading experience, and I'm excited to see what else Kilcoyne comes up with.
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Hmm. This sort of book is out of my comfort zone. I thought the story was unique and interesting. 

Laurel Early lives on a farm and its awake. Her bone pile decided to just up and walk away. She just wanted a quiet normal life. However now she is tasked with tapping into her magic, figuring out what her late mother’s legacy is and save the people she loves from unimaginable harm. Sounds simple right?

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this arc.
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This novel is atmospheric with a lot of beautifully written, vivid descriptions. But, because of the numerous and sometimes lengthy descriptions of places and things, the pacing is rather slow. This story is definitely unique and a bit strange. Sometimes I did have a little trouble understanding what exactly was going on. I thought the climax was a bit anticlimactic, but the ending was intriguing and interesting and one of the most beautifully weird endings I have ever read. I kind of loved that ending. 

This was a very well done and interesting debut novel and I look forward to reading more books from this author.

Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books for this digital arc in exchange for my honest review which is not affiliated with any brand.

#NetGalley #WaketheBones
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Wake the Bones is a southern gothic YA, with elements of horror, friendship and a devil.  A devil has attached itself to the area Laurel has lived.  Her mother may have committed suicide, but maybe it was  the evilness attached to her homestead.   The characters in this story have so many skeletons in the closet, and the devil wants to lure them out.
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The cover is what drew me to this book. This book is a slow and creepy horror. It's well-written, but I felt that was a bit sluggish throughout the story.
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Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Wake the Bones by Elizabeth Kilcoyne is an exciting blend of YA fantasy and horror that will appeal to fans of The Dead and the Dark or I am Margaret Moore.  The story revolves around Laurel, a 19 year-old college dropout who has returned home to the farm where she grew up.  She wants to return to work as a tobacco hand and is involved in taxidermy.  One day, she encounters a carcass in the woods.  What monster killed it?  And is she next?

Here is an atmospheric excerpt from Chapter 1:

"The devil’s daughter.
It was a fitting nickname. Laurel, like her mother, had strange gifts, though none so useful as a green thumb: sometimes, a bone would offer her the story of its death. A flash of teeth; a bullet rending flesh; a long, slow starvation or wasting illness. She could feel it through the dried marrow, singing out. It was a useless ability, a parlor trick, nothing so practical as buying a wart like witches from the hills could do... She could not see the future, she could only feel the bite of the past.
Laurel reached into her bag, sifting through her finds until her fingers settled on the jawbone. It was an ugly thing, but she could see potential in any carcass. She brought the jawbone up to her face, cracking her eyes open to study its shape, looking for something to salvage. It was tense and buzzing in the palm of her hand, heavy with potential, waiting for some kind of midsummer magic to bring it back to life."

Overall, Wake the Bones is a supernatural YA horror novel about monsters, blood, dirt, summer, farms, and the South.  One highlight of this book is the amazing atmosphere that the author creates. I felt like I was being transported to another time and place.  Another highlight of this book is the horror aspect.  There were many creepy elements to this book.  I made the mistake of reading this book too close to bedtime, and I have a feeling I'm going to have nightmares tonight.  If you're intrigued by the excerpt above, or if you're a fan of creepy YA books, I highly recommend that you check out this book when it comes out in July!
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I loved this book! 

It was an atmospheric, suspense novel set in Kentucky. I appreciated all of the conflict and how it kept the pacing moving. This layered with characters that feel like people you could know made you keep reading to find out what happened next. It felt fresh alongside the other ya adult novels I typically read.
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This book was a surprise. I was not expecting a dark, dream-like dance with the devil. It was macabre and unsettling, but also touching. I could relate with the small town attachments and setbacks that made the story so complex. There were moments of terror and heartache. I loved the premise. What kept me from giving more stars was the flow of the plot. I never felt like I needed to keep reading until the end of the book, and that's a shame.
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