Cover Image: Wake the Bones

Wake the Bones

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Member Reviews

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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3.9

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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An atmospheric and creepy contemporary Southern Gothic full of horror and gorgeous prose. I loved this book for a lot of different reasons. First, the way that magic works in this world is compelling and it works incredibly well with the setting & the characters. Then there are the characters themselves, and the relationships between them, that are complex and shaped by the good bits and the flaws of each person in the story. In short, the characters and their motivations and their decisions are completely believable even in a world of magic and monsters. Finally, Kilcoyne has a way of writing that sucks you right into the world of Dry Valley and you can feel its smallness, leaving you invested in Laurel, the protagonist and what happens to her.
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3.5 stars
This book was such a ride. Everything unfolds in such an interesting way. If possible, I'd recommend reading it in one or two sittings. I really loved the fantasy and horror elements, although I didn't fall in love with the romance. The enjoyed the friend group and MLM romance, but I never really loved Ricky and Laurel's romance. The stand out feature of this book though is the author's writing style. It's so incredibly atmospheric, even though the setting isn't one I normally love, I always felt completely immersed. My main complaint for this book was just that the start was a little slow. Overall though, I'd recommend this for anyone who enjoys or is trying to branch out into horror fantasy. 
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press, Wednesday Books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Wake the Bones is a dark, unsettling tale about the decay of the American heartland and deteriorating relationships as much as the reanimated skeletons that haunt its pages. I enjoyed it immensely, though it is not without flaws. 

Our setting, Dry Valley, lives up to its name, a husk of a once-prosperous town now hollowed out by hard living, drained by a combination shortage of jobs and hope. Protagonist Laurel ekes out a living by helping her uncle farm tobacco, supplementing her income with a side hustle of taxidermy projects she sells online. Yes, there are indeed a lot of the titular bones in this novel. The town is slowly emptying and rotting away, and so are the relationships of the people remaining; the age-old yearning of young people like Isaac to flee for more fulfilling city living, or, as in Laurel’s case, the staunch disbelief of an uncle in the elemental magic that is threaded through their property, leading to friction between father figure and proxy daughter.

I must start with the things I loved, as they far outweigh any issues I had. The writing in this book is gorgeous, vivid and absolute excels at description. I could feel the heat of the tobacco fields, touch the ridges of the bones Laurel handles, smell the blood and decaying flesh that begin to permeate the plot, taste the sub-par food offered at the town’s sole surviving restaurant, little more than a gas station hot food counter. 
 
The story felt timeless, the aged vehicles characters drove reminiscent of something set in the fifties, but then a cellphone would buzz with a text, a detail just anachronistic enough to make the atmosphere all the more chilling and disorienting.  There are characters you recognize, and maybe know, farm boys in love with each other but too oppressed by living in a red state, too stamped-down by an abusive parent to admit to themselves what they feel. There is enough folk and green magic in this novel that if you’d told me it was written as a guest episode for my favorite podcast, Old Gods of Appalachia, I’d absolutely believe you. 

The setting, general ambience and mood as you turn the pages, and magic system are excellent. The [minimal] issues I found myself taking away were where these assets fall short. Creepy atmosphere and lush writing are style, but some of the substance, the meat on the bone, was missing for me, and it was a combination of a split POV and poor fleshing-out of characters. (This book was so good it’s got ME using the visceral language now!) First, the all-knowing narration splits its time between Laurel, long sections about Isaac, and Christine, the town witch. I feel that character building suffered by this darting between voices.

If you asked me to name three character traits of a particular love interest of our protagonist, and why it was so important they be saved, I could not. Laurel herself is hard to describe, so from the top down, characters felt half-baked amidst a well-crafted world of magic. The high-stakes plot is just that, until things are tied up neatly, and the tension built for nothing. I’m also very, very sick of the One Magic Girl trope, although Christine’s presence alleviated that a bit. I wanted more of her, though, a fascinating character. 

These stumbles never made me even consider stopping reading, though, and I stayed up far too late to finish devouring the book. Five unique stars to a book that despite its flaws, charmed me in the darkest way possible. 

*Content warnings for a bit of animal death, gore, and language around those things, references to suicide, as well as some on-page domestic abuse and violence.
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I don't think that I really knew what I was getting into when I started this book, and I'm honestly not sure if I fully understand what I read. But it certainly met the southern gothic brief, I'll give it that. I think my issue with it is that I felt disjointed from all of the action. I loved the LGBT rep and the incorporation of magic, but the rest kind of fell short. However it's certainly an odd book and I think that there's definitely a place for it in the horror genre. Just not for me.

*Thank you to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest review*
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Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for letting me read an E-Arc in exchange for a honest review. 
Spoilers in review 
3/5 stars. 
This book started off very slow and didn't ever really pick up. The ideas in the book were great but didn't feel well executed, I felt as through the story just skimmed the surface of its potential. The characters were very stereotypical for a YA novel and felt very flat at times.  I honestly struggled to get through this book. The build up to the main fight between her and the devil was 80%  of the book and then the fight scene was so quick you almost miss it. The magic in this was very bland and she didn't even really use it until the end.  I felt as though key parts were skipped. Such as Isaac being strung up in the tree almost dying, Ricky sacrificing himself. Then other parts didn't feel necessary to the story. The whole gay club scene added nothing to the story line, the time spent talking about the nonrelationship between Isaac and Garrett. I did like Garrett as a character though.   

I think it was a decent book and maybe just wasn't for me. We all have personal preferences and this one just fell short for me.  I do have to say the writing did make me feel imursed in the book so the potential is there.
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“‘It does not struggle. It wins any war against all that walks above. You’d do well to know it before it knows you.’”

Laurel Early hasn’t told her friends that she’s dropped out of college and moved back to her family’s farm, but that’s about to be the least of her problems. Haunted by her mother’s suicide and the town’s whispers that the Early women are witches, she quickly realizes that the haunting on the Early farm is quite literal. Bones are walking around on their own, her mother’s ghost invades her dreams, and that suicide may have been something far more sinister. The devil has come to the Early farm, and Laurel doesn’t know if she has the magic to stop it. I received an invitation to read a free e-ARC through NetGalley from the publishers at St. Martin’s Press/Wednesday Books. Trigger warnings: parent death, suicide, animal death, drowning, abuse/abusive households, car accidents, severe injury, some blood/gore, guns, homophobia, grief.

I’m torn on my feelings about this book. It’s dark, weird, and atmospheric, which are all things that are usually up my alley, but for some reason, I really struggled to connect. However, I wouldn’t take my ambivalence as a reason not to read it, since there’s plenty of good. I loved the magical realism aspects of the book, from Laurel’s curious sensitivity to dead things to the creepy bone monsters shambling out of the woods. (I’ll read any book with bone and stick monsters, guaranteed. Throw them at me.) In that vein, the magic is somewhat vague though. In part, I think that works for the kind of story it is. It doesn’t need a well-defined system, but I would have liked some more limitations, side effects, clarifications, etc. to what Laurel can do.

I really enjoyed the chapters with Christine, and I almost wish we had a book from her perspective, since I found her more interesting than a lot of the main characters. I found it difficult to connect with most of them, but I don’t think it’s a writing problem so much as a me problem. Laurel’s moodiness and uncertainty about who she is make it hard to get a feel for her, but they also ring authentically teenager. Isaac’s backstory and the tension with his father help to flesh out his character, but they also feel somewhat abrupt and don’t really have a place in the main plot. I did love Garrett though, sunshine boy that he is, and I found the relationships complicated and interesting.

The plot gets a little lost in everything else. There are the bones of a good story there (har, see what I did there?), but it doesn’t quite get the attention it needs. There are times the novel is atmospheric, but the lush descriptions are often overwhelming and out of place. Specifically, I sometimes found it difficult to tell what was actually happening or what characters were doing because the action was overshadowed by internal monologues and flowery language. (Is Laurel actually running or just thinking she should run? We don’t know until she trips and falls.) I enjoyed the ending probably more than any other part of the book though, so it was nice to leave things on a high note.

I review regularly at brightbeautifulthings.tumblr.com.
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Thank you, Wednesday Books, for allowing me to read Wake the Bones early!

Elizabeth Kilcoyne's prose captured my attention from the very beginning and it never let go. I devoured the whole book in a matter of hours and I am definitely tempted to re-read it again soon, but I will put that desire aside only because I have a high tower of books looming on my side table. Really a spectacular debut!
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This book was WEIRD.  But in all the best ways.  A beautiful, creative novel.  It just sweeps you up and plants you down in rural Kentucky, which was nice for me as my roots on my mother's side extend into Kentucky for centuries.  I know well the type of rural locale she describes, both the pros and the many cons.

But to the story itself.  There's a horror that lurks from the beginning and then explodes onto the scene, and the author's language is so evocative and beautiful, like poetry.  Her careful choice of words set the scene and you simply cannot stop reading, turning page after page to see how Laurel Early will defeat the evil that has come to claim the land, everything she holds dear, and, finally, her.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I loved the atmosphere in this story - small-town and gothic - not to mention the strange characters who were also fascinating. Everything about the description drew me to this story and when I had the chance for an advanced copy, I was thrilled! I loved the darkness and the supernatural and the setting.
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