Cover Image: Wake the Bones

Wake the Bones

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Member Reviews

Laurel Early is used to the bones of her farm being (somewhat) awake, whispering their stories to her as she remakes what once was into pieces of art, but she is not used to them standing themselves up and walking away. The Devil himself is stirring beneath her soil, putting her family, her friends, and her own life at risk. But how do you defeat the dead? How do you strike at nothing but air and bones?

Elizabeth Kilcoyne’s debut novel is a force to be reckoned with. It is the perfect blend of low fantasy, horror, and contemporary fiction that occupies a genre I haven’t yet seen defined—but I adore. Laurel’s character is fierce and determined and someone you can’t help but root for. Setting the story in rural Kentucky was something I initially thought I wouldn’t like, but Kilcoyne’s immense command of prose creates a setting that is lush and gothic. Her writing perfectly suits the setting, and soon I couldn’t imagine the story taking place anywhere else. 

While I loved Laurel and fell in love with her voice from the first page, it was her best friend, Isaac, who stood out as a character I will never forget. One reason I was hesitant to embrace the rural Kentucky setting was that, in my experience, a lot of books set in the South drag a lot of Southern issues with them—namely homophobia. Authors may use their setting to write stories of queer trauma or to simply not have any queer characters at all, but Isaac’s character represented a whole demographic of young, queer kids who grow up in the South. I felt very connected to Isaac in that, while he may face broader homophobia from the wider community, he has a close group of accepting and supportive friends (and a “will they, won’t they” romantic relationship). Despite knowing that he could have a perfectly average life in their small town, he still wonders what it would be like to move to a more generally accepting area, even if that means away from those who love him. He battles feeling like he can’t be his authentic self when he’s home, but is feeling more free worth leaving behind everything he knows and loves? Seeing that arc on the page really stuck with me as someone who did grow up queer in the South and faced the same conflict. It really is such a specific character journey and being able to read it warmed my heart and reminded why representation matters so much, even now as someone who has fully accepted her identity.

The characters of this book are really its strong suit. Their relationships and personal journeys are what makes you care about this quiet little town, so much so that when the monsters attack I was up all night frantically reading to make sure they all made it out safely. This book truly is a roller coaster as they battle evil itself but also navigate very real problems many readers in their late teens will also have to face. Altogether, the compelling characters and beautiful, suspenseful writing makes this a must read for anyone looking for a darkly twisted, low fantasy!
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Laurel Early is back working and living on her Uncle's tobacco farm, after having failed out of college. She has always been an outsider, the town having seen her mother as a pariah. Even more so after her mother committed suicide when Laurel was just a baby. Laurel is working up to telling her friends Isaac, Ricky, and Garrett that she has dropped out of school, when strange things begin happening on the farm. Laurel's taxidermy hut seems to have been robbed of the viscera she could not use, and a grizzly scene is laid out as a gift for Laurel. The four friends might need a little help from another town pariah, the towns only apparent witch, Christine. Because something evil is springing up from the earth around Laurel's farm, something dark and grotesque, with a grudge against Laurel's family.

This book is dark, richly woven, with the atmosphere of the Appalachian mountains dripping from the pages. The characters crawl out of the book, forcing you to feel their pain, their rage, their hope for survival. The descriptions are so vivid, the book rattles your bones and causes you to shiver. Because something evil permeates from a land that is meant to be safety, and we all know that feeling of being at home and wondering if something is hiding in the dark waiting to strike.

This is really a book about how home is supposed to be your safe space, a place of comfort and refuge. We wrap ourselves in the idea that nothing can touch us there; when really, anyone who really wants to can break in and hurt us. Also, home can sometimes be the source of your suffering (whether physically from someone who is meant to show you unconditional love or emotionally from your own inability to leave or the whispers from the world around you). Laurel had tried to escape, only to find herself right back on her hungry land. Even as the world around us is unsafe and dangerous, we can find allies and bravery in order to fight back.

The book also dealt heavily with family, the bonds that we share with people who are supposed to love us but sometimes only hurt us. In the case of Laurel, her mother was trying to protect and save her, but only in a way she knew how to. Which was a way that took an emotional toll on Laurel, that would seek to destroy her found family. A mother's love is strong, but it can also sometimes smother. In the case of Isaac, his home is a danger to him constantly, and shows that not all parents are good parents. However, Laurel, Isaac, Ricky, and Garrett have become their own family; they help each other to survive their pains, the abuses, their trauma, in order to be able to find happiness.

There were also moments in this book that dealt with bigotry and homophobia. These could also be symbolized as your home being turned against you. Having been raised in a place you love, only for that place to ostracize you because you do not fit into the outdated and harmful ideals of said place, which is heartbreaking. When you give your literal blood, sweat, and tears to a town and land that continues to reject you, it tears at you and means to destroy you.

The relationship between the four friends sometimes became a little too confusing and convoluted, and I really wish there had been more Christine in the story (I found her character so interesting), but I did cherish that ending! I thought it fit the eerie love that Laurel has for her land, for a wild place that holds her heart so completely.
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This wasn't a bad story, but I think I was expecting something different from this story, as the actual horror that I read this for always seemed second place to the story of teens growing up in small town America.

Laurel's connection with death, the way she collects and sells bones and her ability to see events from the perspective of the bones owner was really unusual, and interesting. It connected well with the Devil made of bones in her town, and the description of the bones crunching together as it walked will stick with you.

I did like Laurel, Isaac, Garrett and Ricky, I understood why they were so close and why they clung to each other, misfits almost ready to leave a conservative town in favour of an inclusive city, but I don't know if I found them or this story truly memorable, I feel like there was something missing.
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-This is an unique and dark story
-Definitely interesting and very engaging. I started this while diffusing my hair and then sat down and finished most of it in a night.
-This has good imagery of the atmosphere and horror aspects
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I finished Wake the Bones last week and I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for something on the darker side of YA. I gave it 5 Stars!

I definitely got some Stephen King vibes from this book. There is just a melancholy sense of foreboding that oozes from this book.

The book follows Laurel Early as she comes home from college and goes back to live with her uncle on his tobacco farm. She is also a skilled taxidermist and collects bones from around the farm and surrounding woods to make art that she sells online. Laurel also has a gift. When she touches a bone she can usually see the last moments of that creatures

Laurel's magic and presence back on the farm has awoken something evil that wants her for itself. With the help of her dead mother, a local witch, and her best friends, Laurel will do whatever it takes to keep her friends and family safe. Even if it means sacrificing herself.

I really enjoyed this book. It has such an atmospheric setting. It really draws you in and won't let you go. The characters are awesome and so real. You'll find yourself rooting for them to survive.
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A haunting debut that chills readers to the bone. 

When Laurel drops out of college, she returns home to her family’s farm and her taxidermy side hustle and hopes that everything will be as normal as it ever was. However, something is not quite right. Strange occurrences begin to happen around town and in its surrounding woods. Laurel must call upon her magic to save all those she holds dear. Wake the Bones by Elizabeth Kilcoyne is a haunting debut that is sure to chill readers to the bone.

The atmosphere is absolutely haunting. The writing is superb. Kilcoyne masters gorgeous—but  sometimes terrifying—flowery prose that really grips readers in. While this one wasn't a new favorite, I can't wait to read more from Kilcoyne in the future. Her writing, alone, cemented my decision in devouring anything she will ever write.

While this book is quite character driven, Wake the Bones truly comes alive with its creepy vibes. For example, the bones that Laurel had in her workshop seemed to have gotten up and walked off. The magical and paranormal elements of the novel remain a mystery for most of the book. The strange happenings with the bones has readers on their toes until the very end. 

There is definitely a mash up of genres here that truly make the book difficult to categorize it. Wake the Bones is a mix of horror, fantasy, and paranormal with a romance sprinkled in. If you want an unsettling and haunting reading experience, I recommend you avoid reading the synopsis and just diving right in. 

The small, rural town dynamics that readers get to experience felt true to life and added to the haunting landscape of the book. 

Overall, Kilcoyne introduces a character driven debut set in a rural area, complete with southern gothic vibes, a haunted farm, and nosy neighbors. While it wasn’t a favorite, the terrifying atmosphere gripped me the whole way through. I am looking forward to reading more from Kilcoyne in the future! If you adore some haunts with a dusting of magic and romance, you definitely want to read Wake the Bones.
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Elizabeth Kilcoyne’s Wake the Bones is a dark, atmospheric debut about the complicated feelings that arise when the place you call home becomes hostile. Wake the Bones is sprinkled with charming Southern magic and chilling Appalachian folklore set in a place called Dry Valley, Kentucky. Laurel’s late mother Anna, who was a pariah in their rural Kentucky town, used her magic to grow healthy crops. The magic Laurel inherited, she believes, is less practical: when she touches a deceased animal’s body, she sees its death.

Her mother died when she was a baby. Her entire family is buried in the cemetery on the property. Her uncle Jay, who believed that Laurel's mother killed herself, never wanted Laurel to leave. Now that she's dropped out of college in Cincinnati, Laurel is expected to return to making her living off growing tobacco as well as being a taxidermist. Laurel has a special relationship with bones. She can tell which animal the bones came from, and even what killed the animal. Called the "Devil's Daughter" thanks to her mother's oddness, Laurel's only true friends are brothers Garrett and Ricky Mobley, as well as Isaac Graves. 

Things start getting dark really quickly in this story. First there is the blood found behind the wall that looks as though something laid down and died. Then the bones belonging to Laurel's bone collection are found discarded in a pile. The weirdness continues when Lauren and Isaac are confronted by a monster. Increasingly strange and terrifying events prompt Laurel to consult local outcast Christine, who reluctantly helps Laurel harness her magic. Christine is privy to visions, scents and impressions. 

She knows when someone is pregnant, and when broken marriages are in the future. She sees good and bad things in Laurel's future and tries to warn her that it is up to her, to face her mothers Devil before she ends up another victim of the Devil. Laurel finds herself immersed in unraveling the ghastly mystery of her mother's untimely death, untapping the hidden magic within herself in order to protect her loved ones and her own future, as well as an evil that wants Laurel and will go through any lengths, including sacrificing her friends, in order to get what it wants. 

It is fair to say that multiple third party narratives are used in this story so pay attention. Laurel and Ricky’s combative romance and Isaac and Garrett’s tentative courtship are likely to be the focus of a certain sect of readers. Some of the thematic material in Wake the Bones involves mental and physical abuse, violence, and suicide. Additionally, the book includes dental trauma, guns, postpartum depression, drug usage, animal death, and blood. Specific content warning for abuse by an alcoholic parent.
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Atmospheric af, gorgeous writing, character-driven southern gothic, but the actual concrete plot left me a little confused at times (like, more than once I had to flip back a chapter or so to see if they’d mentioned something that would explain what felt like a sudden change in motivation or similar, and…nope, I didn’t miss anything, I’m just a little confused!). But absolutely lush prose, visceral and raw and sensual, with sentences you could drown in. Perfect for fans of Erica Waters, Courtney Gould, and Christine Lynn Herman.
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☠️🦴Book Review 🦴☠️

#NetGalley published 7/12/2022 

☠️☠️☠️☠️🦴/5 (rounding up for ratings)

This book was so well written. Great descriptions. Use of both metaphor and simile and just ordinary use of adjectives. Interesting but not off the wall adjectives used. Not too spooky but one night as I was heading to bed I read one paragraph and decided that maybe I would just switch books after dinner.  Just. In. Case. 😂 I am a little chicken 🐔 sh*t. 😂 No reason to ask for a nightmare.

This is the story of a family farm that seems to have the "devil" wanting to take over the lives of the people who live there. The story is told around the girl whose farm it is as well as her 3 friends. It also shows the lives of those 3 friends in this tiny little town. There is a bit of blood. But not too bad. The story kept me intrigued the whole time. 

I took a 1/2 ⭐ away bc EK took the easy way out of the explanation of one of her characters in the epilogue.  And the epilogue is actually 3 chapters long. Which I felt was almost so perfect. Minus that important explanation. Pity. It was close to being a 5.

#bookstagram #bookreview #bookrecommendation  #booknerdbookreviews #gottareadthisbook
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lush and gorgeously written, but also blood-soaked and horrific. i have a soft spot for this maggie stiefvater brand of contemporary fantasy, set in a world that is ours but laced with an undercurrent of otherness and magic. huge fan of this one!
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This is not my cup of tea but I don't like horror. I can see how a teen who enjoys horror would like this and based on the professional reviews this is a book that I would buy for a teen collection to update the horror topic.
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Wake the Bones was the unexpected spooky read I didn't know I needed this summer! I did not expect it to go as far as it did, horror doesn't usually have a physical effect on me but some of the final scenes had me feeling actual dread. The atmosphere and descriptions were excellent and drew me in constantly from the first pages. I have since recommended this to several people and my book club!
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After returning home from her failed attempt at college, all Laurel Early wants is to resume her life as a tobacco hand and taxidermist—and to stop thinking about Ricky, the boy she can’t help but love. But something has started haunting her and her farm, and soon, she makes discoveries about her late mother that lead to the realization that she must use her own magic to save everyone she loves.

I was intrigued from page one by the atmospheric and descriptive writing that made you feel like you were on the farm or in the woods. It was eerie and the characters were well developed. When the chapters ended, I always wanted to read on to know what would happen next. This book was imaginative and unique, a great combination of horror and romance!
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So I want to start off by saying that this book is very visual. The author is great at painting the picture of the scene in your mind through description. I did enjoy that but I was hoping for something a little more “horror” considering the title and synopsis but thats not really the case. This book is like 5 parts herbology, 4 parts romance and 1 part “scary”. I just had expectations and they weren’t met. It was just an ok book for me despite that.
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Side note: I truly TRULY appreciate the fact that the author made sure she posted on GoodReads for trigger warnings as there were quite a few.  

Ok so that being said,  this was very different from the books I have read in the past.  It could fall into so many genres, horror, thriller, mystery, and YA  

However, readers be warned,  the book is a little on the slow side. I get while it needs to be. Kilcoyne takes her time developing these characters and you could tell she put a lot of time and effort into developing these character,

Give it a chance though, you will understand when she is trying to do! 

Thank you Netgalley for the arc!
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Although there are aspects of the setting and atmosphere that I can appreciate, and there were times where I was invested in the characters, there were also many moment when I checked out of what was happening and came back paragraphs later not knowing if I missed much. There was also an issue near the end that was possibly meant to be an interesting reveal, but I was mostly left wondering if I just missed something. I had a good time with this tale, but constantly jumping POV was a little off-putting.
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Bummer! This book started out so good, then it fell apart and became a boring repetitive romance novel. This book had so much potential with the set up with the witch elements, but then it petered out and only had that in the book sparingly. 

I'm not a fan when a fantasy horror novel gets hijacked by constants love hate relationships. I get it, one boy likes the other boy, but the other boy is afraid to come out to everyone. It just gets boring to me. I want to horror and fantasy elements. 

Thanks Netgalley and publisher for the digital copy in exchange for my honest review!
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Thank you to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for this book in exchange for an honest review. 

This book just wasn't for me. I started the audio and got about 25% of the way into the story, but just wasn't able to follow and kept getting confused. This doesn't mean this book won't be perfect for someone else, it just didn't up being for me.
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DNF at 29%. I tried and tried and TRIED but I just couldn’t get into the book, or bring myself to care about what happens.
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Animal carcasses, bones, and death don’t scare Laurel — she knows the wild woods and cultivated fields of her ancestral land like the back of her dirt-stained hands. But when Laurel and her friends Ricky, Isaac, and Garrett encounter unexplainable gruesome corpses and old bones moving around seemingly of their own accord, the summer’s routine of farmwork is shattered by their fear. Though unsure what she wants for her future, Laurel is determined to protect her home and loved ones at all costs…even as it becomes clear that she’s up against something much more sinister than any natural force.

You know how every so often when you pick up a book, read the first page or two, and immediately know you’re going to love it? “Wake the Bones” is one of those rare, beautiful books for me and I loved it more the more I read. From the first sentence, I was immediately arrested by Kilcoyne’s writing style — the imagery is lush and palpable, the characters alive and complex, and the blend of modern reality and gothic mysticism somehow feels effortlessly visceral. While the narrative focuses on the supernatural mysteries and dangers plaguing Laurel and her home, underlying themes such as death, grief, prejudice, love, and loss are also explored. Throughout the story, horror elements and things-that-go-bump-in-the-night are used to draw out character’s depths in an artful and expertly crafted way. I truly loved everything about “Wake the Bones”; it’s a stunning debut novel and I cannot wait to see what Kilcoyne writes next.
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