Cover Image: Wake the Bones

Wake the Bones

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Member Reviews

Omg just in time for spooky season I read this book and it had me on my toes. If you’re looking for a creepy disturbing book for fall that you will BINGE. Look no further.
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I would rate this book 4 stars. I thought it was great. I was intrigued the whole time. I could not put it down. It is slightly disturbing at some parts so I would check the trigger warnings. 

I like the characters and I also like the plot. I thought the author did a great job painting the picture in my head. 

This book was pretty creepy and it would be a good book to pick up for this spooky season.
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This weird, twisty story was exactly what I was looking for! It's creepy with just the right amount of suspense to keep you hooked and reading more. I loved, loved this book and can't wait to see what Kilcoyne comes out with next.
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I really wanted to like this - I have been wanting to read more horror, and this sounded really interesting. Unfortunately, the execution didn't work for me. The horror seemed to rely more on body gore and blood and animal death, which I don't particularly care for, and the plot didn't seem to make too much sense. I also feel the author was trying to write both a contemporary fiction novel and a fantasy horror novel in one book, and so some of the changes in scenes were a bit jarring. The characters weren't bad but I felt none of them really had much depth, and I didn't like that the only female character besides the lead was nothing more than a plot device. Overall, I just struggled with this one, and it just wasn't for me.
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Wake the Bones was a really weird but interesting book. Like the weirder things got the harder it was to look/walk away from it all. I'll admit that Laurel was a strange character too. Mostly because she was a taxidermist and I don't think I could do that myself. It's definitely a me and not you situation.

After meeting her, and the rest of the characters, we start to dive into the mystery of it all. Especially when we dive into the hauntings and the devil. I had so many questions and thoughts floating around in my head while I was reading this. Things and situations never went the way I thought it was going to go. Which is probably why this is such a good book to digest within a sitting (or two). 

Towards the end, I had a feeling not everyone was going to make it but I'm just basing that off of all the horror movies I've watched before this. It was still really weird, interesting, and entertaining though. I'm really happy that I got the chance to jump into this around Halloween because it's a spooky book that everyone deserves!
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Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an advanced review copy of “Wake the Bones” by Elizabeth Kilcoyne. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

For some reason, I had this book confused in my mind and thought it was fantasy? It’s more contemporary fantasy taking place in a small southern town. The setting really shone in this book. I feel like I actually visited this town because the descriptions were that detailed but not in an info dumping way. This story had a lot of horror elements which aren’t my favorite in stories but I thought the author found this interesting blend of setting and horror elements that made this book feel like nothing I’ve ever read before! It was somehow an ideal summer read but wouldn’t be out of place on a spooky season TBR pile. 

There are a lot of POV switches which I was sometimes a bit confused by but looking at the story overall I think they worked. There’s also some drug use and the horror elements aren’t really something I go for in books but I would definitely recommend this to fans of spooky tales. I feel like the ending could be kind of polarizing but again I felt like it worked for the story.

I would absolutely pick up another book by this author! The setting and descriptions were so strong. I’ll keep an eye out for their next book for sure.

4/5 stars
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thank you to netgalley for giving me this arc and for me to give a honest review 

i didn't mind the premise of the plot, seemed to have promise but i can't tell if its a "its not you its me" situation because i couldn't find myself to care about the romances and in fact, both just felt like they were sudden. one of the adamant that he wasn't going to tie himself to the other but did anyways. the characters weren't too bad, but also i just didn't find myself caring for them much. the magic element of the world did feel really sudden so once the plot had involved the magical aspect, i did admittedly lose quite a bit of attention.
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A dark and atmospheric tale, a young woman longing to uncover the secrets that have been holding her back, a intimate look at buried lies and how the truth affects our lives even when it comes from deep within the past.
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I wanted to love this one so badly, but I was just so bored. I also couldn't get into the writing style, and the romance took away from this book's creepy aspects.

DNF @~20%
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Unfortunately, this was not my cup of tea, but I am not the biggest fan of horror. Based on the professional reviews this is a book that I would buy for a teen collection to round out horror.
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I was very pleasantly surprised with this book! It was super fast paced and I absolutely flew through it. It was very unsettling but that's what I loved about it. Super great weird, and gothic YA !
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The premise of this book pulled me in, thinking it would be similar somewhat to The Bone Houses. I enjoy the cross between magical realism and thriller/horror, but the time this book was set in confused me a little. With college being mentioned and phones, it felt modern but still had the feel of being from the early 1900s at the same time. I was also looking for more horror/dark magical realism than I was getting. I enjoyed the writing and would certainly pick up another book from this author. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC.
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Laurel has lived a hard life. Her mother died when she was a baby; her father is never mentioned. She lives on a farm with her uncle, where they both work long and hard to get by. Laurel earned a scholarship to college in the city, but somehow college was more than she could handle, and she returned home - where she hears stories from bones and graves and dead things, and uses dead things to help support herself, through taxidermy and decorative items made from bone. The only real bright spot in her life is her friends, Isaac, Ricky, and Garrett.

Laurel, like her mother before her, has magic, but it is dark magic, the magic of death and dying, and she doesn't use it much except in her work. But there is another type of magic too, the magic of life, of growing green things - but the magic of death haunts Laurel, in the form of a devil her mother died trying to kill, tying the devil to the farm where Laurel lives with her uncle. When it breaks free, Laurel must find a way to restrain it again, hopefully to destroy it utterly - but the death magic her mother tried, while restraining the devil for a while, is wearing thin. Can the devil be better stopped with death, as Laurel's mother tried, or life? And without her mother to guide her in the use of her magic, how can Laurel know how to use either, much less how to choose between them?

This is a dark book, dealing as it does in death magic, devils, and ghosts, and also dealing as it does with a group of teens in a rural, depressed area of Ohio somewhere outside of Cincinnati.  Laurel and her friends are all living quiet, somewhat dead-end lives, every one of them afraid to leave, but slowly withering because they've stayed. It's well done for its genre, but if you're looking for fantasy magic, this isn't it. Because of the themes, it is recommended for readers 16 and older.
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I really wanted to love this book. It sounded dark and whimsical, but it fell flat on both of those counts. In a book that had magic and devils and a bit of romance, I was expecting this book to be atmospheric (like The Raven Boys), but I think the author tried to put too much into one book. It has multiple perspectives and a side plot that I think detract from Laurel's (main character) story. Had it focused on Laurel's magic and the supernatural goings on with her farm, I think I would have connected better to the story. I didn't dislike the book; I just wanted more from it.
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Laurel returns home after withdrawing from school. She resumes her work as a taxidermist and also helps to harvest tobacco, but strange occurrences upon her return fuel her belief that her mother may not have been as crazy as the town thought. The future of those she loves depends on her figuring out who or what might be searching for her.

Wake the Bones is a creepy Southern gothic novel that held a lot of promise. I was immediately captivated by the writing. It is atmospheric with descriptions so vivid the summer heat penetrated my screen while the hopelessness of living in the town overcame me. I cannot read ghost stories or horror novels. Anything remotely creepy often gets put away, but the writing pushed me to continue even when I wanted to stop.

While I loved the writing, it was difficult for me to connect with the characters. The book is told from multiple points of view with Laurel serving as the main character. She’s not particularly likeable and difficult to sympathize with. Of all the characters, Garrett was easily the most likeable. Even though I disliked how he (and everyone else) treated Christine, a character who deserved more chapters than she was given. While there are two romances, only one had chemistry. It was not clear to me why Laurel liked who she liked; he just seemed like the only choice available to her. 

I had so many different feelings about the book. It was atmospheric and the writing was wonderful, but ultimately the story itself was not a great fit for me. If you’re a fan of Southern gothic horror and beautiful writing, Wake the Bones would be a good choice.
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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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