Cover Image: Wake the Bones

Wake the Bones

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Member Reviews

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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I have been sitting on this really wondering how I feel about this, and I remain conflicted. The writing in this is stunning - Kilcoyne has this flowery writing style that I absolutely adore. There are sentences throughout the novel that really sound like poetry. The relationships between all the characters in the novel are romanticized and feel dreamlike due to this style, not to mention how the gothic horrory elements feel. There were moments where the atmosphere completely spooked me, and it is definitely an attest to this style of writing. However, besides the writing style and gothic atmosphere, there is quite little else that I enjoyed. I think the plot of the novel was fairly boring and I believe this is due to the fact that the magic system of the novel is not fully explained in a way that made sense to me. I really wanted to enjoy this and I just wasn't invested in it.
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This atmospheric and grotesque debut novel is bound to make your skin crawl - and it's so worth it! I'm honestly not sure what I expected when I requested this on NetGalley, but I was pleasantly surprised as I started thumbing through the pages.

The writing of this book is so descriptive and masterfully done. There were times when I could feel what the characters were feeling; the smell of must and rot from the woods the sticky feeling of congealed blood on your fingertips, the monochrome wash of nature in the night. 

The characters were all very different and fleshed out. Laurel, the main character, is a curator of odd hobbies - mainly taxidermy. The scene is set with her collecting and cleaning bones, along with her innate sense of connection to that past lives of the bones she handles. I think her fixation on death is a reflection of her own grief and loneliness, after losing her mother as an infant and only having her uncle to raise her and being a social outcast due to demonic rumours surrounding her mother's death 

Other characters include Isaac, her close friend. Garrett, Isaac's forbidden love interest. Ricky, her love interest. Jay, her skeptical uncle. Each has different impacts on the story, but mainly they act as a source of comfort, protection and fear as they help Laurel deal with the "devil". The only other female character is Christine, a weird and underused, as she is pivotal for Laurel to start understanding her inner power.

This book deals with a lot of tough topics, including death, grief, loneliness, alcoholism, queer identities in the deep south and mental illness. The imagery attached to each is artistic and well done. Twisted into magical realism, it brought an inanimate condition to life in the shadows of the woods, making it more of a representation of overcoming another being rather than overcoming something inside oneself.

This is such a great introduction to Young Adult horror. Though horror always has grotesque elements to it, this is written in such a way that the subject matter is palpable, but not so severe to give younger readers nightmares. Intimate interactions are all kept above board and fairly decent, which makes it better for youth.
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This book is gritty, that’s the best word for it. It was part horror, part fantasy and I couldn’t put it down. It was so different from anything I’ve read before, the pacing was great, and so was the story. I loved the characters and I was genuinely spooked for some of this book!
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This book interested me because of the eerie factor. 

It did not disappoint! The mix of fantasy and horror was perfect. 

This wasn’t my usual type of book, but I found I liked it.
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Thanks to the publisher for an eARC via NetGalley for review. 

CWs: animal death, death, violence, gore, abusive parent (mention of bruises, on-page scene with a slap), minor homophobia

This was a really interesting read. I liked the premise a lot, and I think the author did a good job of capturing the setting. I felt like I was on the tobacco farm with the characters in the heat of the summer. I found that the writing style was hard to get into at times, but other times it flowed really easily and I got completely sucked into the story. 
Laurel was a good character, but I felt like we didn’t really get super deep into her character. I liked the idea of the magic in this book, and also Laurel’s dreams about her mom. I also thought it was really interesting how her mom was able to be seen and heard by all of the characters. I liked Laurel’s relationships with Isaac, Ricky and Garrett. 
Christine was a really fascinating character. I liked how she was an outsider to our other characters, but she played an important role in the story. 
Isaac was also a good character. I liked that we got to see the push and pull of his relationship with Garrett and his desire to get away from this small town and his abusive dad. 
I thought the pacing was good in this one, and it had some intense and scary moments. It was a good summer horror.
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