Wake the Bones

A Novel

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Buy on Amazon Buy on BN.com Buy on Bookshop.org
*This page contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add kindle@netgalley.com as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 12 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 26 Jul 2022
St. Martin's Press, Wednesday Books


"YA horror has found a new standard-bearer." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Dark, gripping, and gorgeous, Wake the Bones will lead you into the woods and keep you up late. As lush and sweltering as a Kentucky summer... Elizabeth Kilcoyne is a force.” - Gwenda Bond, New York Times bestselling author

The sleepy little farm that Laurel Early grew up on has awakened. The woods are shifting, the soil is dead under her hands, and her bone pile just stood up and walked away.

After dropping out of college, all she wanted was to resume her life as a tobacco hand and taxidermist and try not to think about the boy she can’t help but love. Instead, a devil from her past has returned to court her, as he did her late mother years earlier. Now, Laurel must unravel her mother’s terrifying legacy and tap into her own innate magic before her future and the fate of everyone she loves is doomed.

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.

"Seething with shadows, summer, and uniquely southern magic, Wake the Bones is a powerful debut that captures the ache of home being a place you simultaneously love and loathe." - Hannah Whitten, New York Times bestselling author of For the Wolf

"YA horror has found a new standard-bearer." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Dark, gripping, and gorgeous, Wake the Bones will lead you into the woods and keep you up late. As lush and sweltering...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781250790828
PRICE $18.99 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (EPUB)
Send to Kindle (EPUB)

Average rating from 513 members

Featured Reviews

Wow wow wow! I came in loving the cover, and eager to read Wake the Bones, and boy did I really enjoy this creepy story!! She perfectly captured a small-town, gothic-horror tale. Loved how weird it was!

Was this review helpful?

If you're in the mood for a creepy AF read, may I present WAKE THE BONES by Elizabeth Kilcoyne! This book flat-out scared me in places. It's haunting and the story leaves many things open, but in the way of gothic-fantasy-horror, where (as a reader) I'm not expecting everything to be explained--that's part of the charm, imo. Overall, I enjoyed this weird, twisty story and look forward to reading more from Kilcoyne.

Was this review helpful?

There's much to like about Kilcoyne's debut novel, but what is sticking with me the most is her gorgeous use of language. Her ability to evoke an place and a time: I could feel summer and smell the rot as I read this book and I loved it.

It loosely reminded me of The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater in the stubborn, flawed protagonist with her group of flawed, stubborn boys. It loosely reminded me of The Night Circus in how deliciously atmosphereic it was. But Wake the Bones was its own book entirely.

Is it a perfect book? No. But do I mind that? Also no. So next year when it's published, a print copy will be coming home with me.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ebook ARC. All thoughts are mine alone.

Was this review helpful?

*Spoiler free*

Just from this title, I knew I wanted to read this book. I didn't even need to know much else. I knew it would be about something dark and sinister rising from the earth, and a girl who is trying to stop the devil from coming after her like it did her mother. That's basically all I needed to know to know that I wanted to read this book. Trigger warnings: mental and physical abuse, violence, suicide, blood

This book was WEIRD, and I mean that as a huge compliment. It's the kind of weird that blooms in your veins, makes it's home under your skin. It's the kind of weird that haunts, and it's a book that is so, so good.

This book embraces everything that it is. It's bizarre and twisted and horrifying and it completely leans into that. And honestly it's what I love about it.

Honestly everything I loved about this book I loved because it was weird. The writing, the magic, the characters, the plot, everything was downright weird. I know I'm saying that a lot, but it's true. The magic, it's intense and biting and comes in waves. The characters, there emotions are bright swells that seem to spill over the hills. The plot is something that sweeps through the book, a darkness that lurks in the seems until it infects everything around it. The emotions are complicated and thorny, so much pain and hurt between them all, but also so much love. All of this ties together into something that is sharp, but lovely, and very, very weird.

The writing was also something that I really loved. It's twisty in a way, seeming to stretch and pull everything in different ways, seeing how things move. It gives the book a roundedness to it, makes it seem like every corner is explored. It felt very cool, and I really, really liked it.

This book isn't about ghosts, but it felt very haunting. It's about something waking up once again. And it's hungry. It's horrifying, and full of death, but also a type of life too. There's a lot of bones and a girl trying to pull magic so protect those she loves. It won't be a book for everyone, but I really, really loved it. It's packed with so much feeling, about friends trying to hold onto each other and keep each other safe, and trying to fight off what is coming to get them. It's so, so good.

Was this review helpful?

If you've started making your 2022 TBR and are on the lookout for an supernatural and atmospheric story to read Wake the Bones by Elizabeth Kilcoyne is must book to read.
The story is unique, and the world building is executed superbly. The characters are complex, relatable, endearing and interesting.
Overall, I enjoyed this debut novel and definitely looking forward to reading this author's next book!

A special thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press & Wednesday Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

“Wake the Bones” by Elizabeth Kilcoyne is a southern gothic from the hellish heat steaming off the pages to the horrifying creatures lurking in the shadows. Readers looking for a chilling read that will fill them with dread and make them question what they understand about magic should add this book to their reading lists.

Laurel Early is presented as a regular college drop-out who returns home to the family farm and spends her free time as a taxidermist. Except, something on the farm has awoken and it wants Laurel. Bad. Whether it’s the devil or something else entirely, it is pure evil and it wants nothing more than to hurt and ruin everything in its path until it has Laurel. Left with no other choice, Laurel must tap into her magic and dig into her family history if she has any hope of defeating the creature that haunts her before it destroys everything she loves.

Kilcoyne’s writing is insanely captivating, chilling, and full of beautiful passages that create an enriched world readers will easily immerse themselves in. The landscape, plot, characters, magic and unsettling atmosphere solidifies into a world that will feel tangible and realistic. Kilcoyne is one of those authors who manages to bring every aspect of their story to life in a way that is gripping and truly terrifying.

The idea that everyone has a little bit of magic in them is a fascinating concept. While only a select few can access the magic within them, it felt like it was lingering beneath everyone’s skin, waiting to be released. At the same time, it felt contained to a specific place only a select few can access and wield to their desire. Either way, the magic was an intense aspect to the story that was an intriguing twist to unravel.

On top of the magic, it will take readers no time to become fully engaged in the characters and the complexities of their lives. Each one takes residence and fills up space with their personalities and issues in this novel that brings a whole other level to the realism. Anyone who picks up this novel will relate to the characters and find they will want to stick around to see how everything plays out with their hopes and dreams.

Of course, the horror aspect of this novel was incredibly terrifying and rich with gore. Kilcoyne’s imagination when it comes to dark and gruesome is untameably wild and spooky in the best way possible. While it would be amazing to see a book like this hit big screens, it’s the kind of book one is thankful to read because the creatures are so bizarre and frightening. Fans of horror will be thrilled with the kinds of messed up and off-kilter creatures that hurtle across these pages.

“Wake the Bones” by Elizabeth Kilcoyne is a book readers should not be missing out on. This deliciously horrifying tale is expected to be published on July 12th, 2022.

A big thank you to St. Martin’s Press (Wednesday Books) and NetGalley for inviting me to read this chilling e-arc and giving me the opportunity to share my honest opinion in this review.

Was this review helpful?

Page turning battle of good vs. evil - past vs. present - and facing off to save the "family" you've made. Strong story that will grip you from the beginning - and pull you in to a world of friends and nature magic. If you are a fan of "It" this has a similar feel ...

Was this review helpful?

“Death did not scare her. Intentions did.”
Wake the Bones is a can’t-miss YA horror title. Kilcoyne’s writing is highly visual and full of striking, frightening images. Her prose is beautifully elegiac and mournful—for lost people, lost relationships, places, hopes, and dreams. Death haunts this novel, from character’s backstories to the vivid images of taxidermy threaded throughout. Laurel is a complicated and charismatic protagonist—you root for her even as she struggles with interpersonal connection and painful choices. What haunts the woods outside Laurel’s house? You will love finding out.

Was this review helpful?

Oh my god! This was excellent! Dark, spooky, gory! One of the best books I've read this year. I can't recommend this enough

Was this review helpful?

Perfectly dark. Perfectly creepy. Perfect small-town feel. I love this novel! I am going to put this on my purchase list for sure. I think our library's fiction book club will absolutely devour this one!

Was this review helpful?

I really enjoyed reading this book! It's a great atmospheric read with a unique story and great world building. The characters are really complex and unique and overall it's a great story.

Was this review helpful?

Despite the fact that i am still not that much of a horror reader, I am loving the fact that we are getting so many good creepy horror stories in 2022. I want to first talk about the writing! it was everything. It was so vivid and detailed and as if I were really in the scenes being described, which is both amazing and terrifying with how wonderfully creepy this book is. No matter how horrifying, it was also beautiful. There were so many quotes that I wish I could tattoo into my brain. The characters were well developed, complex, and relatable. I especially love a good found family dynamic, which this gives us in spades. I cannot wait to hold a physical copy of this book. This was just such a captivating read.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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!

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

This book was absolutely fantastic. I've already added it to our list for order this year and will recommend it to students.

Was this review helpful?

With prose so caramel-thick you could eat it with a spoon, a distinct voice, and twists that will keep you reading all night, WAKE THE BONES terrifies because of how true it is, from its study of grief and love to the way the characters all, in one way or another, want to become something larger/different than themselves.

Was this review helpful?

This book truly blew me away with the way it beautifully twines small town life, and the metaphysical it's breathtaking. There's all these little moments, memories that pull at each of the main characters and pulls them together. All the little nasty things about living in a small town and being around the same people that you've known your entire life.

I was not expecting the story that sprung from the pages, yes the description of this book is spot on. But when you're in the weeds in between the pages and experiencing this book it's a whole other experience. This book caught me off guard with it's mix between ghost story, love story and a touch of paranormal but it's all balanced together easily.

Normally with something like this we're talking about the main character alone but I felt like Laurel and her boys were the most dynamic. There's Garett and Isaac and their own personal brand of mistakes and missteps and then there's Ricky and Laurel. Both groups together make you wish for more on their stories but they leave you with just enough to feel complete.

I really appreciated the way magic was introduced into this book, I'm not sure I appreciated the way the town treated Laurel and her mother but that's neither here nor there since it's based on real life experiences rather than opinions. I felt that the way she experienced the world was truly unique, not only the little bit of magic that you find out about at the beginning of the book but the way she lives and grows in the world she lives in. The way she notices her friends and their own personal relationships or trauma. The way her surrogate "father" tries so hard to do right by her without letting her fall victim to the same things her mother did.

Can't express how much I recommend this book. If you're looking for a touch of magic, a little blend of romance some LGBTQIA+ moments. This book has pretty much everything. It addresses bias in an interesting manner and doesn't let it effect the story line but adds it's own flavor to it.

Please give this book the opportunity to wow you.

Was this review helpful?

An absolute must read! This book kept me guessing what would happen next ans unable to put the book down till I had consumed it in one sitting! 5/5 stars

Was this review helpful?

This was exactly what I was looking for when I read this synopsis and I’m so glad that I was able to read an early copy because it was the perfect winter read for me. It was dark and gritty and felt incredibly realistic even with the addition of magic.

I’m writing this review a few months after reading the book and I can still vividly recall so much of what I read, which is impressive considering how bad my memory is. But the entire atmosphere of this one was just so well done that I can still feel that creepy vibe when I think about it. And I mean that as a compliment.

The characters were fully fleshed out and their different relationships were so complex and well executed and it made the stakes that much higher since I was so invested in them all. The magic and everything was also just so dark and gritty and it just fit the setting so well.

I don’t even know how to talk about this one other than the vibes were perfect and the story flowed beautifully. I just really loved this book and I’m excited to read more by the author in the future.

Was this review helpful?

There is something deeply haunting about this book. It’s in the flow of the writing, the deep grief of the story. It’s raw and it’s aching and it’s just so grimly beautiful. Kilcoyne has proven herself to be a force, and I cannot wait to see what she writes next.

Was this review helpful?

I hope this author continues writing more horror novels, you just can’t find them like this anymore. Such a unique and creepy atmosphere, and while others had different opinions, I found that the slow pace added to the build up and didn’t feel like a detriment to the story for me.

Was this review helpful?

Dark and creepy in all the best ways! I really enjoyed everything about this book and will definitely look for more to read by Kilcoyne.

Was this review helpful?

wake the bones is a moody, beautifully written story that will sink its claws into you and not let go. the horror is slow burn as is the romance, which slowly pulls you into the world in the best way. the reveals and ending are definitely worth the read!

Was this review helpful?

Kilcoyne writes with a pen dipped in the blood of wild game. Her descriptions evoke the weight of summer heat, the stings and the sweat of long days outdoors. The setting and the characters feed into one another to ratchet up the simmering tensions of brittle lies, thwarted goals, conflicting attractions. The characters are interesting and likeable in a sometimes complicated way, mirrored to one another. Garrett was a runaway favourite. Atmosphere reigns supreme, and the Southern horror elements give this book a distinct and captivating flavour.

Good ghosts, good characters, good macabre. Exciting descriptions and a fast-driving plot make it a compelling read. The short time span of the novel's events, yet all that happens in that time, heightens the story's stakes. I loved it.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: