"The Bone Houses" | Reviewed by Caroline Miller
Updated: Aug 15
“The Bone Houses,” by Emily Lloyd Jones, offers a fresh look at fantasy with a hint of supernatural suspense. The bone houses are corpses that rise nightly. I am usually not a fan of books that are zombie-related but Jones put such a new spin on the trope that it magically works.
Aderyn is a gravedigger. She spends her days with her hands buried in the dirt or trudging through the depths of the forest in search of the restless dead. Aderyn, along with her two siblings, have lost everything: their mother and father. But they are soon going to lose their house and business too.
Aderyn is determined to prevent their town’s lord from taking their home and will go to any lengths to prevent it. Their home rests in a valley overlooked by the magnanimous Annwyvn Mountains. These mountains were once home to magical creatures and were an epicenter of power.
Over the years, the faerie castles were abandoned but remains of malevolent magic still abide there. Some of this leftover magic resulted in a curse that is making corpses that rise at night and terrorize Colbern, the town where Aderyn lives.
When a mysterious mapmaker arrives in Colbern the bone houses begin coming out of the forest more often. This mapmaker is Ellis, a boy who has no memory of his past, before the prince found him. Ellis’ journey brought him to Colbern, not only to make maps but to decode his own past.
Aderyn and Ellis make a journey into the mountains to stop the bone houses and uncover their own secrets buried there.
I absolutely loved this story and was genuinely surprised more people aren’t talking about this book. It has action, heartbreak, and even a slow-build romance to carry the plot along. Aderyn is a strong female character who protects Ellis constantly. She holds her own against the bone houses and protects her family at any cost.
Ellis grew so much as a character as well. He started out lost but by the end of the book he emerges confident in who he becomes. Ellis and Aderyn are so different and that’s why their characters fit so well together and mange to complete their quest. Their budding relationship was incredibly sweet and I was pleased at the end that these characters got to experience this bond.
I am always a fan of magic in books and this fantasy did not disappoint. Instead of the magic playing an active role the roots of the bone houses and the overall magic stemmed from long ago. The magic was explained through fables and stories that were equally interesting to the plot. I especially loved the spin on zombies and how Jones was even able to humanize the bone houses.
Overall, this fantastic book offers a lesson in humanity. Anyone looking for a different type of fantasy book should pick up “The Bone Houses.” Look for a paperback edition of this book in September.