The Bone Houses

Little, Brown. Sept. 2019. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316418416.
Gr 7 Up–Teenager Ryn has been caring for her siblings via her steadily dwindling work as a gravedigger in their remote village. Though more villagers are turning to cremation than burial, the teen’s work isn’t getting any easier: the dead just won’t stay dead. According to legend, a fae curse stirs the corpses, or “bone houses,” that emerge from the nearby forest each night, and Ryn often enters the forest alone to stop the dead from reaching the village. On one of her outings, she finds Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker living with chronic pain. But with his arrival comes an attack more vicious than any before. Desperate to end the curse, the two teens travel through the forest to the mountains that once served as the home of the fae. With little backstory and only limited mention of communities outside of Ryn’s village, the book focuses on the teens and their mission. Both characters are fully realized, each beginning with a singular goal but ultimately learning that love and loss are their own journeys. Lloyd-Jones turns Ryn’s familiar fantasy quest through the woods into a new and magical journey, filled with the best parts of a fairy tale. Monsters, curses, love—both slow-burn and familial—beautiful descriptions of an eerie mythical Welsh setting, and a streak of humor make this stand-alone novel a must-read.
VERDICT This fresh take on the undead is recommended for YA collections

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