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The Bone Garden: 10/25/19

The Bone Garden

The Bone Garden by Heather Kassner opens in a cellar with a tunnel lit by oil that leads under the earth to the graveyard. A maze of paths lead directly to the coffins that sit waiting for Irréelle to harvest the dust of their bones for her mistress, Miss Vesper.

Irréelle's life revolves around keeping Miss Vesper happy. It's an impossible task and Vesper is a horrible and abusive person. Every task undertaken is met with criticism and the threat of death. Vesper claims to have created Irréelle from bone dust, cinnamon and her own will. What she creates she can destroy with just a thought. To give her words more weight, she proves to Irréelle that she can create life from bone dust.

That realization prompts Irréelle to flee for her life into the bone garden — the one place Miss Vesper won't go. It's there that she meets up with children who share her situation and origin story. Together they will do what they can to find the truth to Miss Vesper's story.

Although this middle grade horror is set entirely in confines of Miss Vesper's home, the bone garden, and above ground in the graveyard, it sits comfortably on the road narrative spectrum.

Irréelle, as her name implies (un-real in French), has been created by Miss Vesper. So have her companions. As they are creations, they are scarecrows (99). The children's goal or destination, if you will, is home (66). They want a safe place where they can live without Miss Vesper's abuse. Their route, through the bone garden, through the cemetery, is offroad (66). All together, The Bone Garden is the tale of three scarecrows trying to find a home via an offroad route.

Five stars

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