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The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Butterfly Yellow by Thanhha Lai
Cat Got Your Secrets by Julie Chase
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The Bone Houses: 11/01/19

The Bone Houses

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones reads like a decades later sequel to The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander but re-contextualized within a recognizable and knowable Welsh landscape. Rather than use the Afro-Caribbean term zombie, Lloyd-Jones uses a descriptive English compound noun: bone house to describe the corpses who rise from their graves and wander out from the forest near the abandoned mine.

Aderyn "Ryn" is a gravedigger, trying to keep the bone houses out of her town and the tax collector from foreclosing on her home now that her parents are dead and her uncle is missing. One night while patrolling the forest she meets a disabled mapmaker, Ellis. He offers to hire her to take him into the forest so he can draw a proper map.

Turns out they both have business in the forest. She wants to destroy the cauldron that is animating the bone houses. He wants to find evidence of his parents. The narration alternates between both their points of view to build a compelling historical horror/fantasy.

The novel also sits on the road narrative spectrum. Although there is a slow burn, the two travelers do become a couple by the end (33). As their goal is stop a decades old curse and to discover the identity of unknown parents, the destination is uhoria (CC). The route through the forest, through a cave, and across a haunted lake, is an offroad one (66). All together Bone Houses is the tale of a couple traveling to uhoria via an offroad route.

Five stars

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