Today, I’m going to review “The Bone Houses” by Emily Lloyd-Jones. This is an amazing story about the adventures of Ryn and Ellis through the wilds to fight back the undead that terrorizes their village – with the help of a trusty zombie goat, of course.
Be prepared; spoilers are ahead on our journey, so if that’s not your thing, click away now!
Now that you weary bookstore-explorers are ready, let’s get started!
Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don't always stay dead.
The risen corpses are known as "bone houses," and legend says that they're the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good? - Goodreads
The story begins in Colbren, a hub of traders and scouters that for the most part keep to themselves. After the disappearance of their father and death of their mother, Ryn and her brother (name) are left to fend for their tiny family alone, despite being just teenagers.
The lingering stench of their Uncle’s debts hang over the house and keep them on their toes, always fearing eviction from the town Lord. It doesn’t help that he isn’t a huge fan of the family business – burying corpses.
There’s also a weird phenomenon going on; zombies hang around the woods just across from the town, brought back by a mystical cauldron of life hidden deep within the wilds. In Colbren, the dead don’t always stay dead; you must bury them on sacred ground to avoid an inevitable zombie-fate from the magic that sits just beyond the trees.
When Ellis comes searching for the village hoping to map out new treks and passages through the woods for the Prince, he finds himself lost in the wilderness with just a few maps and pens to tie him over until the next day. When he tries to catch some sleep to ease the pain in his injured arm, he finds himself in the grasp of a haunting figure – that of the undead.
Luckily, Ryn is able to stop them just in time with her trusty pick-ax.
Once the duo realizes there’s something even more unusual than the dead lurking around the woods at night – them lurking around the village during the day, they must come to terms with the fact that they’re the only ones who can put a stop to this madness.
That is, with the help of their recently resurrected pet goat who, for some reason, manages to maintain his composure despite being hacked to death and brought back to life, all in the desire for snuggles.
The Bone Houses is amazingly suspenseful and elegant, turning a creepy and gory reality into a legendary adventure full of relatable emotions and even more relatable characters. I found myself lost in a story of family, magic, friendship, and most of all, hope.
This surely came unexpectedly to me when I realized this was a book about zombies, but you’d never think it was stereotypical after getting past the first chapter. There were many scenes in this book that moved me to tears, both happy and sad, and many that made me feel like screaming, both in terror and delight.