Photo credit: Zac Baldwin
Labor Day weekend is so different for me this year. My son is not going back to school until the 14, so I have another whole week home with him, and usually we gather at my parents house for the final summer holiday weekend. My parents are closing on my childhood home in a week and moved out months ago, on top of the fact I’m too concerned about bringing the virus to them to gather with them where they are now. The temps are dropping and I see the trees thinking about changing color, and I am thinking about taking my son apple picking, but my personal family traditions just got turned on their head in this crazy dumpster fire year. I didn’t spend the summer sitting in camp chairs on field sidelines or taking my son to special camps.
So this is the crossover from summer so I am posting on books that sneak a toe into the darker subjects. Not hurtling us into pumpkin season. Although I may have already had a pumpkin coffee. They are an interesting mashup of books but both worth the read.
The Bone Houses, Emily Lloyd-Jones
Ryn, a teenage girl come head of family come grave digger, sets out with a wayward semi aristocratic mapmaker (Ellis) to destroy the source of everlasting life that is causing zombies to invade her land and cause all sorts of issues. They are called Bone Houses and of course they are not so simplified as the cinematic representation of them crawling through the forest moaning “brains” every three minutes. The reason for the everlasting life is set in a Welsh fairytale.
This was really well done. I see calls for agents still willing to consider fairytale/folk stories as long as they are well done, preferably not well known, and I feel like I’m seeing more interest in non Western folk and fairy tales too. There is an origin tale inside the story and I don’t know how close it is to the original fairy tale, which is good because I feel like I’m read up on the most common ones. I listen to the Myths and Legends podcast sometimes too for story ideas and examples and I hadn’t come across this. I read it after The Tenth Girl because it was an audible sale and I thought it would be more Gothic than it was. And I like to read on a theme, but lately YA has mostly been the theme. I really liked how the mapmaker was one of those on the fringes of the elite and how he straddled those two worlds and I liked how Ryn was headstrong and fiercely dedicated to her family. I loved the twists and turns in this book, too, and I don’t want to out those too much because the way the story unfolds is really part of the magic of the book. And there is closure for the people who are seeking it. Interesting, multifaceted, and well done.
Tunnel of Bones, Victoria Schwab
Cassidy Blake is a tween girl who follows her parents around the globe as they film a ghost hunting TV show. Unbeknownst to her parents, her own brush with death has afforded her the ability to see the other side of the veil, and the catacombs of Paris (and Paris in general, let’s be honest) beckon to her with its many ghosts. She encounters one ghost, a child who is stirring up trouble and needs to be reminded of his history in order to move him on. In order to do this she has to figure out his history with her ghost best friend and her saucy mentor before the chaos he creates kills someone.
So this is the sequel to City of Ghosts, which I also enjoyed last year, but I agree with its higher rating on Goodreads. I loved the Scotland setting in the previous books, but having been to Paris and those very catacombs myself, Schwab wrote about it with such detail and clarity I was totally back in that city. The catacombs are such a cool setting too. But I thought the plot was more accessible, a small child causing chaos who needs to be stopped but with the added snafu of figuring out his history. I LOVE ghost TV shows because I like dark history, and probably like ghost stories for the same reason. This one was super fun, and I can see where it would be super scary for the middle grade audience it is intended for. I need to read so much more of her and I know it. I have more of her works. This is Halloweeny because it’s ghosty, but the theme of a kid managing an ability and concealing it from her parents in exotic locales is something that could be enjoyed any time of year. But, it’s fall, so GHOSTS.
So I think I have binge read enough during these last few weeks to return to weekly posts. No one should be surprised because it’s scary fall reads time and those are my favorite bingies. I can easily fill nine/ten Sundays of fall reading posts, and I know being consistent is better for my readership. I have a few posts waiting on my drive file and I’ll probably finish another witchy book today. And I took this week off, so more reading! Get psyched!