Book Review | A House With Good Bones (ARC)

I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of A House With Good Bones by T. Kingfisher. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.

I’m selective about what I read, particularly if it’s a horror novel (because I’m a coward). That said, I’m getting to the point where I’ll read any creepy story, as long as it’s written by T. Kingfisher. Seriously, I texted my friend with whom I buddy-read this book and said “we should read all her stuff.”

In A House for Good Bones, Sam Montgomery has been furloughed from her job as a paleoentomologist, so she returns to her mother’s home in North Carolina to check on her. When she arrives, she finds her mother changed—she’s repainted the brightly colored house, insists they say grace, and appears paranoid, as if someone is always listening. At first, Sam worries it’s something medical, but the longer she stays here, the more odd things she starts to notice too. Not to mention the vultures constantly staring at the house…

So first of all, I have to say I absolutely loved Sam. She’s got a fantastically dry and sarcastic sense of humor; her wit is one of the best parts of this already great book. She’s so witty, and the way she reacts to some things gives levity to the creepiness, and makes her relatable in general. I also quite liked Gail the eccentric neighbor, and Phil the handyman. But generally, the entire cast of characters is excellent.

It’s also a decently creepy story. At times, it seems as if Sam should catch on that there is something spooky and supernatural afoot, but that might just be a symptom of me knowing what genre of book she’s in. Still, watching the gradual reveal of what strangeness there is in this house was so fun to see. There are some genuinely chilling moments, from seemingly disembodied fingers brushing through one’s hair while they’re dozing, to a glimpse of a hand emerging from the earth in the background of a photo. And as everything builds, so does a kind of delightful sense of dread.

I do think the final act would have benefitted from being longer, though. There’s an entire sequence of events that I really wanted to linger in for a decent amount of time, but only spans about thirty pages. I wanted more creepiness! I also wish there had been more depth to the backstory of the family, specifically a certain long-dead character, that would have given more insight into why things are happening the way they are now. I also think there was a slight plot hole involving a jar, because where did it go? How did it come to be filled with what it was filled with? Unless that got addressed since the ARCs were printed, I’ll never know.

Still, in the end, A House With Good Bones is a remarkably entertaining, eerie novel. The characters are absolutely wonderful, the setting is vivid and ominous, and the plot is fascinating. The way family legacy, trauma, and supernatural forces are intertwined is so clever. And though I may have wanted to explore a couple more things in more depth, I still had a great time reading this. This book also got me to laugh at a sentence containing the word “antimacassar,” so I think that’s a positive worth noting, too.

As of today, March 28th 2023, A House With Good Bones is available!

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