The Bone Houses

By Emily Lloyd-Jones,

Book cover of The Bone Houses

Book description

Seventeen-year-old Aderyn ("Ryn") only cares about two things: her family, and her family's graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote Welsh village of Colbren, which sits…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked The Bone Houses as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The older I get, the more I appreciate fantasy stories with lower, more personal stakes than, for example, saving the world from impending doom. I want the escapism of fantasy and magic grounded in emotions and scenarios I can relate to in some small way.  

The Bone Houses is, amongst the walking corpses, the undead goat, the Welsh folklore, and the magic cauldron, a story about a young woman grieving for her father, and a young man searching for family. I found this book when I was still working through the grief of losing my own father—a Welshman and a…

I love zombies. They’ve always captured my imagination, but they’re rarely portrayed as originally and thoughtfully as they are here. In this book, the walking dead are known as bone houses, and the mystery is why they’ve suddenly started leaving the woods and attacking the village of Colbren. The Bone Houses is heavily influenced by Welsh mythology, and I’m an enormous fan of mythology in general, so that drew me in. But while I expected to enjoy this book, the unexpected emotional moments made me fall in love with it. And as someone who suffers from chronic pain, I really…

I love this book because it feels like stepping into a creepy fairytale. The restless dead wander the shadowy forest surrounding Ryn’s small village. Ryn is an apprentice gravedigger and normally the dead hold no fear for her. But their numbers are growing and now Ryn might be the only one who can save her people from being destroyed by an ancient curse. This book is still firmly in the category of fantasy rather than horror. I love that Ryn’s position as a gravedigger gives her a unique perspective on death that allows her to face problems others would…

From Caitlin's list on spooky YA zombies, ghosts, and demons.

I don’t understand why this book wasn’t a massive cultural phenomenon with movies and action figures and volumes of online fanfic and whatnot. First of all, Lloyd-Jones can write with a capital W. In this fantasy novel, she paints a bleak and vivid picture of a tough-as-nails gravedigger living in a world where the dead don’t always stay dead. But even as these living corpses begin to attack their village and the plot gets particularly dark, the narrative is always character-driven and full of heart. On one level, The Bone Houses is great, taut horror, but it also has the…

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