Book Review : A House with Good Bones

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review : A House with Good BonesA House With Good Bones by T. Kingfisher
Published by Tor Nightfire on March 28th 2023
Pages: 256
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three-half-stars
Source: NetGalley

A haunting Southern Gothic from an award-winning master of suspense, A House With Good Bones explores the dark, twisted roots lurking just beneath the veneer of a perfect home and family.
"Mom seems off."
Her brother's words echo in Sam Montgomery's ear as she turns onto the quiet North Carolina street where their mother lives alone.
She brushes the thought away as she climbs the front steps. Sam's excited for this rare extended visit, and looking forward to nights with just the two of them, drinking boxed wine, watching murder mystery shows, and guessing who the killer is long before the characters figure it out.
But stepping inside, she quickly realizes home isn’t what it used to be. Gone is the warm, cluttered charm her mom is known for; now the walls are painted a sterile white. Her mom jumps at the smallest noises and looks over her shoulder even when she’s the only person in the room. And when Sam steps out back to clear her head, she finds a jar of teeth hidden beneath the magazine-worthy rose bushes, and vultures are circling the garden from above.
To find out what’s got her mom so frightened in her own home, Sam will go digging for the truth. But some secrets are better left buried.

After reading What Moves the Dead, Nettle & Bone, and The Twisted Ones I’ve become something of a T. Kingfisher enthusiast, so I had to read her latest novella, A House with Good Bones. I love the author’s effortless writing style, which is somehow always a blend of conversational and fun, as well as eerie and suspenseful. A House with Good Bones is no exception to this rule, but this novella definitely leans more towards lighter, “fun” horror than outright scary.

 

“There was a vulture on the mailbox of my grandmother’s house. As omens go, it doesn’t get much more obvious than that.”

 

A House with Good Bones follows archaeological entomologist, Sam, as she goes back to her childhood home, originally belonging to her grandmother, to spend time with her ailing mother. As Sam spends more time in her mother’s home, it seems that there is more to her mother’s changed behavior than meets the eye. The longer Sam remains, the stranger things in the home become. This is the time when A House with Good Bones really excels, when it’s hinting at bigger, darker happenings. The suspense of what was behind Sam’s mother’s behavior and the odd happenings in the house, such as the house being watched by vultures, neighbors insinuating the house is haunted, and pictures falling off the walls and shattering, really had me dying to know what was truly going on.

 

I also really enjoyed A House with Good Bones’s look at family dynamics and how unhealthy relationships, as well as hauntings, can happen anywhere. One of the things I love about T. Kingfisher’s novels are that her characters are always anything but typical, they’re always quirky, original, and eccentric. I feel like in most horror books, readers automatically picture themselves in whatever horrific situation is unfolding and judge the characters’ poor decision making as unrealistic or just plain stupid. That is not the case with A House with Good Bones or The Twisted Ones, which both feature their offbeat protagonists acting in a very relatable manner—looking for rational reasons behind the ominous occurrences, realizing they can’t abandon their mother or dog, and so on and so forth. Both of these protagonists seek out help and accept it when it is offered too, none of this hiding deep, dark secrets and hoping everything will magically work out as things get progressively worse, which is something I really appreciate.

 

“It was just a little bit creepy. Which was ridiculous, of course. Creepy is for old Gothic mansions and run-down cabins out in the woods, not cookie-cutter houses in the middle of a subdivision.”

 

There is also a hint at a tiny bit of romance, or the very least, mutual attraction with a neighboring handyman, Phil, if readers squint. I found the exchanges between Sam and Phil pretty entertaining and even laughed out loud. Another neighbor lady, Gail, who has a pet vulture and a bit of a reputation, is also mysterious and interesting as well, even though she doesn’t have much page space. I always find it impressive how T. Kingfisher manages to flesh out her side characters in very little time at all.

 

Though the build up in A House with Good Bones was interesting and I had no real, solid guesses at what was truly going on in said house, I found that ultimately I preferred The Twisted Ones’s mystery and scarier tone. That novel actually had me outright scared, but A House with Good Bones never once frightened me, even in its spookiest moments. That being said, this novella still is a fun and quick read, with a different take on a lot of the supernatural and a female heroine who is smart and sympathizable. If you enjoy spooky tales that aren’t too scary or any of author T. Kingfisher’s other works, A House with Good Bones is an excellent and surefire addition to your to-be-read list.

 

three-half-stars
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Book Review : A House with Good Bones - Blogging with Dragons

Posted December 7, 2022 in ARCS, Book Reviews, Fantasy

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2 responses to “Book Review : A House with Good Bones

    • Me too, as long as it’s not mine being spooky ?
      I’m so glad that was helpful. I’m a big weenie and I always like to know what I’m getting into!

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