Source: DRC via NetGalley (Macmillan – Tor/Forge, Tor Nightfire) in exchange for an honest review
Publication Date: March 28, 2023
Purchase Link: Amazon
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Why did I choose to read this book?
In the last 7 years of blogging about books, I’ve learned what I like and don’t like. I am surprised to find that I like horror novels a lot more than I thought I would, and I am a wicked sucker for a haunted house story. A House With Good Bones promised not only a haunted house but generational trauma and legacy so I requested it immediately from NetGalley.
What is this book about?
Samantha gets a call from her brother that her mom isn’t acting right. She’s an insect archaeologist but when her current dig in Arizona uncovers human remains and has to be put on hold, she takes the opportunity to stay with her mom in North Carolina. She and her mom are close, and she loves her mom, so the fact that certain things are out of sorts are very obvious to Sam. This book is about uncovering what is bothering her mom and how Sam has the power to help save everyone in their small neighborhood from the consequences of her ancestor’s actions.
What is notable about this story?
Hello yes, I appreciate positive, fat representation. To see a character who is fat and healthy just living her best life was a refreshing element. There was the inclusion of her grandmother’s t(h)aunts (LOL) about her weight, but that fueled the forward motion of escape and recovery from the past.
THE HANDYMAN THAT WORKS ON THE HOUSE IS SO GODDAMN ADORABLE. Seriously, I need a sequel to this that is just Sam and him getting together and fighting supernatural forces together.
The supernatural is just normal. Gail, a neighbor from down the street, is a witch. Everybody just accepts it. She can do some magic and helps when she’s needed. Inclusion of this kind of magic person also felt nice, like they can just live normal lives and people leave them alone about it.
I appreciated that Sam’s mom (Edie) did enough to stop the cycle of parents being cruel to their children. Edie has such a strong and loving bond with both her children (Sam and her brother) and does everything she can in this book to keep the issues with the haunting from affecting them. Edie could have easily been just as mean as her mother had been to her, but she chose not to be. I really respect that Kingfisher included this as a thread in the tapestry of escaping the influence of terrible relatives.
The vultures were REALLY COOL.
I laughed so many times reading this book. The humor is delightful.
Some haunted house stories feel really dark and have deep mysticism woven into them. Haunted houses are often a larger than life foe, hungry and full of intent. They want to fuck you up and then they want to be left alone. Haunted houses are usually in the middle of the woods, at the end of a long drive with a creaky gate, or at the top of a windy hill or cliff. Kingfisher breaks with those trends and has written a story that plops a haunted house in the middle of everyday life. It’s on a street with several other houses. There are block parties and barbeques! Sam’s grandmother had the best rosebushes in the area!
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – I love it when an author takes something we are used to seeing as hidden/broken/shunned/etc and makes it a normal part of every day life. THE NEIGHBORS COULD BE LIVING IN A HAUNTED HOUSE makes this all the more scary.
Was anything not so great?
I didn’t really walk away with any criticisms. If I had to say one thing, it was that the fat representation nods sometimes took me out of the story. Sam would go on mental rants about how doctors will celebrate weight loss even if it meant having a leg cut off (for example) and it felt a little like a soapbox moment – a moment that wasn’t necessary for the story’s progression but a statement about the world in general. A small quibble, and definitely not enough to keep me from devouring the book.
What’s the verdict?
5 stars on Goodreads and if you are a fan of horror you’ll definitely want to check this one out. It takes a lot of the tropes and asks you to think about them differently and my brain enjoyed that very much. This one is a confident purchase recommendation, but definitely request it at your local library too!
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