Review: The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

The Bone Houses

Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Released: September 24th, 2019
Received: Own
Warnings: Animal death, corpses & rot
Rating: 4 1/2 kitties

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones is a darker fantasy story, one full of magic and death. It’s much like a faerie tale, full of lessons, loss, and love. This is a novel that will thrill you and chill you. It’s perfect to read during a dark and stormy night.

In a world where magic is real, and corpses can get back up again (known as Bone Houses), there are plenty of lessons for one to learn.

Ryn is a gravedigger. She took up the job once her father went missing, and she’s been doing an okay job of keeping her family afloat ever since. But times are changing, as is the magic in the area. The Bone Houses that once stuck to the woods are now venturing out – and putting them all at risk.

Ellis is an apprentice mapmaker. That is what he wants to be known as. Not the boy with a dark or mysterious past. Just Ellis the mapmaker. His ambitions have led him to Colbren, a village on the side of a mountain. And it’s that mountain that he hopes will make his name.


“And perhaps this was the truth about the dead. You went on. They’d want you to.”

Spoiler Warning

Warnings: In case it wasn’t obvious from the title or description, The Bone Houses deals with death. A lot of it. There are walking corpses. And they’re in various stages of decay. There are sometimes graphic descriptions of this. There’s also some animal death (and reanimation) to contend with.

The Bone Houses was an astonishingly chilling read. It was beautifully written, full of lush details that made the world leap off the pages and feel startlingly real. This is one of those books that’ll latch on to your imagination, and hold on until you cave in and finish reading it.

Or, at least that way the case for me. Even when I put The Bone Houses down, my mind was occupied with the story being told. I couldn’t distract myself from it, especially not towards the end. So I would strongly advise against doing what I tried to do: reading The Bone Houses during 15 minute breaks from work. It doesn’t work out that well.

There is so much to love about The Bone Houses. Emily Lloyd-Jones’ writing is elegant, sophisticated, and atmospheric. I loved every minute, even the graphic detailing of the Bone Houses themselves. It was impossible to look away.

I loved the concept behind the Bone Houses; how they walked and acted. The rules they had followed (or rather, the rules that Ryn believed they followed based on her observations). It was all fascinating. And okay, it was dark as well. But in a good way.

Speaking of Ryn; I found myself surprised by how much I enjoyed reading from her perspective. She’s one of the most compassionate characters I’ve read about – and yet it’s all bundled up behind a tough exterior. Her love for her siblings and respect for the dead was breathtaking and refreshing.

The romantic subplot in The Bone Houses was a nice touch. It was a desperately needed ray of light in what could have been a much darker tale. It was also an extra touch of what makes us human – an ironic bit when you stop and think about it.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Emily Lloyd-Jones. And clearly, I’m going to have to add her backlog to my massive TBR list, because I’m smitten with her writing style. I need more of this and fast.

About Liz (AKA Cat)

I am an avid animal lover, photographer, reader, and much more. While my photography blog is feeling a bit neglected at the moment, the other sites I'm involved in are going strong. ✧I review books, comics, and basically anything else in the literary world over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks (of Books). ✧I review comics and books, as well as write content for Word of the Nerd. ✧I review comics for Monkeys Fighting Robots. ✧I write content for Screen Rant and CBR. ✧I write book reviews for The Review Crew.
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