Book Review – A House with Good Bones

An archeological entomologist finds herself with a cancelled dig and temporarily out of an apartment so she takes the opportunity to go stay with her mom for a little while. Things at mom’s house (according to her brother) seem off… something isn’t quite right and it would be great if Sam could go visit. When Sam arrives, it takes only days to discover that Brad was right, things really aren’t okay and the reason why is completely unbelievable.

This book was everything I hoped it would be and so much more than I expected. I’d call it a slow build up to the big spooky reveal and lots of unusual things can, at first, be explained away by some mental straining to come up with “logical explanations”. However, once we reach Sunday Dinner, all bets are off and there’s no mistaking that this is a total paranormal horror story.

The characters were excellent throughout. I loved Sam, and I loved that she was a bit weird, nerdy, academic, and had great body positive outlooks about herself (she’s overweight). Basically, I’d have loved to have grown up to be her. Her mom Edie was a fun character and I feel like over using Post-It Notes like she did may actually bring some organization to my life (that I desperately need). I really liked Phil. He was very casually laid back and a perfect gentleman, even in the midst of the crazy stuff he got thrown in to. And I absolutely adored Gail & Hermes (the neighbor and her disabled vulture). Even the nasty mean grandmother, Gran Mae, was a well thought out character who you just wanted to dislike so much, but have to admire anyways.

The story was not scary to me, even though it’s being categorized as horror. It had some unsettling parts but nothing too over the top or gory. I’d say it was leaning more towards a cozy Southern Gothic with elements of magic, paranormal, and creepy little monster things. The first 60% of the story has small bits of weird things happening as Sam tries to figure out what’s making her mom act so out of character, but the truly odd stuff doesn’t happen until around the 75% mark, then it really takes off.

The one thing I wish T. Kingfisher had elaborated on was the entomologist part of Sam’s identity. Bugs are creepy and crawly and as humans we have a natural aversion to them, so it’s super easy to work them into horror stories with maximum effect. This story didn’t quite do that for me. The ladybugs weren’t creepy at all… I actually just felt bad that some were unavoidably getting squashed instead of being creeped out by them. In a whole world of bugs residing in the south, I expected to read some icky stuff about centipedes or beetles or earwigs, but I was left feeling a little let down. Not enough to lower my rating though, because this book was definitely a winner all around.

Overall, I give it a 5 out of 5.

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9 responses to “Book Review – A House with Good Bones”

  1. I’m normally such a wuss about scary books, and I buddy read this with a friend, and we both decided that this deserves its own genre – cozy horror! It had elements of creepiness, but it wasn’t outright terrifying, and it had so much humor mixed in that it eased up on the tension somewhat. This is the perfect review for such a great book.

    Liked by 1 person

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