A House with Good Bones is a horror novel about a woman who returns to her family home to find things not quite right, the house seemingly returning to how her dead grandmother would’ve wanted it, and uncovers some family secrets as she attempts to work out what is going on. Sam is a specialist in bug archaeology who ends up back visiting her mother, who lives in the home that was Sam’s grandmother’s before she died, a house they briefly lived in too during Sam’s childhood. Gone are the signs of her mother’s quirky personality and in their place is the severe normality of her grandmother and also her grandmother’s roses in the garden. As Sam worries about her mother, things keep getting weirder, from vultures watching the house to ladybirds appearing, and Sam must work out what she believes is happening.
I’ve read a couple of other T. Kingfisher horror novels and I was interested to see what this one brought, even though I don’t always enjoy her writing style. There were points in this one where I didn’t like the style (particularly the tendency for random parentheses to make offhand comments), but the story was gripping and I enjoyed the creepy world created in the novel. The narrative has a slow lingering build up as Sam tries to work out what might be going on and then a fast paced conclusion that really twists the book from quiet family secrets horror into something more supernatural. There’s some good creepy moments as roses and bugs seems sinister and though the book has gothic and magical elements, it is balanced in an interesting way by Sam’s scepticism.
Though at times the writing style wasn’t for me, A House with Good Bones is a gripping book that you can read quickly, centred around a house I could really picture whilst reading. I think fans of Kingfisher’s other horror books will enjoy this one, with a memorable quirky protagonist who is sure of herself and a weird family to unravel.
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