Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all well. Today I’m going to be posting my review of Debbie Howell’s brilliant novel, ‘The Bones of You’. I loved this book so much, and I just had to review it! So, here goes…
I have a gardener’s inherent belief in the natural order of things. Soft-petalled flowers that go to seed. The resolute passage of the seasons. Swallows that fly thousands of miles to follow the eternal summer.
Children who don’t die before their parents.
A community in shock
When eighteen-year-old Rosie Anderson disappears, the idyllic village where she lived will never be the same again. Local gardener Kate is struck with guilt. She’d come to know Rosie well, and thought she understood her – perhaps better even than Rosie’s own mother.
A family torn apart
Rosie was beautiful, kind and gentle. She came from a loving family and she had her whole life ahead of her. Who could possibly want to harm her? And why?
A keeper of secrets
Kate is convinced the police are missing something. She’s certain that someone in the village knows more than they’re letting on. As the investigation deepens, so does Kate’s obsession with solving the mystery of what happened to Rosie.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Contains references to abuse (emotional, physical and sexual) and pregnancy hardships
‘The Bones of You’ is Debbie Howells’s debut psychological thriller, and was released on 21st December 2015. Since that, she has also written ‘The Beauty of the End’ (July 2016) and ‘The Death of Her’ (due to be released on 24th August 2017). Prior to these psychological thrillers, she self-published the commercial fiction novel ‘Wildflowers’ in 2014. Howells now writes full time from her home in a small West Sussex village.
‘The Bones of You’ has received lots of positive praise. Daily Express pinned it “A psychological thriller about the dark side of suburban England”, Daily Mail called it “A dazzling debut from a writer who looks to me to have an exceptional future”, and Essentials Magazine said “Twists, turns and a shocking ending – it’s the most exciting whodunit we’ve read in years.” Many authors also loved the novel, such as Samantha Hayes: “Utterly compelling and addictive – a memorable debut” and Tammy Cohen: “The Bones of You is a brilliantly twisty read that delves deep into the dark heart of the seemingly perfect family.”
This novel is absolutely sensational, and I became utterly obsessed with reading it. It essentially revolves around the disappearance of eighteen-year-old Rosie Anderson, and seeks to find out exactly what happened to her and who was responsible. Family friend Kate becomes obsessed with solving the mystery surrounding Rosie, and stumbles upon some very shocking revelations along the way.
My initial favourite character was definitely Kate, who narrates the majority of the story. She’s a horse-lover and is incredibly caring and supportive, stepping in to help her friend Jo however she can after her daughter Rosie disappears. She is always putting others before herself, and I felt that she was a really positive role model. However, she has her own troubles and her own secrets, and struggles to cope when things get hectic. This made her an extremely relateable and realistic character, and I constantly hoped that everything would be okay for Kate in the end.
As the narrative progressed, my attention turned to Delphine, Rosie’s sister. She is quite a minor character in the beginning, but towards the end of the novel she plays a significant part and even narrates some chapters. I felt a massive amount of sympathy for Delphine – she’s a sweet girl who really does not deserve to suffer.
Jo is Rosie’s mother, who understandably is going through a really tough time after Rosie’s disappearance. She’s mentally ill and is unable to cope by herself, and her mental state gradually deteriorates throughout the novel. Neal is Jo’s husband and Rosie’s father. He’s a seemingly-good character, but there’s much more to him than the reader may first anticipate. Angus is Kate’s husband and they seem good together, but there are lots of secrets threatening to tear apart their perfect marriage.
The narrative switches in perspectives from Kate’s (making up most of the novel), to Rosie’s, to Delphine’s. Kate’s narrative tells the present-day story: essentially discovering exactly what happened to Rosie. Rosie narrates as a ghost, talking about her death and also providing her mother, Jo’s, dark history. I really loved Rosie’s narrative, as I found it very interesting and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Howells language is poetic and lyrical, as she addresses some very dark and serious topics through Rosie’s narrative.
**SORRY IF THERE ARE SPOILERS HERE, I AM JUST TRYING TO WARN READERS ABOUT SOME SENSITIVE TOPICS** I must say that this book was so much darker than I expected it to be. Jo’s past, including her upbringing and her relationship with Neal, is dark and troubling, and could trigger some readers who are sensitive to topics such as sexual assault, abandonment, abuse, pregnancy issues, violence or anything similar. I would actually skip this book if you feel like any of these issues could be triggering for you.
As the narrative motors forwards, lots of new secrets and revelations are thrown into the mix. This is a book full of mystery and suspense, and it contains so many twists and turns! You think you know whodunit, but then Howells throws a new element into the story and it takes a completely new direction. It’s impossible to guess the ending to this, and I think that’s one of the reasons I loved it so much!
So, let’s talk about the ending. I thought the ending was absolutely outstanding! It ended up in a totally different place to where it started; a place which I could never have anticipated. There’s a massive plot twist which I certainly never saw coming, and I’d be very surprised if anybody could! There’s a dramatic final scene in which we find out exactly what happened the night that Rosie disappeared, and events are finally brought to a close. I was very satisfied with the ending and felt that Howells truly did the character of Rosie justice.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book to those of you who like darker psychological thrillers. I personally loved it, and although some scenes were extremely uncomfortable to read, I’m glad I did read it. The characters are all outstanding and all bring something new to the novel; the plot unfurls terrifically; the novel is full of suspense and mystery; and the ending is just fantastic! The only criticisms I have are the fact that some scenes were so uncomfortable to read, and also I would have liked some themes that appear towards the end of the novel to have been explored more. A truly excellent read!
Happy reading 🙂