‘The Bone Houses’ – Emily Lloyd-Jones

A wonderfully atmospheric and, above all, hopeful read.

Ryn has always felt herself to be a little different to her neighbours. As one of the daughters of a gravedigger she doesn’t fear death, but her people are superstitious and when things start to change around the village it causes fear.

There have long been stories of the need to keep others happy, of the need to make offerings to those that dwell in the woods in exchange for peace. It would be easy to dismiss this as nonsense – as many do – but Ryn has seen the bone houses. She has killed them, doing her best to protect those she loves.

As with so many mysterious quests, one day an unknown visitor arrives in their village. The mapmaker Ellis seems harmless, but some fear he’s a spy. Ryn is asked to help take him to the mountains to plot his maps. She hopes that this trip will give her answers as to what happened to her father.

What follows is a slow journey as we discover a little more about the world Ryn inhabits, and a developing relationship.

I got drawn into this, and found the latter part quite moving. It was definitely a read that encourages you to reflect on yourself and your interactions with others. At times this felt like a read better suited to the younger end of the market, but I think there’s plenty here to keep readers happy.