My dear bookish friends!
With Halloween coming closer, are you looking for some spooky reads to put you in the right mood? If so, then you are in the right place, for I have a book for you that is just the perfect spooky read! Keep on reading to find out more about The Bone Garden, and for my detailed review!
“Remember, my dear, you do not really and truly exist.”
Made of dust and bone and imagination, Irréelle fears she’s not quite real. Only the finest magical thread tethers her to life—and to Miss Vesper. But for all her efforts to please her cruel creator, the thread is unraveling. Irréelle is forgetful as she gathers bone dust. She is slow returning from the dark passages beneath the cemetery. Worst of all, she is unmindful of her crooked bones.
When Irréelle makes one final, unforgivable mistake by destroying a frightful creature just brought to life, Miss Vesper threatens to imagine her away once and for all. Defying her creator for the very first time, Irréelle flees to the underside of the graveyard and embarks on an adventure to unearth the mysterious magic that breathes bones to life, even if it means she will return to dust and be no more.
With echoes of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, debut author Heather Kassner crafts a gorgeously written story humming with magic, mystery, and dark imaginings.
The Bone Garden is the perfect book for the build-up to Halloween! It’s very dark and spooky, even though it is a middle grade story!
Irréelle is a very special character. She lives with Miss Vesper – the only companion she has ever known and whom she loves very much. However, that love is not returned. Miss Vesper uses Iréelle for her dark actions, and sends the girl to collect bonedust from skeletons in their graves. Every night, Iréelle has to go down into a very dark tunnel and collect bonedust from the exact bone Miss Vesper tells her to. Dutiful as she is, she goes out of her way to please Miss Vesper, fighting against her instinct and the urge to run the opposite direction whenever she is made to enter the tunnel.
Miss Vesper is a dark and scary character. She takes every opportunity to let Iréelle know that she exists only because of her – that she is only made from bone dust and her imagination. That is also why Iréelle is linked to Miss Vesper by a small thread of magic. Miss Vesper also keeps telling Iréelle that she is ugly and misshapen – that she needs to stay out of the sight of other children. That makes Iréelle a very lonely little girl.
Even though Iréelle loves Miss Vesper and wants to please her at all times, Iréelle’s clumsiness sets her creator off. One day, it even pushes her over the edge, and Miss Vesper threatens to destroy Iréelle. After all, she created her – so she can unmake her too. On her flight, Iréelle stumbles across another like herself, and finds an impossible friend. She comes across secrets she would never have guessed Miss Vesper has kept from her, and realises some very hard truths.
However, many mysteries remain. Is the hand that is following the two new friends a spy for Miss Vesper, or is it on their side? Will they stay out of the scary guard’s sight, who is on their trail between the gravestones and tombs? And most of all, will they solve the mystery surrounding the unmarked grave that Miss Vesper is after?
What a ride this was! This Gothic seeming middle grade not only created a deep sense of the macabre and scary, it also explored the meaning of identity, the importance of friendship, the pain of unrequited love, the sadness a loved one feels after being left behind, and what it feels like to be different. To all those people saying books for children cannot be deep, you are very, very wrong. Just look at The Bone Garden!
The lyrical writing, the atmospheric setting in the catacombs under the graveyard and also in it, between the gravestones, the marked and unmarked graves, in Miss Vesper’s mansion and her Bone Garden, as well as the imaginative and distinct characters (just think of a walking hand as a proper character of its own!) made this novel so very special.
It is filled with every bit of spooky and frightful that you could imagine. From Miss Vesper (who doesn’t even need to carry out any evil deeds in order to come across as evil – simply her whole persona is enough), to the setting in the catacombs and on the graveyard, to the extracting of bonedust from actual skeletons in their coffins, this dark story might not be suitable for very young or easily scared children, but it will definitely entertain the older and more adventurous readers who love a good book with some dark magic and Gothic charm.
I loved that all the children in this story are imperfect, and yet they are so powerful, so strong and supportive of each other. I also loved seeing Iréelle’s development throughout the story. The dutiful and easily scared girl who didn’t believe in herself at all learned how to trust in herself first and foremost by stepping out of her creator’s shadows. By meeting others like her, others who like her for who she is, Iréelle not only learns the meaning of friendship, but also the importance of trusting herself and those who are worthy of trust.
On top of that, Iréelle also learned that being different – in whatever way – is not bad. On the contrary. It makes you unique – and that is a wonderful thing. I can only recommend this book – if you like dark settings, magic, unique characters that undergo great transformations, The Bone Garden is the book for you.
4.5 stars from me!
Thank you all so much for reading!
P.S. For anyone who has already read it: Did the hand make you think of the Addams family also??
Oh and also! I buddy read this with my lovely friend Sabrina! Do check out her blog here and say hi!