A House With Good Bones by T. Kingfisher – ARC Review!

“Mom seems off.”

Her brother’s words echo in Sam Montgomery’s ear as she turns onto the quiet North Carolina street where their mother lives alone.

She brushes the thought away as she climbs the front steps. Sam’s excited for this rare extended visit, and looking forward to nights with just the two of them, drinking boxed wine, watching murder mystery shows, and guessing who the killer is long before the characters figure it out.

But stepping inside, she quickly realizes home isn’t what it used to be. Gone is the warm, cluttered charm her mom is known for; now the walls are painted a sterile white. Her mom jumps at the smallest noises and looks over her shoulder even when she’s the only person in the room. And when Sam steps out back to clear her head, she finds a jar of teeth hidden beneath the magazine-worthy rose bushes, and vultures are circling the garden from above.

To find out what’s got her mom so frightened in her own home, Sam will go digging for the truth. But some secrets are better left buried.

Leah and I have certainly started off 2023 on a high with our first buddy read! A House With Good Bones was seriously creepy but with Kingfishers usual witty and sarcastic humour thrown in to ensure we never got too scared. Make sure you check out Leah’s brilliant review here!

Sam Montgomery never thought she would find herself back in her Grandmothers house, but after her most recent dig was postponed and a worrying call from her brother, she see’s it as the perfect time to check in on her mum, and as soon as she see’s her, she know’s something is wrong. Sam’s mum has lost weight and seems overly protective and jumpy, and add that to the decorative changes to the house and Sam is definitely worried. The more time Sam spends in the house, the more she realises there is something wrong, Vultures seem to circle it and finding a jar of teeth buried in the back garden certainly doesn’t seem normal. To find out what’s going on, Sam will have to go digging into her families past, learning their secrets. But with secrets come’s danger, and these are secrets that are certainly better left buried.

I loved this book, so bloody much, and that was large in part to Sam, our MC. She’s a character I couldn’t help but bond with pretty much instantly. Her wit, scientific mind and hopelessness when it comes to the opposite sex make for a character that is easy to empathise with, and I loved all the little bits of introspection we got, whether these were to do with her uncovering the mystery of the house, or little insights we get from her about bugs thanks to her being an archaeoentomologist, someone who studies ancient bugs. She is described as fat, but has such a healthy relationship with her body, as well as her family… well most of them anyway, and I loved all of her interactions with her mother, as well as the other characters we meet along the way.

Kingfisher keeps our side cast tight knit, but that benefits us because we get a good insight into all of the characters, and they all play a part in the story some way. From Sam’s mum who has gone from being vibrant to a shell of the woman she was before, Gail, the woman Sam’s Grandma used to religiously call a witch, Mr Presley the nosy, curtain twitching neighbour who has an unhealthy relationship with the government and Sam, Mr Presley’s grandson and Sam’s mum’s gardener/handyman. They all add to the tension, drama and sometimes the hilarity of the story, and were all brilliantly brought to life.

If I had to use one word to describe this book it would be creepy, and that was a word that Leah and I threw around our discussion because it wasn’t outright horror, there were no jumpy scary scenes, and even the ones filled with tension, and there were plenty, were almost watered down thanks to Kingfisher throwing in her standard dark, witty and sarcastic humour. I can’t tell you how many times this book made me chuckle, even at the peak creepy moments, and this meant that I enjoyed it more because I never felt overly scared at any point. The story builds slowly, there is a lot of introspection and Sam trying to work out what the hell is happening, but you know that something is going to happen, you just don’t know when, and when it does the story takes off at a break neck pace and I was glued to the pages.

The story almost starts off as your standard haunted house, with unexplained noises & items moving around the house, but it swiftly transforms into sometime much much creepier, and it’s only through Sam’s delving into her family’s past that we start to see the pieces come together. Leah and I both had a few theories as to where the story was going and we were so close, but Kingfisher managed to throw a few twists in there to keep us on our toes. We spend a lot of time building up to the big reveal, but Kingfishers writing style brings a heightened level of tension to the story that keeps you in it’s grips, so between that and the random bug and vulture facts that were thrown in ( I love a book where I learn something) this was a story I seriously struggled to put down.

Leah described this as a cosy horror and she really nails it on the head (has she created a new sub-genre, who knows?), it’s creepy without being overly scary, humorous even at the darkest times and filled with brilliantly written characters. I already loved Kingfishers writing, but after loving this so much I will definitely be checking out her horror backlog as well as all the fantasy’s I already have on my TBR.

19 replies »

  1. Becky! You absolutely nailed this review, and how we felt while buddy reading this. We absolutely started this year on a high note, and I have no idea how any books are going to live up to this one. Kingfisher’s humor was amazing throughout this book, and definitely took the edge off the tension, so cozy horror just felt like the best way to describe this genre. And I couldn’t help but love all of the side characters – even Mr. Pressley and his concerns about THE GOVERNMENT! THE AMISH! hahahahaha Can’t wait until our next buddy read, and we’ll definitely have to check in about any more Kingfisher books we read.

    Liked by 1 person

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