Book Review: The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

Format: E-Book

Pages: 320 pages

Publisher: Kensington Books

Published: June 30, 2015

Genre: Mystery & Thriller

Synopsis (from publisher):

“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.When Kate receives a phone call with news that Rosie Anderson is missing, she’s stunned and disturbed. Rosie is eighteen, the same age as Kate’s daughter, and a beautiful, quiet, and kind young woman. Though the locals are optimistic—girls like Rosie don’t get into real trouble—Kate’s sense of foreboding is confirmed when Rosie is found fatally beaten and stabbed.Who would kill the perfect daughter, from the perfect family? Yet the more Kate entwined herself with the Andersons—graceful mother Jo, renowned journalist father Neal, watchful younger sister Delphine—the more she is convinced that not everything is as it seems. Anonymous notes arrive, urging Kate to unravel the tangled threads of Rosie’s life and death, though she has no idea where they will lead.Weaving flashbacks from Rosie’s perspective into a faulty plotted narrative, The Bones of You is a gripping, haunting novel of sacrifices and lies, desperation and love.”

Looks can be deceiving.
That is an underlining theme in most mystery novels but is very prevalent in Howells’ latest thriller novel. One murder rocks an idyllic English town and this traumatic event causes the unmasking of what you thought were your neighbors.This is not your basic “whodunnit” mystery novel. This novel mostly deals with the dark recesses of the human mind. It is a book that focuses more on the characters and the complexity of their relationships with one another. The lacking of police procedure or any other elements of a crime novel may have been the missing element this novel needed but central focus on the human psyche gives you that human emotion that is lacking in most mystery novels.You are unlikely to see and twists and turns in this narrative. Facts sneak up on you and finally shocks when all is revealed. So it has the makings of a mystery novel, but it is clouded, in my opinion, by being a in-depth fiction thriller.


The narrative is told in two perspectives: Kate, a naive but kind, helpful neighbor, and Rosie, the victim. A lit bit like The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, Rosie’s perspective from the afterlife gives the reader a rare glimpse into her life, her past, her present, and the events leading towards her death. Her insights were not just recollections, but also clues, leading towards her killer. Rosie’s words are hard to take in. While unmasking the facade of the happy family, she reveals sad, distressing details that both disturbs you and pulls you into more of the story.

The author’s poetic language makes for beautiful and descriptive storytelling. Don’t get me wrong, I love poetic writing in my novels. But I felt for a psychological thriller, it is just appeared to be out-of-place to me. And it didn’t help with the pace of the book. The book in its entirety was steady but had a slow pace entwined in there. Due to this, it did take me awhile to really dive into it. I was almost going to give it a three star rating until halfway through the book, the storyline started to get interesting and “being engrossed until the very last page” feeling returned. The ending, although touching and beautifully done, I did feel that there were some questions left unanswered and felt a little incomplete to me. I can understand why the author didn’t want this thriller to be burdened with forensics and police procedure but maybe if there was a smidge of these elements, the accusations that were flying around would appear more believable.

If you are looking for a thriller heavy with police and forensic talk, this book is not for you. But if you are looking for that rare mystery that takes a journey into the human mind, you might joy enjoy this book. Keep in mind it touches on touchy and disturbing aspects so beware if you are a sensitive reader. I was shocked when I found out the identity of the killer but also disturbed when I discovered the killer’s motives. But it goes to show you:

You truly never know what is in a person’s mind.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Note: I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

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