Friday, August 4, 2023

Review: A House With Good Bones by T. Kingfisher

by T. Kingfisher
Release Date: March 28, 2023
2023 Nightfire
Kindle Edition; 247 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250829795
Audiobook: B0B64HH4YG
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / Gothic
Source: Review copy from publisher

2.75 / 5

"Mom seems off."
Sam brushes the thought away as she climbs the front steps to her mother's house, excited for this rare extended visit, and looking forward to nights with just the two of them. 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. 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.
My Thoughts
A House With Good Bones should have been an eerie as it had all the makings of a scary story, but in reality, it was a slow burn for the first eighty percent of the book and most of the action actually takes place in the last quarter.  I did enjoy the archaeological details as Sam is a forensic entomologist and it's not too often you get information regarding that profession (coming from a person who played with bugs as a kid and even scared her mom rather badly by putting them in her pockets regularly). This fascinating career doesn't make up for a rather slow plot as well as a major lack of character development.

Sam was meant to have a lot of sass, but most of it went overboard due to the descriptions of her sitting on her couch, eating, drinking, and binge-watching tv.  With all of that, we get numerous descriptions of her inner thoughts as she tries to figure out what is in front of her and while at first I thought her self-mockery was amusing, it actually got old pretty fast simply because it never changed or developed.  As far as protagonists go, she wasn't very memorable and I think she was a large reason why the tension didn't really have a chance to build up.

The plot was definitely on the slow side, with most of the action occurring in the last quarter of the book.  I did enjoy some of the history that was mentioned in the book, but it didn't compensate for the eye-rolling and the somewhat absurd story line.  The author's trademark wit didn't really work in this story and I didn't really mind the slow start to the story; it was the time spent in Sam's head that was annoying as it didn't really add anything to the plot.  Slow burns can be fine as they an ratchet tension up to an insane level, leaving you on the edge of your seat throughout, but this did not happen.  The eerie moments were few and far between, and the tension was broken up by nonsensical things that drew you out of the story.  

A House with Good Bones did not really deliver although it certainly had all the elements it needed to be spooky.  I think more interactions with mom would have helped the story; the mysteriousness of everything didn't really help as nothing was explored or developed which didn't up the tension level. For those who want something spooky or scary, that didn't happen.  It's a shame as this book definitely had an interesting premise, but didn't live up to its promise.  I am a huge fan of this author however, and will continue to check out her work.  For those of you who have never read anything by her, I recommend starting with The Hollow Places