The Bone Garden

Heather Kassner, illus. by Matt Saunders. Holt, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-29689-4
Formed from bone dust and imagination, Irréelle, 11, works in the tunnels beneath a cemetery for her cold creator, Miss Arden Vesper, to whom she is connected by a magical thread. All Irréelle wants is to be loved and cared for, but Miss Vesper refuses to mend Irréelle’s misaligned limbs, using bone dust, which Irréelle extracts from corpses, for her own longevity and “dark creations.” After Miss Vesper informs her that she can be easily dispatched, Irréelle escapes to the tunnels, where she finds and rescues her predecessor, Guy. Guided by disembodied Hand, they begin to unearth the truth about Miss Vesper and her quest for “an unmarked grave that is very clearly marked.” Up against dirt bats, the graveyard’s sadistic night watchman, and Miss Vesper herself, Irréelle, Guy, Hand, and Irréelle’s replacement, Lass, must disentangle the secrets of bone magic before Miss Vesper unmakes them all. Kassner’s uneven debut seems to be alluding to larger questions about abuse, ability, and self-acceptance, but these themes are left undeveloped, raising troubling, even disempowering messages. Still, the eldritch atmosphere and compelling mystery will likely draw fans of middle grade horror, and Saunders’s spooky black-and-white sketches bolster the tale. Ages 10–14. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/13/2019
Release date: 08/06/2019
Genre: Children's
Compact Disc - 978-1-250-21186-6
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