cover image Every Bone a Prayer

Every Bone a Prayer

Ashley Blooms. Sourcebooks, $16.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-7282-1621-8

Blooms’s haunting and magical debut follows 10-year-old Misty and her family and neighbors through a summer of trauma in her Appalachian holler. Misty’s favorite companions are crawdads, who speak to her and her friend and neighbor William, a boy her age with whom she explores a barn owned by their landlord, Earl, who is rumored to have killed his wife. Misty is contacted by a strange voice she calls “the garden,” which tells her more about Earl’s crimes. Then, one night, William takes Misty to the barn and sexually assaults her. Misty’s sadness over William’s betrayal is unbearable to her, and she learns how to slip out of her skin. When she returns to her body, she’s accompanied by the “persistent ache of being born.” As Misty explores her relationship to her body and tries to get past her pain, she open herself to the voices around her and learns more about the fate of Earl’s wife. Blooms succeeds in building an enchanted world and teasing out the truth of what happened in Misty’s holler, as seen through an evocative child’s point of view. Blooms’s powerful tale makes for visceral, sometimes uncomfortable reading, and it’s well worth it. Agent: Alexandra Levick, Writers House. (Aug.)