The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

A review of the psychological crime thriller The Bones of You by Debbie Howells.

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This is a story of a young girl’s murder. At the start of the book the reader discovers that a young teenage girl has disappeared. The first short chapter is from her – Rosie’s – perspective. In the second chapter we are introduced to the main narrator of the story – Kate – a friend of the family, who has a teenage daughter herself. She also knows the girl who has disappeared due to a shared love of horses. The book covers her awakening to the difficulties faced by those around her, whilst investigating Rosie’s murder.

Although the first chapter did pique my interest, that didn’t last long. The story progresses at a snail’s pace; a necessary evil to develop the characters. However, when there is no character advancement or plot development I quickly got bored. I quite liked the parts narrated by the murdered girl as they did give a little insight. Introducing extra narrators only seemed to slow the plot more.

As well as the sluggish pace, this book didn’t quite know the genre it was. The author included different elements from different genres not really doing any of them justice. It was marketed as a ‘psychological thriller about the dark side of suburban England.’ It even includes a random supernatural aspect in one chapter.

There is the unnecessary death of an animal, seemingly only added to try and elicit some emotional reaction or shock value. It did neither. I’m not sure whether the author was trying to make some sort of comment on society; bringing up bulimia, pornography, infidelity and domestic abuse in the way that the main character does. Her naivety and shock that these subjects even exist in the world is as implausible as it is unrealistic. I cannot believe that in today’s social media overload there is anyone who cannot see bad things happen to good people. They just get on with it.

The author is a florist by trade and there are a multitude of references to flowers and gardening.

As I busy myself with new clients’ gardens, finding peace as I always do in the music of the seasons. The drone of insects and harmonies of the birds pitched against the backdrop of the wind. Perfect fleeting moments.

Yes, flowers are pretty and some of them smell pleasant, but the entire book is full of flowery language and everything is just a bit too nice.

I don’t know if it was because nothing much really happens in the plot that the shock reveal at the end was telegraphed from about halfway through the book.

I didn’t enjoy this book. It has been compared by other readers to The Lovely Bones. Although a similar subject matter, The Lovely Bones is by far the superior. There is nothing actually offensive about The Bones of You, but it just doesn’t deliver what it promises. It seemed like the book was trying to do all the things that it possibly could do, without rhyme or reason, and this only seemed to hurt what started out as something with some promise.

Cassidy grew up in Thanet and lives here with her family.

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