Sunday, March 13, 2011

Review: By These Ten Bones

Synopsis: A mysterious young man has come to a small Highland town. His talent for wood carving soon wins the admiration of the weaver's daughter, Maddie. Fascinated by the silent carver, she sets out to gain his trust, only to find herself drawn into a terrifying secret that threatens everything she loves. There is an evil presence in the carver's life that cannot be controlled, and Maddie watches her town fall under a shadow. One by one, people begin to die. Caught in the middle, Maddie must decide what matters most to her-and what price she is willing to pay to keep it.

My Review: When I first saw this book I was pulled in by the cover.  It was so dark and the way the woman’s head is thrown back in ecstasy was just gripping.  I immediately picked it up, read the synopsis, decided I HAD to have it, and promptly bought it.  I am so glad I did.  It has to be the best paranormal related book I have read since Sunshine by Robin McKinley.  I immediately fell in love.  I’d even go as far as to say that this is my favorite werewolf book, hands down.  

This book was rich with historical content.  From what I gathered this either takes place in Ireland or Scotland.  The disdain towards Englishmen and reference to “the continent” leads me to think this takes place somewhere in the British Isles.  The author didn’t spell it out, rather she let us envision our own primitive world where monsters stalk the night. Dunkle weaves a world full of evil spirits and old superstitions that will leave you afraid of the dark.  The author does a fantastic job of making you feel like you’ve been transported back in time.  The practices of the villagers, their lives, their beliefs, was all wonderfully written and full of true understanding.  She didn’t just decide to set her story back in post Anglo-Saxon England.  You can tell that a lot of research and true knowledge went into writing this book.  I loved the book all the more for it.  

Maddie is the daughter of the village weaver.  She lives a simple life and is content with it.  When Travelers come to her village she is immediately drawn to the silent forlorn young man who accompanies them.  An extremely talented carver, the young man and his companion sell his wares to the villagers.  He speaks to no one and is content to carve his pieces in solitude.  However, Maddie can’t help be fascinated by his brilliant green eyes.  When his drunken companion gets himself locked up and forced to help bring in the villages harvest, he finds himself with no where else to go.  On the night of the full moon Maddie hears a creature outside her door.  In the morning the young carver is found by the loch, mauled by a great beast.  Maddie’s family takes him in and helps him recover.  He gradually starts to open up and talk to Maddie.  But the boy has his own secrets he is unwilling to tell.  The boy with no name is afraid to make friends, to share his past, and to fall in love.  A great fear haunts him that he will hurt the ones he cares for, and the looming threat of the full moon doesn’t go away.  

This story was truly beautifully told.  The growing bond between Maddie and Carver (as the villagers come to call him) was wonderfully done.  Their relationship is built on trust, not lust.  They confide in each other, and Maddie is there for Carver when no one else is.  Her loyalty and her determination to stay by Carver, no matter what happens and what he turns into, is truly inspiring.  They truly love each other and Carver is determined to keep her safe from harm, even if that means keeping her away from him.  Maddie is willing to sacrifice everything for Carver in order to keep her village safe and give Carver a life free from fear.  What was really surprising for me was that they didn’t even have a physical relationship.  Nothing happened beyond holding hands.  That just made it all the more perfect in my eyes.  Of course I wanted SOMETHING to happen, but in the end it was fine without.  The two of them don’t need to share an intimate relationship to show that they’d do anything for each other.  

Maddie’s complete willingness to face evil itself in order to save the man she loves truly sets her apart from other heroines.  Other YA werewolf books simply don’t compare.  The depth of true love, and the true horror of the beast that Carver turns into is nothing like the watered down version of werewolves that is rampant throughout most novels these days.  Werewolves are terrifying beasts that will kill anything in their path and tear them apart limb from limb.  I loved the more classic take on werewolves.  It was reminiscent of The Wolfman and An American Werewolf in London.  You just can’t beat the classics.  

If you couldn’t tell, I absolutely loved this book.  I can’t even fully express how awesome it was.  In comparison to other YA werewolf books out there, By These Ten Bones blows them all out of the water.  It was fabulous, plain and simple.  It might not be to some peoples tastes.  If you’re looking for a wild paranormal romance, you’re not going to get it.  However, if you’re looking for a story with both true love and a terrifying portrayal of what goes bump in the night you’ll definitely get it.  Loved it. 


Kat said...

I read this book about a year ago, before this beautiful new edition was released. I loved it as well-- it's such a unique book, and so beautifully written. Great review. :)