She brushes the thought away as she climbs the front steps. Sam's excited for this rare extended visit, and looking forward to nights with just the two of them, drinking boxed wine, watching murder mystery shows, and guessing who the killer is long before the characters figure it out.
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. And when Sam steps out back to clear her head, she finds a jar of teeth hidden beneath the magazine-worthy rose bushes, and vultures are circling the garden from above.
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."
I just love T. Kingfisher, I really do.
There is something very special about T. Kingfisher's brand of horror, and A House with Good Bones captures that quality extremely well. A House with Good Bones contains fairly ordinary people in ordinary settings where nothing exceptionally outlandish happens–at first–and a slow creep of dread slowly settles in, but you are almost always caught off guard by it because of how well the story is able to incorporate humor and endearing characters that make it impossible to put the book down.
This is very classic T. Kingfisher horror and so for me that means it's brilliant and I'm going to love it. If you have read and enjoyed any of T. Kingfisher's other horror books (or even non-horror ones), then you will definitely want to check this one out as well because it is very much written in the same style and with all the trademark humor, creepiness, and intelligence as her previous books.
In A House with Good Bones, we follow Sam Montgomery as she makes her way back home during some time off from work to check in on her mom after her brothers calls and tells her that their mom seems to be acting a little... "off." Sam arrives home in North Carolina and soon realizes that things with her mom are, indeed, a bit odd. Things in the house also seem to be just a little bit odd, and Sam can't figure out why her mom seems to be acting a lot like her Gran Mae used to act–especially since neither her mother nor Sam herself particularly liked Gran Mae.
T. Kingfisher is an absolute master at creating the most creeping, slow burn horror. I remember when I first read The Hollow Places by Kingfisher, the first book of hers that I read, and I was so immersed and blown away by how unbelievably unnerving and creepy the story was and how her writing was able to make me feel so incredibly uneasy, and that is the case in A House with Good Bones as well. There's not all that much in the way of action in the first portion of the book, but there is still so much that happens with regard to the weirdness of Sam's mother's actions and the house itself. Not to mention the fact that there is a weird amount of wild vultures in the neighborhood that seem particularly interested in Gran Mae's house, which also lays out a perfect atmosphere for this eerie story.
Sam is an incredible protagonist, and her humor and deadpan narrative delivery remind me a lot of the protagonists in The Hollow Places and The Twisted Ones. She is an entomologist living in Arizona, but often travels for various archaeological digs, and her entomologist expertise definitely comes in handy in this book in some very surprising ways, but also in ways that I found very interesting. I love when characters are specific experts in a topic and I get to learn a little bit secondhand from their narrative, which happens quite a bit here–but I promise it's all interesting and not at all dry. Sam is the perfect horror companion because she's very rational and always looking for a reasonable explanation for things, especially since she is scientifically-minded, as well as because of her ability to have a very dry-witted remark for just about everything. I laughed as much as I felt creeped out in this book, and that is my favorite type of story because I love humor and being entertained, but I also love getting creeped out by things. I felt like I was friends with Sam in this book, and that made for an even more enjoyable experience.
I can't tell you anything that happens because it absolutely needs to be a surprise, so just know that as you form theories and opinions about what's happening, you are probably somewhat on the right track... but also a little wrong and there will be big surprises to keep things interesting. I genuinely could not put this book down. In a time when I've been struggling to get through a single book in any short amount of time, I read this book so quickly and so easily that it helped remind me why I love reading so much. Although there is a lot more I could potentially say about this book, I'm going to stop here and keep things relatively brief because I'm not sure what else I could say that wouldn't just be outright overenthusiastic gushing about it, and at this point I think my point has been made.
Overall, it's another five stars from me for A House with Good Bones. This was brilliant, entertaining, timely, and has so much to love about it. I cannot recommend A House with Good Bones (or any T. Kingfisher book, really) enough.