A House with Good Bones (Kingfisher)

A House with Good Bones
by T. Kingfisher (2023)

(Not a review, just some notes to help me remember the things I've read. But written this way because it's the Internet, and some people will stumble across this page.)

I would not have expected to have read another T. Kingfisher book so soon. The last one I read, What Moves the Dead was good, not necessarily great, nor something that screamed "read more" to me. However, I needed something to listen to on my phone while I was out walking. I went to Libby for ideas. I wanted a short, fantasy audiobook, preferrably under 8 hours. Many were much longer.

Anyway, "A House With Good Bones" appeared, and I gave it a shot. It sounded good enough that I borrowed the ebook, caught up to the audio, which then got left behind.

Instead of mushrooms, this book gives us ladybugs and roses and vultures and some old magic.

Samantha Montgomery is an archaeoentomologist, someone who studies insects and other arthropods recovered from archaeological sites, usually associated with human remains and middens (aka "dunghills"). Her site is shut down but her room has been sublet, so she has no place to go except to her mother's house (which belonged to her mother before her) in North Carolina, traveling across most of the country to get there. When she gets there, things are a little strange and her mother is behaving oddly. And there are weird things about the house.

Sam thinks her mother is started to develop dementia or something similar. She doesn't understand why the interior of the house was repainted ecrue or why there's a portrait of a Confederate wedding hanging in the hall.

And, more weird, there are no insects in the yard on the rose bushes. But there is a sudden infestation of lady bugs that she can't explain. And then there's the portrait that shows what clearly seems to be a child's hand coming out of the ground beneath one of the rose bushes.

Mom's not crazy, and grandma's not gone. Others on the lane know that there's something wrong with the house.

If I have a quibble, it's with the climax of the book, which takes all the action ... somewhere else. I'm not exactly sure where it was or how any of the vultures managed to find their way there. I understand that they didn't need realism at this particular point, but the book went to extraordinary lengths to make the creepy, unimaginable into real, believable things. This was a little disappointing and could've been closer to home, as it were.

One last side note: I have to say that "a house with good bones" isn't a common expression in the Northeast, USA. At least, I don't think it is. It's not one that I've heard. The only other reference I have is the song "The Bones" by Maren Morris, where she sings "the house won't fall when the bones are good", which made me wonder right from the start if the house was going to fall. (Oddly, I assumed that the song was talking about a personal relationship with two people, not the actual structure of their dwelling, allegorically speaking.)

This book was written before "What Moves the Dead" and contains a preview for it at the end of the book.

I enjoyed this, both in audio and ebook, although I abandoned the audio once I caught up reading.

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