Written by: S.M. Parker
Published: August 22, 2017 by Simon Pulse
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Synopsis: Unearthing years of buried secrets, Rilla Brae is haunted by ghostly visions tied to the tainted history of a mysterious island in this haunting novel from the author of The Girl Who Fell.
Maine-bred, independent Rilla Brae is no stranger to the deep. She knows the rhythms of hard work and harder seas. But when she experiences the sudden death of her father, the veil between the living and the dead blurs and she begins to be haunted by a girl on a nearby, uninhabited island. The girl floats a song over the waves, and it is as beautiful as it is terrifying. Familiar and distant.
Then Rilla meets Sam, a University of Southern Maine archeology student tasked with excavating the very island where the ghostly girl has appeared. Sam sifts the earth looking for the cultural remains of an island people who were forcibly evicted by the state nearly a hundred years ago. Sam tells Rilla the island has a history no locals talk about—if they know about it at all—due to the shame the events brought to the working waterfront community. All Rilla knows for sure is that the island has always been there—an eerie presence anchored in the stormy sea. Now Sam’s work and the ghostly girl’s song lure Rilla to the island’s shores.
As Rilla helps Sam to unearth the island’s many secrets, Rilla’s visions grow—until the two discover a tragedy kept silent for years. And it’s a tragedy that has everything to do with Rilla’s past.
*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at ALA in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***
I was supper excited about this book. It's a total me book. It seemed like a totally interesting and atmospheric historical mystery. And while there were some good things about this book, it didn't quite live up to my hopes for this book.
One of the things that I did like about this book was the plot development and mystery. I was hoping for a book full of mystery, and that is really what I got. This is a book full of twists and turns as it slowly reveals what is going on and what happened in the past. I wouldn't say that it was completely surprising because the big reveal was kind of predicable but there was still a ton of drama and tension. There was also a ton of magic. It had a bit of magical realism vibe to it and I really appreciated that. It definitely captured my interest and built to an interesting conclusion.
I didn't however really enjoy the pacing of this book. It wasn't a very long book but it took me longer to read than I expected because throughout some of the book it really dragged. In the middle, it definitely dragged. I often read multpile books at once and I always know if I'm enjoying a book when I can't decide which book to read at any given point. But with this book I reached a point where I would much rather read the other book. In the end it did hook me again but it was a little hit or miss throughout the book.
I did however really liked the setting of this book. This is a book set in a small town of Maine and I really do feel that the town came alive in this book. I feel like I could hear the waves, and see the ships bobbing off the shore. It definitely made me miss New England and the ocean breezes and small town feel it can sometimes have. I don't know how accurate the fishing and lobstering stuff was but I do feel like we got the barest taste of what life is like for these fishermen and woman. It made for a unique setting and I really appreciated that.
But this was a historical mystery so I have to take a moment to talk about the history and how that affecting the setting of the book. But it's really hard to talk about that aspect because it just sort of felt like a means to an end. I like my historical fiction to be grounded in a specific time and place and I don't feel like this book did that. It explored a historical time period and how the people of that period were treated but it just felt kind of generic to me. It also felt a little heavy handed. Like it was trying a little hard to explore themes of humanity and how people are treated. And because of that I found myself more resistant to it's messages that I would be if it had been a little more subtle.
As far as the characters go, they were okay. They weren't super memorable but they weren't bad either. I liked the main character of Rilla well enough. I appreciated that she had a lot of vulnerability to her. It was easy to connect with her and her and her unsureity. Who hasn't been torn between wanting to move on from somewhere and feeling so connected to the people and place that you're scared and sad about leaving. But I feel like she was one of the only characters who had some depth to them. Most of the other characters just fell a little flat for me.
On the whole, The Rattles Bones was an okay read. It had an engaging plot despite a slightly muddled pacing, and a unique and descriptive setting. I just wish the historical setting felt more grounded, the themes were less heavy-handed, and the characters felt more complex.
I give The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker 7.5 out of 10 stars
Have you read The Rattled Bones? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!