Teen Reader Recommends: House of Ash and Bone

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House of Ash and Bone by Joel Sutherland

A 17 year old girl with powers she doesn’t fully understand and her family moves into a mysterious house in the middle of the woods. Its inhabitant? A ghost with a taste for mortal flesh and dreams of immortality. As Josephine unearths the secrets of her new home, she must also figure out her unwanted roommate’s malicious plans before time runs out for her and her family.

House of Ash and Bone is author Joel Sutherland’s first young adult novel. His other books, Summer’s End, Screamers, and the Haunted Canada series, are mostly for middle schoolers. As someone who has read Screamers, Sutherland definitely kicks the horror up a notch in this book. It is definitely more gory (some of the more gruesome scenes had me cringing away) and the plot is a little bit more complicated. However, that does not take away from the very well written plot and the ingenious twists, especially at the end! Using Hansel and Gretel as the inspiration but making it infinitely more creepy was a lovely touch as someone who really enjoys the original Grimm versions of fairy tales. 

One of the hallmarks of the book (especially near the beginning) is missing memories and warped timelines. It can make the book a little confusing to follow at first, but it ended up making for a really enthralling plot point as I was mentally screaming for the characters to wake up. The characters besides Josephine aren’t super fleshed out, but that might be because there was so much going on in the battle between Josephine and Dorcas (the ghost). Also, the aforementioned memory issue, so I might be able to let that slide this time. The writing is pretty simplistic and easy to understand and follow, which makes sense for a book where the plot line is so intense. All in all, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who is maybe interested in horror but who doesn’t want to be sleeping with the lights on all week, aka me.

— submitted by New Trier student Charlotte R.

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Krista Hutley
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