Book Review: The Bone Garden by Heather Kassner (ARC)

I am done with you. I will cut the tether. I will burn your bones. You will be no more. – Miss Vesper

The Bone Garden

Author: Heather Kassner (Illustrated by Matt Saunders)

Publication Date: 06 Aug 2019

Genre: Middle Grade

Pages: 272

Publisher: Henry Holt


“Remember, my dear, you do not really and truly exist.”

Irréelle fears she’s not quite real. Only the finest magical thread tethers her to life―and to Miss Vesper. But for all her efforts to please her cruel creator, the thread is unraveling. Irréelle is forgetful as she gathers bone dust. She is slow returning from the dark passages beneath the cemetery. Worst of all, she is unmindful of her crooked bones.

When Irréelle makes one final, unforgivable mistake by destroying a frightful creature just brought to life, Miss Vesper threatens to imagine her away once and for all. Defying her creator for the very first time, Irréelle flees to the underside of the graveyard and embarks on an adventure to unearth the mysterious magic that breathes bones to life, even if it means she will return to dust and be no more.

My Thoughts:

Do not be fooled by the middle grade genre, this beautifully dark story is chocked full of horror, despair, adventure, and hope.

The story begins with Irréelle raiding coffins to gather more bone dust for Miss Vesper. Miss Vesper is Irréelle’s creator, and she makes some of the vilest villains seem like a walk in the park. She is unbelievably cruel, constantly reminding Irréelle that she is not real and can be returned to the bone dust from which she came at a moment’s notice. My heart broke for poor Irréelle because all she ever wanted was to please Miss Vesper and be real. Cue the tears (Again, don’t let middle grade fool you! This book has all the feels!)

Irréelle disrupts Miss Vesper after she has created yet another horrifying monster, a hand that attacks Irréelle. Naturally, Irréelle tries to crush the hand (think Thing from the Adams Family), which sends Miss Vesper into a blind rage. Miss Vesper drags Irréelle to be burned back into bone dust, but Irréelle manages to escape.

After Irréelle’s escape, her adventurous life truly begins. She meets Guy and eventually Lass. She discovers that she is no longer alone even if she aches to feel truly human. At this point, I fell in love with watching Irréelle develop as a character. We watch her progress from being a victim of Stockholm Syndrome to putting her fears aside to protect her friends at all cost. Irréelle and her friends set out to uncover the dark truths of Miss Vesper in order to be truly free from this vile being. Along the way these three realize that even though they were little monsters created from bone dust and dark magic, humanity arises through the love that is forged through friendships.

Overall, this story was a fantastic read. You’ll be rooting for Irréelle as she escapes a life of pain and servitude to a life of love and belonging and ultimately, human.

Rating: 5 stars

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