A House with Good Bones by T. Kingfisher
Sam Montgomery is worried about her mother. She seems anxious, jumpy, and she’s begun making mystifying changes to the family home on Lammergeier Lane. Sam figures it has something to do with her mother’s relationship to Sam’s late, unlamented grandmother.
She’s not wrong.
As vultures gather around the house and frightful family secrets are unearthed under the rosebushes, Sam struggles to unravel the truth about the house on Lammergeier Lane before it consumes her and everyone else who stands in its way…
TITLE: A House with Good Bones
AUTHOR: T. Kingfisher with Mary Robinette Kowal (Narrator)
PUBLISHER: Macmillan Audio
LENGTH: 256 pages (6 hours 52 minutes)
Queer Rep Summary: No canon queer rep.
In A HOUSE WITH GOOD BONES, Sam is visiting her mother in the home they once shared with her now-deceased grandmother. However, most of the ways Sam's mother had decorated to make the place her own have been undone, and she doesn’t seem to understand or acknowledge why this would be disturbing. Little things start to add up, eventually going beyond what’s merely bizarre - transforming into something downright creepy.
Because as a reader this is my introduction to Sam’s mother, it’s harder to immediately know how she ought to be acting, but Sam’s thoughts provide that context in a way that feels natural. It feels like Sam working through it in her own mind, and not just for the benefit of me as a spectator. This is one of those cases where the things that I like best about the book are the ways that my understanding of of what's going on suddenly shifted as new information became available. It's short enough that to discuss most of what I loved in the latter half of the book would spoil many of the best parts of the experience. In general, I like the way that this played with my expectations of what a horror novel could or should be. There were several layers of revelations that didn't really feel like plot twists, as much as they involved realizing the meaning of information that had been said previously, but was transformed by new events.
I love the ending, that ramps up the pace and the stakes to be suddenly exciting just as everything looked like it was going to wrap up more calmly.
Graphic/Explicit CW for gaslighting, emotional abuse, toxic relationship, blood.
Moderate CW for racism, physical abuse, child abuse, fire/fire injury, injury detail, body horror, violence, self harm, parental death, death.
Minor CW for dementia, mental illness, alcohol, fatphobia, body shaming, vomit, cancer.