Title: The Rattled Bones
Author: S.M. Parker
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Star Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
I found The Rattled Bones the way I usually find my library books: a recommendation. It was pitched as a feminist mystery of the late summer, and its inspiration was a Stephen King short story. So I was on board, even before I saw the gorgeous, spooky cover. I wanted to love it, and I did love it, some of parts of it. But overall, I ended up with a lot of mixed feelings, thus the unusual rating. I loved the setting, the gorgeous prose, and the strange, bloody mystery that lies at its heart. And the ending--I loved it! It was very fitting, and now I'm dying for some more information on the real events that inspired the novel. But unfortunately, the controlling behavior of Rilla's boyfriend, Reed, and the treatment of mental illness in the book really made it ring false. I was hoping for more from this promising, creepy sophomore novel.
Rilla Brae is a lobsterman in a small town in Maine, and she is focused on carrying on her late father's legacy, despite the weight of grief keeping her close to home. Despite her desire to leave and make a new life for herself, she finds that she can't leave her Grams, her best friend, Hattie, and her boyfriend, Reed, whose behavior goes from gentle and loving to controlling and angry. Then she meets a boy named Sam, and her life changes forever as they dig deeper into Maine's past. They discover the many dark secrets that the island hides, and as Rilla becomes haunted (literally), she realizes that her own family may have been involved and that she may be losing her mind and sanity as well as her sense of self...
Ugh! I hate it when a book gives me all the mixed feelings! It makes reviewing so hard because it's fairly abstract. Like I said, there were some parts of the book that I really enjoyed. The prose was beautiful and hypnotic, I loved the feminist angle, the way that Rilla was determined to make her own way, even though it meant being torn between her family legacy, love, and what she wanted. And God knows I can't resist a good ghost story! I love gothic fiction and the way that Parker took the horror elements and mixed it in with Rilla's coming of age story. It wasn't a total loss; I loved the gorgeous, lush setting of Maine, and that ending! Shocking and true to life, and fully satisfying.
Unfortunately, I hated the way that mental illness was depicted and treated throughout the novel, especially as far as Rilla's mother was concerned. I really feel like it was badly handled, and honestly, it left a bad taste in my mouth, especially when it was continually brought up throughout the story. And Reed! Her boyfriend really got on my last nerve, as he was more concerned with keeping Rilla on the island than encouraging her to go for what she wanted. I really wanted to love this book, and I did like some aspects of it, but overall, it really fell short, and I was hoping for more. The bottom line: A creepy, beautifully written novel that had some parts I really enjoyed, The Rattled Bones draws inspiration from a Stephen King short story, and overall, it really missed the mark in some important areas. Next on deck: Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta!