Book Review: The Bones Of You by Debbie Howells

This is the first time I've done a review on the blog but as it concerns reading (one of my favourite things to do when Jack is in bed - other than stuff cake and wine into my face) I thought I'd give it a go. I love to read but often find myself too busy/too tired/too engrossed in rubbish TV to pick up books like I used to. I'm making a conscious effort to move away from That's Life magazine (which is, although wildly entertaining, not good for my soul) and actually start reading 'properly' again. If I manage it, book reviews might become a regular feature either here or over on Judging Covers where I used to contribute regularly in my pre-child life.

So this week I read The Bones Of You by Debbie Howells - a psychological crime thriller - and this is what I thought:

When eighteen year old Rosie Anderson goes missing and is later found murdered, her close knit, rural community is left reeling. Who would want to kill the perfect daughter of a perfect family like the Andersons? It's a question that Kate, a local mother with a daughter the same age as Rosie, finds herself asking over and over again. As Kate lends her support to the Andersons she is drawn into a web of secrets and lies surrounding the family's life. Can she find out the truth about what really happened to Rosie?

The story alternates from Kate's present perspective to flashbacks told by the now deceased Rosie as her life 'flashes before her eyes' in the same sort of other-worldly way as we saw in The Lovely Bones. Through Rosie's passages we learn a lot of history about the family, including her own upbringing and that of her mother Joanna - both abusive and equally painful to read about.

As far as psychological thrillers go, I found this one fairly slow paced. Events were presented gradually over the space of a year following Rosie's death. While this built tension well, I missed the spikes of unexpected drama that you usually associate with this genre. Similarly, the final reveal of the killer was, although disturbing, not surprising to me. Hints and context had been building up for some time in Rosie's sections of the book and although the motive behind the attack wasn't fully revealed until the end, I'd worked out who was guilty long before. And if I'm being honest, I missed that 'OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE IT WAS THEM' moment. 

Although I liked Kate (the archetypal 'earth mother' with her horses, gardening and solid sense of right and wrong...mostly) there were other characters that lacked depth for me. It seemed like her journalist friend Laura was written in purely as a mouthpiece to convey the developments in the murder investigation that the reader needed to know about. Likewise, what was Rachel for? Other than bumbling about, swearing a lot and being a cliche 'busy mummy' she didn't really do anything. Other characters were so vile that it actually made the book difficult to read in places. And did anyone miss a distinct lack of police presence in this so called high profile murder case?!

Still, it was undoubtedly a page turner and one I managed to finish in just a few days. The story was realistic, moving and chilling in equal measure - maybe because it makes you wonder just how much you can ever really know about anyone; the darkest secrets can be hiding within the most seemingly perfect families. It probably won't go down as one of my favourite books of all time but it's definitely worth a read.

Have you read The Bones Of You? What did you think?

Thanks to Mumsnet and Macmillan for sending me this book to review. 

See what other Mumsnet Bloggers thought here



  1. I've read mixed review on this book, the idea of it has me intrigued but like you I find books like ths need to be quite fast paced to really grip me. A fantastic, honest review. Thank you so much for linking up with #readwithme :)

  2. My comment almost echo's what Mamamummymum said lol x #ReadWithMe