Swine Hill was full of the dead. Their ghosts were thickest near the abandoned downtown, where so many of the town’s hopes had died generation by generation. They lingered in the places that mattered to them, and people avoided those streets, locked those doors, stopped going into those rooms… They could hurt you. Worse, they could change you.
Jane is haunted. Since she was a child, she has carried a ghost girl that feeds on the secrets and fears of everyone around her, whispering to Jane what they are thinking and feeling, even when she doesn’t want to know. Henry, Jane’s brother, is ridden by a genius ghost that forces him to build strange and dangerous machines. Their mother is possessed by a lonely spirit that burns anyone she touches. In Swine Hill, a place of defeat and depletion, there are more dead than living.
When new arrivals begin scoring precious jobs at the last factory in town, both the living and the dead are furious. This insult on the end of a long economic decline sparks a conflagration. Buffeted by rage on all sides, Jane must find a way to save her haunted family and escape the town before it kills them.
Title: Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones | Author: Micah Dean Hicks | Pub. Date: 2019-Feb-5 | Publisher: John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | Pages: 304 | ISBN13: 9781328566454 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Library
Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones Review
Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones is an undeniably gorgeous book. I was hooked pretty much immediately and basically did everything in my power to make sure I was able to finish it in one reading. (It being Mother’s Day had it’s advantages for once!) I was deeply enamored with Swine Hill, and the downward spiral of this little town as it struggled to survive.
Micah Dean Hicks does a great job with atmosphere. The hopelessness and despair that hangs over Swine Hill is so thick and rich it feels like you could bottle it (and maybe force-feed it to the perpetually cheery morning people who insist on bothering you before you’ve had your first bit of caffeine for the day).
The characters are great as well. Each one of them, even if you don’t see much of them, is a character you almost instantly care for. Sometimes you want to scream and shout at them. Sometimes you want to slap the self-pity out of them.
As for the ghosts? Every place has its ghosts. Every person has their ghosts. In Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones they’re just more obvious and a bit more dangerous. But, in reality, they’re just an outside reason for people to be as broken on the outside as they are on the inside.
This book is not what I wanted after I read the synopsis. I expected something with a bit more oomph. However, Hicks made me like it even if it didn’t come close to meeting my expectations, and there’s definitely something to be said for that.
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Lilyn G is the founder of Sci-Fi & Scary, and leader of the Coolthulhu Crew. She does book and film reviews for both genres the site focuses on. Her tastes run towards creature features, hard science fiction, and lots and lots of action. She also has a soft spot for middle-grade fiction that rears its head frequently.
Though no longer involved with Ladies of Horror Fiction due to other responsibilities and a too-full plate, she was one of the original 4 co-founders.
Feel free to chat her up on Twitter as long as you aren’t hitting her up to review your book.