Written by: Rebecca Alexander
Published by: Titan Books
Page count: 468
Reviewed by: Jalyn Powell
Rebecca Alexander is an experienced fantasy writer and lover of all things mystical and magical, which elevates her latest thriller-mystery novel, A Baby’s Bones, due out in May 2018. I’m divided on how I feel about this book. At a lengthy 468 pages, there were times I rolled my eyes when it felt like I was reading filler, but there were other times I couldn’t stop turning the pages. If you’re willing to get through the first third of the novel, I think there’s enough intrigue in the remaining 300+ to make it worth your while.
The novel is called A Baby’s Bones for a couple of reasons. A baby’s bones are discovered in an old well from the 1500’s, plus several characters are pregnant. Impending births from dalliances with taken men is pivotal to the plot, so buckle up! Who’s the father, who’s the stalker, and who’s the murderer? Alexander keeps you guessing the whole way through.
The mixture of forensic archaeological mystery (think: author Kathy Reichs), love triangles (past and present), and haunted houses (perhaps even demonic possession?) make for a many-layered thriller that I think most people would ultimately enjoy if they aren’t reading with a critical eye. There’s definitely a lot going on to keep the reader interested, though certain aspects are over-developed and others under-developed. For me, the haunted house element was far too subtle because I absolutely adore haunted houses, and the present-day love triangle aspect was over-done because I absolutely loathe love triangles. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I love-hated this novel.
The chapters alternate between a journal kept by Vincent Garland from the 1580’s and the present-day investigation led by archaeologist Dr. Sage Westfield. My favorite parts are Vincent’s journals, which possess the quality of perfectly executed Victorian-style writing and tropes. Alexander is without a doubt excellent at capturing the tone and spirit of that time period and the formality often found in high-fantasy. Her contemporary writing, though, could use some cutting down. Her characters are incredibly chatty and repeat conversations several times. I don’t know if that’s an editing problem or a filler problem. And her book’s ending opts for the cliché shock-factor out of left field rather than something heartfelt or meaningful.
If I ever read this novel again, I’ll skip the modern-day Sage sections and stick with the 1580’s Vincent journal entries. They are the saving grace of A Baby’s Bones, and for that reason I give it a 70 out of 100 score. Passing, but barely.