Review: The Bone Garden by Heather Kassner

The Bone Garden
By: Heather Kassner
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Teacher’s guide to the book
The Bone Garden by Heather Kassner is a perfect novel for those who love fall, graveyards, and spooky tales. Created by the imagination of Miss Vesper, Irréelle knows that she isn’t exactly real. She can tell that by just looking at herself: crooked limbs, mismatched parts, and white hair. But she wants to be a real girl, and everything that she does in this life is driven by that desire.

She works underneath a cemetery collecting bone dust for Miss Vesper, the vile and abusive creator who imagined Irréelle to life. The bone dust is used for experiments, including concocting more magical beings from Miss Vesper’s imagination. Irréelle hasn’t been perfectly put together by Miss Vesper, and her creator points out her flaws all the time. Irréelle lives with the constant reminder that Miss Vesper can unimagine her away at any moment.

Kassner’s writing takes a dark and suspenseful turn when Irréelle decides to run away from the abusive Miss Vesper. As she escapes, she runs into another of Miss Vesper’s creations. They come together to try to understand why Miss Vesper has created them, and what they can do to gain their freedom from her. They must investigate the cemetery while trying not to get caught and unimagined away by Miss Vesper.

The strum of darkness, mystery, and vividly described setting makes this a book that will be loved by readers who love adventure and suspense. Kassner does a great job describing a young person struggling with their own identity and the hardship of someone who still holds affection for their abusive “family”. These are important and tough subjects, but Kassner handles it with ease. The Bone Garden is a spooky and suspenseful story of identity and friendship.

Kassner’s second book, Forest of Stars, comes out on August 4th, 2020.

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