Book Review: A House With Good Bones by T. Kingfisher

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

A House With Good Bones by T. Kingfisher

Mogsy’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Genre: Horror

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Tor Nightfire (March 28, 2023)

Length: 256 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

When I think Southern Gothic fiction, I generally picture grim haunting tales set in creepy small towns in the American South. I think overall bleak tones with a sense of foreboding and dread. I think horror, the supernatural, the disturbing and the macabre.

What I don’t usually expect is to be laughing my ass off at the gut-busting humor. Yes, I know morbid or dark comedy is sometimes used in the genre to poke fun at Southern societal norms and traditions, but as usual, T. Kingfisher’s famed wit and lightness of touch makes her latest novel an instant gem.

In A House With Good Bones, we follow recently furloughed archaeoentomologist Samantha Montgomery on a visit to her hometown in rural North Carolina. Needing a place to stay for a while, she also figures this would be a good time to check in with her mother Edith, who has been acting very strange lately according to recent reports from Sam’s brother. Upon her arrival, Sam could immediately see what he means. Normally a happy-go-lucky woman, Edith has become tense and jumpy, overly cautious about everything. The house that Sam remembers as colorful and vibrant has also been repainted to the original bland hues which were favored by her miserable grandmother Mae, back when she was still alive and owned the home. Plus, the less said the better about the questionable décor which now adorns the place, which Sam knows to be completely out of character for her mom.

Worried that it might be dementia or worse, Sam sets out to find out what ails her mother. She learns that what Edith is experiencing could be symptoms of delayed bereavement for Gran Mae, even though the old woman has been dead for many years. But Edith’s odd behavior is also just the tip of the iceberg. As insects are her life’s work, Sam can’t help but notice her mother’s garden is completely devoid of any of the creepy crawlies which would normally be everywhere. Not a single ant, spider, or bee despite the garden being filled with Gran Mae’s famously beautiful rosebushes which have been growing at the house for decades. And that’s not even the weirdest part. One night, Sam wakes up to a horrifying discovery which even she as a seasoned entomologist finds disturbing, and that’s only the first of many more nasty surprises the house has in store for her.

If you enjoyed Kingfisher’s The Twisted Ones, then I think you’ll also come to love A House with Good Bones. That’s because the two books feel very similar to me in terms of tone and style, both serving up a perfect blend of horror and humor. Even the title is a cheeky gibe in its own way. The story also features a charismatic and lovable protagonist with an unforgettable voice. Sam Montgomery’s personality is positively infectious, reflected in her laidback narration which flows naturally off the page and frequently includes hilarious observations of the things happening around her. Even in the face of terrifying uncertainty, she can still liven things up with a joke or two.

I was also touched by Sam’s concern for Edith and the way she was so fiercely protective of her. Having just finished a string of novels about dysfunctional families, reading one that featured a strong, loving mother-daughter bond felt quite refreshing for a change. I also enjoyed the side characters, like the neighbors Gail, bitter rival of Gran Mae when she was alive, and Phil, the awkward but intelligent handyman who Sam becomes sweet on as the story progresses. I was even charmed by the wake of vultures, part of a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation program, which have taken over the street and made it their home.

It’s little things like that which made A House with Good Bones such a joy to read. Whenever a scene got too scary, some quirky detail or random quip would bring the tone back to lighter territory. Kingfisher has always had a knack for finding this balance between creepy and funny, and that’s why I keep coming back to her horror books. And no question about it, this one has become one of my favorites.

18 Comments on “Book Review: A House With Good Bones by T. Kingfisher”

  1. I am kicking myself for not requesting an ARC of this, but I just picked up the audiobook! Your review has made me even more excited to read this!


  2. What a lovely review! I decided not to go for this one, as the Horror label deterred me somewhat – but I think with all the humour and the fact that I do love Kingfisher’s writing, I’d have been okay. Thank you for sharing:)).


  3. Pingback: Bookshelf Roundup 04/02/23: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum

  4. Archaeoentomologist. Say that three times quickly. 🙂 I can’t wait to read my next Kingfisher story. Have loved all she’s written so far.


  5. The unexpected infusion of gut-busting humor in this Southern Gothic tale, coupled with a lovable protagonist and a strong mother-daughter bond, made it an absolute joy to read. Thank you, T. Kingfisher, for crafting a delightful blend of horror and humor in “A House with Good Bones.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: