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The Bone House on Amazon
Where the children’s story is simply the right form for what the author has to say, then of course readers who want to hear that will read the story or re-read it, at any age. I never met The Wind in the Willows or the Bastable books till I was in my late twenties, and I do not think I have enjoyed them any the less on that account. I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story. The good one’s last.
I liked this book because it was real descriptive and I could picture what was happening. It just has a great plot overall but the illustrations were not as good as the words.To this twelve-year-old, the craft of the writing made the book come alive. It painted a picture better than what literal pictures could do. Granted, the illustrations may have been poor drawings but that is unlikely. In some sense, I find most illustrations to be poor, not because the quality of the drawing is poor, but because they don’t comport with what has been conjured up by my own imagination based on the words of the author.
“Hello? Biggin?” Groundwich knocked on the door as she opened it. “Biggin O’Sally?”For me, the musty smell of straw and animal come without the mention of any kind of smell. It comes with the picture in my mind. Another thing is what this scene does for the story itself. Against the opposition of just about everyone else in Ban Rona, and especially against the cruel tauntings of Grigory Bunge and other classmates that will come, there is no animosity from the O’Sally boys; just curiosity. This benign attitude stands out again and again and in fact plays a small but critical part in the climax of the story.
“Biggin’s gone. Just us.” A boy swaggered into the doorway and leaned against it as if he didn’t have a care in the world. He wore a white shirt without sleeves, and his pants were held up with suspenders. He tilted his head a little so the lock of his long black hair that wasn’t slicked back didn’t cover his eyes. A strip of dried meat hung out of his mouth, and he chewed it as he observed the visitors without even a nod of greeting.
“Who is it?” came another boy’s voice.
“Head Guildmadam Groundwich and some others. One’s a funny kid.”
The way he said it didn’t bother Janner for some reason. The boy was stating a fact, not hurling an insult. Kalmar didn’t seem to be bothered by it either.
“I wanna see.” Another boy, a little taller but dressed the same, with the same slick hair and unimpressed expression, appeared at the door and looked Kalmar over. “Oy, he’s furry,” he said, then he went back to whatever he had been doing.
“These are the O’Sally boys,” said Olumphia. “There are two others. Where are they?” She craned her neck to look inside.
“With Pa. Training. Out back.” The first boy sniffed and swallowed a chunk of meat.
“You can tell him, then,” said the guildmadam. “He has a new student. I won’t hear any complaint about it. Her name is Leeli Wingfeather, and I wager she’ll know dogspeak better than either of you by the end of the week.”
“No she won’t,” said the boy with a hint of a shrug. “Nobody can train better than me and my brothers. Not even Pa, though he won’t admit it. Don’t mean any disrespect, ma’am.”
“I took none, Thorn. But you’re wrong.”
“That’s possible, ma’am.” Thorn took another bite of meat and looked past them at Leeli for the first time. She sat on a bale of hay, scratching a gray horse of a dog behind the ears and singing to it. Behind the gray dog, a dozen more stood patiently in line, as though waiting their turn. “Very possible,” said Thorn with nod of surprise.
“Where is everybody?” Leeli asked.“In class. Down you go,” Nia said. “We need to speak to the head guildmaster.”Janner wanted to ask what a head guildmaster was, but he figured he would know soon enough.The three children were as skittish as thwaps in Podo’s garden as Nia marched up the steps and knocked three times on the main door. It swung open immediately, and before them stood a tall, hideous woman in boots and a blue dress. The sleeves were too short, so her knobby wrists and half her forearms stuck out past the frills. Her hair was pulled back in a bun, which made her heavy brow and jaw seem even bigger. She frowned at them with a face that boasted exactly ten curly whiskers: two sprouting from her chin, six on her upper lip, one jutting out from the center of her nose, and one on her left cheek. Janner felt bad for counting them.“Oy! Nia Igiby Wingfeather!” the woman barked. Her voice was somehow shrill and husky at the same time. “I was expecting you. Follow.” She spun around and clomped away.Nia gave the children a surprised look and led them into the school….The ten-whiskered woman stopped and held open a door labeled “Head Guildmadam.” Nia thanked her with a nod and herded the children through. The room was furnished with a small desk and several chairs. A big brown dog snored on a blanket in the corner. Nia gestured for the children to sit and waited until the whiskery dame closed the door and sat at the desk.“I figure you don’t remember me,” the woman said with a scowl. “I figure you’re Nia Igiby who up and married a king and left the Hollows. I figure you’re bringing your three pups here for a proper Hollish education. I figure you think you’re somebody now, don’t you?”“I do, as a matter of fact,” said Nia. “And I think you’re somebody too.”“Oy? Then who, Your Highness? Who is the woman who sits before you?” The woman leaned back in her chair and folded her arms. She stared at Nia and frowned with great effort, which caused the six whiskers on her upper lip and the two on her chin to flick about like the antennae of a bug.“Children,” Nia said, still looking the woman in the eye, “I’d like you to meet the guildmadam. Guildmadam Groundwich. I knew her many years ago as Olumphia Groundwich, the Terror of Swainsby Road.”….“Oy!” said Olumphia Groundwich, and she narrowed one eye. “Your mother knows me well. So well, in fact, that she had another name for me. Didn’t you, Nia Igiby? You called me something that no one else dared to call me.”“I did,” Nia said after a pause.“Tell them.” Mistress Groundwich scratched at a whisker and waved her hand. “Tell them now so we can be done with it.”Janner prayed that whatever name Nia called her wouldn’t lead to a fight right there in the guildmadam’s office. He desperately wanted to be on this woman’s good side, though he doubted she had a good side.“I called you friend,” Nia said with a smile. “My best friend.”“Oy!” Mistress Groundwich said. She leapt to her feet and towered over them. “Oy!” she said again. It startled all three Wingfeather children, who nearly jumped out of their seats.Nia embraced Olumphia, who lifted Nia off her feet and made a noise like a growl, at which point the big dog in the corner woke and thumped its tail. Nia looked like one of the children being swung around in one of Podo’s hugs.“Nia, my heart is full of joy at seeing you again. I just knew you’d been killed or imprisoned—or—Fanged.” She shot a glance at Kalmar and continued. “But you didn’t! You came back! And with children!”“It’s good to see you Olumphia,” Nia laughed. “And head guildmadam! By the hills and the hollows, I’m impressed! You hated school.”“I’m as surprised as you are. Never thought anyone would call me Guildmadam. I’m even more surprised that I love it. I always wondered why the Maker made me so tall and lanky, and why he gave me these rogue whiskers. Used to pluck them out every other day, but I found the students more terrified of me with them than without. I don’t have a husband—yet—so what do I care?”“Finding a man might be trickier with whiskers,” Nia said.“Oy! Hadn’t thought of that.” Olumphia plucked out one of the whiskers. Janner cringed. Olumphia blinked away the water that sprang to her eyes and chuckled. “There! I’ll find me a Hollish prince in no time. The blasted thing will be back by tomorrow evening, though.” Olumphia held up the whisker and inspected it with a frown.
Janner was tired of running. He wanted a place to call his own, a place where Fangs didn’t roam, where Stranders didn’t want to cut his throat, and where he and his family could finally be at peace. (p. 9)
Nia wiped her eyes. When she spoke, Janner heard the tremble of anger in her voice. “Gnag has hate enough in his heart to melt the very foundations of the castle, down to the bones of the isles itself. He won’t rest until Anniera sinks into the sea.”“But why?” Janner asked. “Why does he hate it so much? Who is he, even?”“Who knows? When it rages long enough, hate doesn’t need a reason. It burns for the sake of its own heat and devours whatever, or whomever, is set before it. Before the war, rumor came to us about an evil in the mountains—but Throg is a long way from Anniera. We never imagined it would come to us.” Nia closed her eyes. “By the time we realized the Fangs were after Anniera, it was too late. Your father believed the Symian Strait would protect us—or at least give us time to mount a defense.” She shook her head and looked at the children. “The point is, Gnag seemed to come from nowhere, like a crash of lightning. He wanted Anniera. He wanted us dead.” (p. 9,10)
...his words trailed off like a column of smoke into a starless sky. (p 37)
...tickling Molly’s skin like insect legs. (p 50)
Questions, like day-old bug bites, nagged him. (p 57)
Those words rushed back from the past like a winter wind... (p 130)
His hands quivered like the last leaves of autumn buffeted by a stiff November wind. (p 166)
The bullet pierced Symon’s palm like an awl through leather... (p 260)
The line began to move like a segmented worm... (p 83)
A memory, like a gunshot, exploded in Symon’s mind... (p 83)
After dipping the tip of his quill into an inkwell, he put the tip to the paper and began to write. The words flowed from his hand, though they were not born of him... His quill moved across the paper more rapidly now, the point carving words--vitriol--at an alarming pace. p. 1, 2