All The Murmuring Bones by A.G. Slatter

All the Murmuring Bones with a shell, sea monster, and dolphin around it.

I’m a big fan of authors taking old epics and myths and retelling the with an emphasis on women characters (like Circe by Madeline Miller, The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec, and A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes – I’ll be reviewing another of her books here soon!).  A.G. Slatter’s All The Murmuring Bones is a gothic fairy tale full of Celtic mythological creatures. Selkies, kelpies, wights, and more, roam the land-and sea-scape.

“One for the house, one for the church, and one for the sea.” So goes the creed for the O’Malley family.  Generations ago, the O’Malleys struck a deal with the merpeople.  The mer would protect the O’Malley family’s ships and fortunes at sea. In return, the O’Malleys would sacrifice a child each generation.  For a long time, the deal was beneficial to the family (even if not for those sacrificed) and the O’Malley clan grew in fortune, status, and power.  But the desire to keep that power in the family led to fewer births and fewer children for the sea.  Soon, ships began sinking and fortunes began shrinking. 

Enter young Miren O’Malley, the only child raised at the old family manor of Hob’s Hallow after her parents left her there with her grandparents. Determine to revive the family’s legacy, Miren’s grandmother has plans for Miren.  But Miren’s cleverness and independence is a strong match for her grandmother and she refuses to be a pawn.  There are whispers of another home where she might find some answers.  Yet the land is full of perils – as is the water. 

This was a really fun and fascinating tale.  I wasn’t that familiar with a lot of the mythology from this region, so I enjoyed learning more. Slatter did an excellent job of blending them in as part of every-day life for the people who lived there.  Ghouls are just another thing you need to avoid on the road, like a pothole.  The first born children of the O’Malley clan must be branded so the mer do not kill them.  A dead body might tell you how they died. Just the way life goes! In addition to the fairy tale we’re reading, Miren weaves in her own fairy tales and stories with which she grew up, so you get a lot of story for one book. 

I feel like this would be even better to read in the fall, curled up under a blanket, listening to the wind make skeletal branches dance outside your window, casting shadows upon your walls and tapping eerily on the panes. But regardless of when you decide to read it, I’m sure you’ll enjoy All the Murmuring Bones!

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All the Murmuring Bones