What would you do if a relative died and left you her creepy house, and fortune, on the condition that you relocate your life to live on the property? Oh, and everyone around you keeps acting super sketch? That’s Cordelia Bone’s problem in The Witches of Bone Hill. Part romance, part thriller, all fantasy, this book uses a lot of classic tropes, often to good effect. Ava Morgyn’s writing took me a while to warm up to, yet by the end of the book, I found myself sad to say goodbye to the Bone sisters. Thanks to St. Martin’s Griffin and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for a review.
Cordelia and Eustace Bone are estranged sisters of a mother estranged from her family. Cordelia is going through a messy divorce with a cheating husband when she hears from her sister for the first time in years: their great aunt Augusta is dead. Time to return to the family property in Connecticut, where a stodgy lawyer named Todgers (I kid you not) informs them that they can only inherit if they stick around. Sounds strange but OK. Then the weird shit gets weirder, for Cordelia and Eustace’s relatives weren’t just eccentric, reclusive, and rich—they were witches. And so are these two sisters.
I did not like the opening of this book at all. Cordelia comes across as a well-off, if scorned, woman of privilege. Morgyn kind of infodumps a bunch of stuff, like her relationship (or lack thereof) with Eustace, as well as most of the John/cheating backstory. Then a mafia boss shows up and shakes her down, and it all feels … cheesy. To be honest, that feeling never really goes away for the rest of the book. I guess I kind of just … started to roll with it. I could have dealt without either John or Busy’s extended involvement in the plot—neither of them feel all that necessary, and Busy is almost completely extraneous. But these are minor complaints.
The romance, similarly, didn’t work for me—but that’s just how I am with romance, as many of you might already know. For someone coming to this book specifically looking for such a subplot, I think you’ll like it. Sparks fly, the usual misunderstandings and recriminations occur, but in the end, you know how these things go. It’s standard—though not, I should say, all that steamy.
So I won’t lie: The Witches of Bone Hill was a slog for me at first. This book is also long, relatively speaking (I read it on my Kindle, but it’s 384 pages in print), and it takes a while for Morgyn to get to the point of the story.
But once we get there, it’s really good.
See, this is a story about two sisters who have to find their way separately but together. Eustace is ecstatic with their inheritance. She wants nothing more but to accept it, settle down, and embrace her burgeoning gift. Cordelia sees her gift as sinister, and she isn’t ready to leave behind her old life. The way that Morgyn contrasts these sisters, even as we learn more about their sordid and complex family history, is delightful. This is a book about how inheriting darkness doesn’t mean embracing it.
I really liked how Eustace and Cordelia plot to turn the tables on their adversary by throwing a party. The climax of the book is well done—though the identity of the villain is predictable, and the resolution equally easy to foresee, it’s still a fun ride. It’s still powerful to see these two women come into their own, connect to their ancestors, and rise to the occasion.
The Witches of Bone Hill is not quite a book for me, but I liked it well enough. If you like romance a bit more than me and want something that feels both fresh and familiar at the same time, I think you’ll enjoy this.