ARC Review: A Cozy Horror Novel

A House with Good Bones by T. Kingfisher

Publication Date: March 28, 2023

Summary from NetGalley:

A haunting Southern Gothic from an award-winning master of suspense, A House With Good Bones explores the dark, twisted roots lurking just beneath the veneer of a perfect home and family.

“Mom seems off.”

Her brother’s words echo in Sam Montgomery’s ear as she turns onto the quiet North Carolina street where their mother lives alone.

She brushes the thought away as she climbs the front steps. Sam’s excited for this rare extended visit, and looking forward to nights with just the two of them, drinking boxed wine, watching murder mystery shows, and guessing who the killer is long before the characters figure it out.

But stepping inside, she quickly realizes home isn’t what it used to be. Gone is the warm, cluttered charm her mom is known for; now the walls are painted a sterile white. Her mom jumps at the smallest noises and looks over her shoulder even when she’s the only person in the room. And when Sam steps out back to clear her head, she finds a jar of teeth hidden beneath the magazine-worthy rose bushes, and vultures are circling the garden from above.

To find out what’s got her mom so frightened in her own home, Sam will go digging for the truth. But some secrets are better left buried.

ARC provided by Macmillan-Tor/Forge via NetGalley for an honest review.


I’m not sure I could ever say that I felt cozy while reading a horror novel, but I certainly did with this one! Part of it was the main character, who was funny and charming the whole way through. But it was also due to the slow build up of the tension, you never really felt afraid until the very end. This was a book that I read in one day, because I just couldn’t put it down.

I just loved Sam. She was such a fun character to spend time with and I bonded with her almost immediately. She has a very analytical mind, being an entomologist and an archeologist, and she really wanted to explain everything that was happening in a realistic and scientific way. By the end though, she does come to realize that maybe not everything can be explained rationally. I also loved her wit and humor, and her little snippets about the natural world around her were delightful. Sam was definitely someone you wanted to root for when things got tough.

I also like the secondary characters in the book. Her mom, was also a delight, even when she was acting weird. Gail, the ‘witch’ who lived down the street, was also a fun character, who helped Sam when things got tough. And Phil, the handyman who gets caught up in everything, but doesn’t back down. He was kind and gentle with everyone and an all around good person.

The story was very well paced, with a slow build up of tension as Sam discovers more about her family history and how that relates to what is going on now. There was a minor theme of generational racism, that could have been explored a bit more, but was nicely handled. The scary scenes were pretty mild compared to some horror books I have read. No flying body parts or extreme violence or blood. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t scary, you want to read this one with the lights on!

If you are a true blue horror fan that loves the gore and violence, this may not be the book for you. If you don’t read horror because they are too scary or violent, you might want to give this one a try. The characters are funny, smart, and with the slow build up to the really scary parts, you are ready for it when it finally happens. A very smart and kind of fun haunted house story that will keep you reading through the night.

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