Saturday, March 23, 2019

Book Review: The Cold is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale

Title: The Cold is in Her Bones
Author: Peternelle van Arsdale
Publication Date: January 22, 2019
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pages: 288
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One girl must uncover secrets of the past to save her friend from a terrible curse in this dark and mesmerizing story of love, revenge, and redemption inspired by the myth of Medusa.

Milla knows two things to be true: Demons are real, and fear will keep her safe.

Milla's whole world is her family's farm. She is never allowed to travel to the village and her only friend is her beloved older brother, Niklas. When a bright-eyed girl named Iris comes to stay, Milla hopes her loneliness might finally be coming to an end. But Iris has a secret she's forbidden to share: The village is cursed by a demon who possesses girls at random, and the townspeople live in terror of who it will come for next.

Now, it seems, the demon has come for Iris. When Iris is captured and imprisoned with other possessed girls, Milla leaves home to rescue her and break the curse forever. Her only company on the journey is a terrible new secret of her own: Milla is changing, too, and may soon be a demon herself.

The Cold Is in Her Bones is a novel about the dark, reverberating power of pain, the yearning to be seen and understood, and the fragile optimism of love.

Last year I read The Beast is an Animal and found it to be an incredibly unique and refreshing take on YA fantasy retellings. It was a little bit weird and pretty dark and definitely should NOT be on a "romantic Beauty and the Beast retellings" display, although I saw it on far too many. When I saw that this author was writing a new book I knew that I had to get it!

This time around the story retold is Medusa, although I'll admit I didn't realize that until way too late in the book. Although there were snakes in Milla's hair in the book and on the cover, it never occurred to me that this was a retelling - it's just that unique. Milla is a girl who doesn't fit into the life laid out for her. Her family sees her as rebellious and odd and beg her to just fit into the mold to save herself from the curse that has plagued the nearby village, a curse that takes daughters and possesses them.

Milla is such a wonderful character! Although she did try very hard to stay within the boundaries set for her, she just couldn't be kept there and I loved her strength and resilience. Things are pushed over the edge when Iris comes to stay with Milla's neighbors and ends up being taken by the demon. Milla goes after her and the journey and revelations are dark and creepy and amazing.

The relationships in The Cold is in Her Bones were really well written, mostly friendships between girls and girls looking up to girls and girls saving girls! There aren't nearly enough really great female friendships in YA literature, at least not in fantasy, so I really appreciated this aspect. I also really loved the moral of the story! Again, not something super common (or at least not super blatant) in YA fantasy, but I enjoyed the way it was written. The Medusa character, Hulda, was fascinating and complex. Even the characters I hated were wonderful. I loved everything!

It's really hard for me to review this book because a lot of what makes it so great is the atmosphere created by Peternelle van Arsdale. She has a style of writing that makes you feel as if you've been placed right in the middle of a dangerous, dark folktale. I loved the feeling of this book and was eager to jump back into it every night that I was reading it. The story grabbed me from the very first line of the prologue and when it was over I didn't want to leave. I will admit that there were times when things just meandered along, but I felt that it added to the atmosphere so I didn't mind it.

The Cold is in Her Bones is a book for people who don't mind stories that are a little weird and dark (and especially for people who love them). Again, this author has given us a very unique and atmospheric retelling of a classic that I absolutely devoured. She has most definitely found her way onto my favorites shelf!