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The Bone Garden

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  604 ratings  ·  171 reviews
“Remember, my dear, you do not really and truly exist.”

Made of dust and bone and imagination, Irréelle fears she’s not quite real. Only the finest magical thread tethers her to life—and to Miss Vesper. But for all her efforts to please her cruel creator, the thread is unraveling. Irréelle is forgetful as she gathers bone dust. She is slow returning from the dark passages b
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 6th 2019 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  604 ratings  ·  171 reviews

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Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a flight of imagination! A truly original story. Spooky, scary, perfect for a camp cabin or a sleepover story sharing.

I loved the protagonist of the Bone Garden, aptly named Irréelle (' Unreal'). Made of bone dust and her creator's magic imagination, Irreelle is courageous, loving, and loyal. The beginning might scare you because it takes place in underground tunnels under a graveyard, and Irreelle is on her mission to collect (extract) bone dust that will permit Miss Vesper, her cruel crea
Hannah Greendale
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror, middle-grade, dnf
DNF at page 88. Intriguing idea from a debut author, but comparisions made to Neil Gaiman's work are too great a stretch of the imagination. Tried to push through this one but couldn't get past the clumsy writing. ...more
lily ☁️
The Bone Garden is an atmospheric, haunting, and wondrous tale that conjures up memories of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, as well as Victoria Schwab’s City of Ghosts, and leaves a trail of goosebumps on your skin, as you follow the main character Irréelle through winding underground tunnels, and a graveyard even eerier than you’d expect.

Irréelle’s existence, as her creator Miss Vesper never lets her forget, is made up entirely of bone dust and Miss Vesper’s imagination—just enough to easily dispose of
Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
Loved it! 💕

Absolutely fantastic! I read this one on audio because I was so smitten with Kassner’s new novel The Forest of Stars that I wanted to start it right away and the audiobook was available to me through my online library.

First off, the narration is amazing and done by Fiona Hardingham, whom I immediately recognized from other audiobooks by Kiersten White, Sabaa Tahir, Meagan Spooner, Maggie Stiefvater, and Christina McDonald, just to name a few. This novel drew me in within seconds with
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
All I want is for this to become a stop motion horror film á la Coraline.

I knew from the very first page that The Bone Garden was going to be special. It immediately pulled me into a sinister world of dark magic, evil caretakers, and cemeteries brimming with shadows. The first few chapters set a hair-raising atmosphere, one that I hoped would be maintained until the final pages, but feared that it would crumble sooner than later. And I wasn't wrong.
I loved the idea, the characters, the setting,
Aly (In Wonderland)
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, middle-grade
“Remember, my dear, you do not really and truly exist.”

If you ever wondered what would happen if Neil Gaiman and Tim Burton had a baby, then look no further. Heather Kassner’s debut The Bone Garden is a deliciously twisted middle grade tale of a girl who doesn’t truly exist and her quest to become something more.

Irréelle has known nothing but Miss Vesper and the bone garden for as long as she can remember. One day she was nothing, and the next she just was. Miss Vesper rules with an
Gabrielle Byrne
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was so thrilled (and lucky) to have the opportunity to read an early version of THE BONE GARDEN. In Irreelle, Kassner has built a heroine who is both eerie and sympathetic, hypnotic and disturbing. The way Miss Vesper wields her cold power is on par with the Mother from CORALINE, or the Father in MONSTROUS. Readers who love Neil Gaiman, Marcy Kate Connolly, or Jonathan Auxier are going to love THE BONE GARDEN. The writing is lyrical. The setting has the feel of a dark Victorian tale. Kassner d ...more
Joan He
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's been a longgg time since I've read any MG but Heather's book brought back all the creepy yet heartfelt elements I loved in old timers such as Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket's books. The writing feels classic yet perennial, the atmosphere so rich that you can smell the mold of the graveyard's underbelly but also the fine tea laced with vanilla, and the characters were so sympathetic. Irreelie's wishes and fears are clear yet complex, and I loved how she and the rest of the cast--the villain i ...more
kath | novel + folk
”Your name means unreal. You know, because you’re strange and incredible.”

This was a dark and s p o o k y little treasure that is determined to make a fan of middle grade horror out of everyone.

I am so pleasantly taken aback by how much of a page turner it was and I consumed its entirety in mere hours. The pages are filled to the brim with beautiful prose, gothic atmosphere, and even illustrations. If you love Neil Gaiman or Tim Burton, I think you’ll find a favourite in this odd yet charming ta
This was not particularly engaging. My attention kept slipping, and though the characters were moderately interesting, neither they nor the plot were sufficient to keep my attention for long each time I continued the narrative.
Amélie Zhao
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've had the absolute privilege of reading an early copy of this, and ... wow. Let me first say that I have not read a middle grade book for about ten years. But THE BONE GARDEN grabbed me from the very first chapter and would not let go.

Heather writes with a gentle magic and breathtaking beauty, and it's the exact sort of fragile, hopeful feeling that we get from the main character, Irreélle (a beautiful name meaning "unreal" or "surreal" in French). Irreélle is made of bone dust and fragments
Kelly Coon
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If Tim Burton and Lewis Carroll and the Grimm brothers wrote a book about a misfit girl, THE BONE GARDEN would be it. Only it was the brilliant Heather Kassner who composed this gift. I was hooked from page one, and could not shake myself loose through the rest of the story. It read like a fairy tale full of dark magic and eerie delights (THE HAND!!!!!!), but the sweetness of the off-kilter MC and the fiery spirit inside of her when she realizes she has a voice apart from her mistress Miss Vespe ...more
Jul 21, 2019 rated it liked it
An entertaining, unique tale overall :) Full review coming soon!

Thank you to Titan Books for sending me a review copy of this book. This did not, in any way, influenced my thoughts and rating.

My Blog - Drizzle & Hurricane Books - Twitter - Bloglovin'
Toya (the reading chemist)
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs, middle-grade
Do not be fooled by the middle grade genre, this beautifully dark story is chocked full of horror, despair, adventure, and hope.

The story begins with Irréelle raiding coffins to gather more bone dust for Miss Vesper. Miss Vesper is Irréelle’s creator, and she makes some of the vilest villains seem like a walk in the park. She is unbelievably cruel, constantly reminding Irréelle that she is not real and can be returned to the bone dust from which she came at a moment’s notice. My heart broke for
Oct 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
This was a charming little spooky middle grade tale. It was an easy and quick read, and while it didn't blow me away, I would recommend it for its target audience who want something a little dark and unusual to read! ...more
*I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher, in exchange for my honest opinion.

The synopsis for The Bone Garden sounded so good and the cover was so striking, that I immediately wanted to pick it up and I’m so glad that I did. This was honestly such a great middle grade story, that can be enjoyed by all ages. It had a depth to it that older readers can appreciate, but it was still a story that was not over complicated and was just all in all, an easy read. The writing too, was beau
Nov 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: standalones
Now this was a very nice horror/mystery, with lovely characters and great atmospheric narration!
Joanna Meyer
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-tbr
Lovely, lyrical, and creepy, but in a cozy kind of way. 🖤🖤🖤
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have to tell you, I absolutely love this eerie, odd tale. It’s the kind of book I would love to have read when I was younger – the main character is odd and unique and brave and seeks approval until she realises that she is strong and brave and doesn’t need approval, she is real and she matters. I feel a real connection to Irréelle and the story is so much richer because of that connection. So many of us are, in some way, seeking approval, seeking love, seeking to belong.

The writing style is h
M.  [storme reads a lot]
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Creepy and fun. A great read for October!
Dark, twisted, whimsical, and fun! A great read for the spooky season.
Belles Middle Grade Library
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If I have all the authors books I have to read them in order lol so before I start The Forest of Stars, I had to read this beauty! I finished it last night, & WOW! Such a unique book! From the characters, the details, & the plot-all so unique, creative, & amazing! I really loved this book! I loved our main character Irréelle so much! I wanted to hug her & tell her that her fears were unfounded & she is AMAZING as she is! I think this book shows how we should love ourselves as we are. There’s nob ...more
Katie Zhao
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Guys, trust me, you are not ready for Heather Kassner's THE BONE GARDEN. I devoured it in one sitting and I already can't wait to re-read it. This is one of those classic books that you know you will return to again and again, just to relive the magic of the world and characters and writing.

Heather masterfully spins the dark tale of Irreelle and Miss Vesper in THE BONE GARDEN. Not only is the world of graveyard tunnels so vivid and haunting (fans of CORALINE are sure to gobble up this book), bu
Gita Trelease
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Step into THE BONE GARDEN, where skeletons await, old houses hold dark secrets, and magic abounds. Irréelle spends her days venturing into creepy underground tunnels to gather bone dust for the mysterious Miss Vesper’s magic. All the while she longs for friendship and the chance to becomes something more than a girl made of dust and imagination: she wishes to be made real. But as the story unfurls, Irréelle finds she may have gotten more than she bargained for when her strength and kindness are ...more
Jodie Lynn Zdrok
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Heather Kassner's THE BONE GARDEN is beautifully haunting and spookily poignant. It has the feel of a classic, rewarding on many levels from start to finish. I absolutely loved this book!

With elegant, nuanced prose and an inviting MG voice, Kassner paints a world that's simultaneously dark and hopeful. The characters are distinct and memorable (wait until you meet The Hand--so well done!), and Irréelle will clasp your heartstrings from the first page. (By contrast, Miss Vesper's cruelty will mak
Gabriela Pop
Such a wonderful, quirky, eerie little book! Dark, touching and just mysterious enough to keep you engaged, I think this one is definitely one that fans of Neil Gaiman's middlegrade-reading fans should be on the lookout for; it definitely gave me the Graveyard Book feels that I went into it looking for.
I absolutely fell for Irréelle in no time and was rooting for her and wishing for her wellbeing since the very beginning and following her journey was quite emotional.
Additional yay for wha
Heather Kassner writes the strange and unusual like it’s true and familiar. Her debut is both sweet and cruel, chilling and hopeful. With a dark, but elegant Victorian setting and the question of ‘what will you do for the ones you love’ hiding in each page, THE BONE GARDEN is perfect for fans of Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman, Tim Burton, or Catherynne Valente’s Fairyland series. Plus, the illustrations are gloomy and gothic! (And if anyone wanted to make a candle for THE BONE GARDEN I have the perfect ...more
Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
This book has a gorgeously evocative atmosphere, very similar to Gaiman’s Coraline.

It was a wonderful MG read, but frankly I just wasn’t in the mood for it? I just couldn’t get invested. But even so, I know the setting balanced cleverly between gothic and spooky, and the characters were fascinating. If you like MG horror/gothic things, this is one for you.


I see the US editions has illustrations (?) but the UK edition doesn’t and I feel robbed
Lillian Clark
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had the incredible fortune to read Heather Kassner's debut THE BONE GARDEN early, and wow, what a beautiful book. The writing is lyrical and gorgeous. The story is both macabre and sweet. I fell in love with Ireelle, who is so perfectly imperfect. If you're a fan of Gaiman's GRAVEYARD BOOK and CORALINE, add THE BONE GARDEN to your tbr now! You will not be disappointed. ...more
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autumn-tbr-2019
Dark, very atmospheric, tense, bone chilling, creepy, scary, everything.
I adore this book. It's soooooo gooodddddd people!!!
If you have not read it, you must!
This book really make me feel I am there, right with them, run with them, being scared and hide with them. It's just so good! I love it!
I can't wait for more books for Heather.
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Heather Kassner loves thunderstorms, hummingbirds, and books. She lives with her husband in Arizona, waiting (and waiting and waiting) for the rain, photographing hummingbirds, and reading and writing strange little stories.

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