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The Cold Is in Her Bones

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  1,632 ratings  ·  471 reviews
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 he
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 22nd 2019 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
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Allegra I know someone who read it and they’re 12, but I guess it does depend on what they like and what they read.

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Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have started this multiple times and deleted every one. I don't know how to talk about this book in a way which will convey how beautiful and haunting and meaningful it is.

This is a fairy tale, yes, but it is more than that. It is the story of a girl who is not beautiful nor plucky; a girl who is not always good or kind or obedient, though she is very good at pretending to be all of those things; this is not the story of a girl who finds her prince (or kind woodsman or farm boy) and lives Happ
h o l l i s
This is going to be short because I just don't want to waste any more time on this experience. I did sorta like the opening chapter/first part of THE COLD IS IN HER BONES. I was intrigued as to where and how this Medusa retelling was going to go. But everything after it was a total snooze-fest of weird without answers or direction. As of 60%, however, things just got.. messy and weird and batshit no.

Would not recommend.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchan
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
The Cold Is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale is a young adult fantasy novel that is inspired by the myth of Medusa. One young girl needs to find the strength to break a curse upon her family and friends before the curse takes her too.

Young Milla has never known anyone other than her immediate family and sometimes that isolation of their remote farm can become overwhelmingly lonely. When Milla’s parents agree to let another older couple stay and help them run the farm Milla never expected t
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
3.5 stars
Thanks to Netgalley for granting my wish and sending me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review

Who can resist a tale that is inspired by the Medusa myth? I certainly couldn't and was from the very first page lost in this dark mesmerizing tale. The Cold is in Her Bones is all about the bonds between siblings, friendship, young women finding themselves, and vengenance too. I feel that this is a novel that will appeal to both YA and adult audiences, even if snakes aren't your thing.
Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, via NetGalley for an honest review.


Something slithery this way comes.


Gather ‘round my cunning Slytherins!

I’ve got a retelling of our dear mummy dearest:


If Milla knows anything, it is that she must be a good girl. She must do her chores efficiently, must always stay clean and tidy, mustn’t ask questions that do not deserve answers, and must always pray to keep the demons away. But Mil
Rosamund Hodge
I am normally a very, very hard sell on stories with the premise "girl is raised in an oppressively sexist, vaguely Christian-coded society." But this one captured me from the start, first with elegant prose and then with its note-perfect depiction of Milla, an extremely isolated girl who grows up never allowed to leave her farm, unloved by her mother and father, loving her brother Niklas but not being loved quite as much in return—and whose life is transformed when Niklas's future wife Iris com ...more
Lizzy (Bent Bookworm)
~*Check out all my reviews over on The Bent Bookworm!*~
Girls who run from what frightens them don’t get what they want.

The Cold is in Her Bones is a loose retelling of Medusa’s story. I was expecting a lot more Greek influence, to be honest, so I was a little disappointed. It feels much more like a fairy tale of the British/German type, and the setting is very obviously inspired by that era, not ancient Greece. Maybe it was just me! Oh, and I was expecting snakes of the creepy variety. Um, ther
Mar 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Writing: 3.5 stars
Story/characters: 3 stars

Overall rating: 3.25 stars I guess?

Similarity to Medusa: might be just me but I didn't see much in common with the original but, it may be just me.

Not a totally absorbing tale for me but it was good enough to keep my interest and to see what happens next. It also helped me to relax and de-stress from work and being sick yet again (mother nature, make up your mind!) so it gets points for that as well.

The pace is steady for most of the tale so keep tha
Tracy (Cornerfolds)
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read more of my reviews at!

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 un
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This Medusa-inspired tale is captivating! I felt for Milla, feeling all alone and kept apart from everyone... But when the story unfolds, we understand why and oh the fantasy of it!

I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

You’d think the snakes on the cover would have clued me in, but the truth is, I didn’t find out that The Cold is in Her Bones was supposed to be inspired by the myth of Medusa until the day I started it. And in some ways, I wish I had remained blissfully unaware. For you see, knowing leads to expectations—expectations that weren’t quite met. It wasn’t the story or the characters that put me off, exactly; it was the fact th
Vicky Again
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was so amazing and lush, I’m absolutely astounded! I know I liked van Arsdale’s more lush, literary writing style from reading her debut, The Beast Is An Animal, but The Cold Is In Her Bones had a much more interesting and meaningful storyline to me, and now I’ll be anxiously awaiting the next book from van Arsdale!

Not only is this book lush and gorgeous with its sort of village feel (think The Beloved Wild by Melissa Ostrom), but the snakes and the imagery is lush without being overwhelmin
♠ Tabi⁷₈⁷ ♠
Oct 18, 2019 rated it did not like it
'There was once a girl who loved to lie in the grass and let it tickle her skin. She liked the feel of dirt under her fingers. She didn't like aprons or making dinner or washing dishes. She didn't like being told to behave.'


According to this book if you:

- have hair that isn't sleek blonde
- get enraged against misogyny
- think snakes are cute
- have one rebellious thought

then you just might be possessed by a demon so good luck to you!!


I was super excited by the fact that this claims to be a Med
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 or 3.75 out of 5 stars
Sheila Goicea
See this full review on my blog along with others at:

I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much! All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.


WARNING: If you don’t like snakes...then you may not like this book very much, because there are a lot of them!

Content Warning: Curses, Death, Emotional Abuse
And this anger became bitterness, and this bitterness turned her into
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this stunningly brilliant book. Bravo to author van Arsdale for this feminist fantasy/horror tale that's loosely based on the story of medusa (and let me just say that the two snakes growing from Milla's head, Sverd & Selv, are some of the best & best-named fantasy characters since Calcifer). This is a boldly subversive, complex, psychologically labyrinthine tale that I'll be thinking about for a long time to come. This author is an auto-buy for me ever since I read her incredibl ...more
rachel ☾
Jun 07, 2018 marked it as radar
'... inspired by the myth of Medusa.'

sign me up


Lindsay (pawsomereads)
Jan 06, 2021 marked it as did-not-finish
DNF @ 100 pages. I haven’t been able to connect with the story or characters. I’m finding it to be really slow and boring still at this point over a third of the way through the book and I’m not liking the writing style.
Jay G
Jan 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my Youtube channel:

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review*

Milla has always been told to be obedient to keep the demons at bay. Once a girl steps out of line, the demon Hulda will possess them and take over their minds. Milla lives in solitude on her family farm with her mother, father and brother, Niklas. She is not allowed to go to the village where the curse
Melanie  Brinkman
Demons and snakes aren't the only monsters that's slither over her bones.

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

The family farm is Milla's whole world. She's never been allowed to venture to the village with her perfect brother, Niklas. When a girl named Iris comes to stay, Milla hopes she's finally found a friend. But through Iris, she finds out the reason behind her isolation. A demon possesses girls at random and the townspeople live in fear of the curs
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-read, audiobook
I liked this one a lot. It was simple and straightforward, but really quite satisfying.

I was reminded of a couple of other books I enjoyed about girls and curses and family relationships, Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton and Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust. The Cold is in Her Bones is not the same, exactly, but shares a similar feel and explores characters in the same way. All three books really look at who a person is and how they are shaped by their close relationships, parti
Amy Imogene Reads

The concept of demon possessions/Medusa-inspired mythology was really cool, but I did not mesh well with its execution, and the writing style was too removed. It is also EXTREMELY slow so I felt the grating lack of connection acutely.

I also struggled with the portrayal of women—I can tell that the author is making a point with the narrative of female oppression and forced ignorance, but I just don’t enjoy those stories and don’t want to read it.
Aimee ♥ | Aimee, Always
curses!! love!! revenge!! inspired the myth of medusa!!!!!
madie (madieanne)
i’m not really sure how i feel about this
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Though not a perfect book for me, this dark fable was strangely compelling.

Much of what happens in the book is bizarre - it also touches a bit on feminism and how women have been and continue to be discounted in this world.

Overall, I liked it, but it's a slow and methodical storytelling that may lose a few readers before they reach the point where they get trapped in the dark story.

Honestly, still thinking on this one, but would read the author again.
Amanda (MetalPhantasmReads)
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Man this book surprised me! This tale, inspired by the myth of Medusa, has themes of feeling different, female suppression, friendship, loneliness and child neglect/abandonment and family issues. Milla was a great character that I think many people could relate to her in one way or another. The creepy element of the demon possessing girls is a great parallel for girls feeling misunderstood and out of place for feeling different. The pacing was perfect, creating a subtle yet persistent building o ...more
The Nerd Daily
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Nathalie DeFelice

It’s not often that Medusa lore comes up in fiction, much less YA. Often, she’s the villain. A misunderstood and evil woman whose only desire is the demise of others. The Cold Is In Her Bones explores the myth of Medusa in such a methodical and cunning way, a stunning characterisation of a creature that is often vilified while also exploring the bonds of siblings. It’s such a riveting read, and will give the readers chills as th
Julia (ten_thousand_books)

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley, Peternelle van Arsdale and Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.


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 sec
Rachel Ward
final rating: 3.5/5

so, i thought that this book was okay at best. i LOVE the concept, but i think it is just too short for everything to become fully fleshed-out. it left me wanting more from the world. if the book was closer to 350 pages there would have been more room to do things like develop the relationships with the family that Milla met, explore more about the demons and how they work, more about curses and witches, etc.

what i enjoyed:
~the writing style and prose
~overall concept (curse
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This was a wonderful Medusa-inspired story! The prologue was a straight-up fairytale, and most of the rest of the story was very fairytale-like. Friendship and forgiveness lay at the heart of this book, and those are my favorite themes to read. Don't let the cold of vengeance make a home in your bones! ...more
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Peternelle van Arsdale is a young adult novelist, essayist, and short story writer. Her first novel, THE BEAST IS AN ANIMAL, is being developed for a feature film by Amazon Studios, produced by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free and directed by Bert & Bertie. Her second novel, THE COLD IS IN HER BONES has been described as a "dark, magic-infused story lit by bravery and hope." (Booklist) She lives in Brook ...more

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59 likes · 15 comments
“There was once a girl who loved to lie in the grass and let it tickle her skin. She liked the feel of dirt under her fingers. She didn't like aprons or making dinner or washing dishes. She didn't like being told to behave. She didn't like feeling that no matter what she did her mother and father looked at her with disappointed eyes. She could never be pretty enough or sweet enough or pleasantly talkative enough. And she grew angrier and angrier and angrier that all anyone wanted her to be was an idea they held in their head that had nothing to do with her. And this anger became bitterness, and this bitterness turned her into a monster.” 2 likes
“It's just that if a demon wants you, a demon will get you. I don't think a little line of salt is going to keep it away.” 0 likes
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