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To the Bones

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4.47  ·  Rating details ·  19 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Darrick MacBrehon, a government auditor, wakes among the dead. Bloodied and disoriented from a gaping head wound, the man who staggers out of the mine crack in Redbird, West Virginia, is much more powerful—and dangerous—than the one thrown in. An orphan with an unknown past, he must now figure out how to have a future.

Hard-as-nails Lourana Taylor works as a swe
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Paperback, 204 pages
Published April 25th 2019 by West Virginia University Press
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Average rating 4.47  · 
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Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
3.5 stars

Government auditor Darrick MacBrehon stops for gas off an isolated West Virginia exit and ends up in a mine crack for his trouble.  He wakes up disoriented in the hole surrounded by skeletal remains and crawls out in search of answers.

Lourana Taylor is ready to close up the local Redbird, West Virginia sweepstakes for the Thanksgiving holiday when a man staggers in with a bloody head wound.  She doesn't want any part of his trouble until he explains that he woke
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Isaac Thorne
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
At first, I wasn't sure I'd be able to get into this story. The first chapter doesn't immediately allow the reader any insight into where the protagonist (Darrick) is or how he got there. That's intentional. We're experiencing the scene through Darrick's own confusion. Starting a story with that type of confusion and without any fast-approaching light dawning tends to turn me away. It felt like an attempt to kickstart the mystery of the story, but with a bit too much tease.

That said,
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Jeanne Julian
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sometimes described as "a mash-up," this novel isn't the kind I'd choose from a library shelf if I weren't familiar with the author's poetry (which is terrific). It's a multi-crime mystery, a character study of people AND place, and a fantasy all at once. However, I enjoyed it, especially the two main characters, their differences and uneasy alliance. While it's in many ways a rollicking novel with touches of bitter humor, it sternly conveys how grotesque the real-life conditions are in towns th ...more
Marjorie Hudson
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
Valerian Nieman has made the perfect beach read...an evil coal baron, an intrepid reporter, a government man who wakes up with powers beyond his control, an ordinary woman shut down by grief, and a river so acid it strips the skin off Christians. Loved it! And the themes of souls at risk and environmental degradation caught me up in what becomes a great moral tale.
Beth Winegarner
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
TO THE BONES is an enjoyable page-turner that turns lots of genre tropes on their heads. The characters are likeable, rich and believable and the plot never lets up. A satisfyingly quirky read.
Lauren
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was SUCH a pleasure for me to read for a couple of reasons:

1) I met the author and listened to her talk about writing "in the woods" before picking up a copy. She's wonderful and brilliant and lovely, and after hearing her describe the novel I couldn't wait to read it.

2) It's like ...a masterclass?... on pacing. It's a quick read, but not so quick that you don't appreciate the multitude of cool things that are also happening outside the (engaging) plot. Like...

3) Nieman's stra
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Beth Castrodale
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Some of my favorite novels are those in which the setting is integral to the story. In this thrilling, genre-bending novel, the richly rendered setting is inseparable from characters’ fears, strengths, and weaknesses and from nearly every tragedy and triumph in the story.

The coal-baron family at the center of the novel seems to draw dark, otherworldly powers from the coal, and from the land itself. And these powers appear unstoppable, until a few townspeople, and an outsider who disc
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Natalie
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In To the Bones, Val Nieman manages to use the common tropes of West Virginia storytelling--mining, desolation, devotion to family and tradition--and turn them on their heads. Yes, this is a horror story, a mystery story, even a love story, but is also a commentary on the more serious topics of environmental destruction and blindly following power and tradition. The reader can tell how much fun Val had writing this; you'll have the same fun reading.
Rhonda Browning
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A must-read novel that's part ghost-story, part murder mystery, part love story, part environmental notice, and 100% enthralling!
MJ miranda_c_rites
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My new novel, To the Bones, is now out and about! Set in West Virginia, it's a genre mashup, a mystery/ "zombie" novel that takes a satiric look at on the realities of coal country. Many years as a journalist and farmer in the northern coalfields helped set the stage for this novel.
Leopard Lady: A Life in Verse, was published in October 2018. It's the story of an orphan child from Appalach
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