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The Bone Garden

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  144 ratings  ·  66 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
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 23rd 2019 by Titan Books Ltd
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4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  144 ratings  ·  66 reviews

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Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Dannii Elle
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is like the love child of Tim Burton, Neil Gaiman, and the Brothers Grimm and could not fail to appeal to my Gothic-loving heart.

The Bone Garden follows Irréelle, a being made of dust and bone and kept alive by imagination and on the good graces of Miss Vesper. But when Irréelle shatters Miss Vesper's newest creation she is banished from her sight and must strive to survive amongst the dead, traversing the graveyard beyond her once home.

This story walked the fine line between fun and d
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
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
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,
Gabrielle Byrne
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aly (In Wonderland)
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, arc
“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 iron fis
Joan He
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Amélie Zhao
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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'
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Kelly Coon
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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*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
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Katie Zhao
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Lillian Clark
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Kate (beautifulbookland)
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
The Bone Garden is a middle grade book, which I didn’t know going into it, and also kind of didn’t know when I finished it either. I usually associate middle grade books with really childish and silly writing, and so I usually try to avoid it – think Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

I’m happy to report that this book is nothing like Diary of a Wimpy Kid; it is breathtaking and beautiful and completely and utterly creepy, and I absolutely loved it. The main character, Irreélle, is made up of bone dust and im
Addie Thorley
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is SO delightful! It's creepy and whimsical with some of the most gorgeous writing I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Kassner's descriptions paint such vivid pictures that really bring Miss Vesper's house and both the under and over side of the graveyard to life. The fabulous characters absolutely leap off the page. I adored Irreelle and her group of bone-and-dust misfits, and I was ardently cheering them on as they learned to love and trust in themselves and each other. And THE ...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
Gabriela Pop
Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it
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
No One
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully haunting and compelling book my heart was hooked from the first page. I honestly couldn’t get enough I hope the author writes more books like this in the future.
Aug 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3,5 stars

This book had a ton of original and creepy ideas plus the writing was beautiful but the execution was lacking in a lot of ways. The characters weren't very developed and the plot was agonizingly slow sometimes for such a short book. Overall, it was worth a try but I'm still a bit diappointed.
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was gifted a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for review.

When I requested a copy of this one from the publisher I wasn't aware it was a middle grade story. I was just really drawn in by the synopsis but it being a middle grade I think really aided in my enjoyment. It fit really well with the story and the author did a great job at making it appeal to both children and adults.

I really enjoyed this story. It was quite macabre and the opening chapter was quite eerie but it wasn'
Jul 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Firstly I would like to say a huge thank you to Titan Books for sending me a copy of this book for review. The cover is beautifully creepy and eye catching, if I saw it in the bookshop it would probably be a cover buy! I’m not going to lie though, this was one hard book to get into, I just don’t think that the writing style was for me or it could be that it’s just different than what I’m used to reading, I’ll admit I had really got into the flow by about halfway through and was glad I stuck with ...more
Teresa Barrera
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Irréelle is not quite real, as though she feels. She is tethered by a magical thread to her creator, Miss Vesper.
With the need and desire to please Miss Vesper, Irréelle does her best collecting the bone dust, but she's is quite forgetful and slow at returning from the dark passages beneath the cemetery.
After Irréelle makes the mistake of destroying the frightful creature Miss Vesper brought to life, Miss Vesper threatens to imagine Irréelle away out if existence.
Defying her creator for the fi
Jul 22, 2019 rated it liked it
The Bone Garden is described as ‘a spellbinding dark fantasy fable’ and that’s exactly how it feels from the beginning.
There’s a dark, eerie atmosphere to the whole story and gives the feel of an original fairytale.

Irréelle is a character that your route for. Although quite timid at first, she becomes brave and stubborn and will do whatever she needs to to keep her friends safe.
I didn’t realise this book was middle grade before I started reading it but it definitely has an appeal for younger rea
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel started out kind of slow but picked up steam as I read more. Miss Vesper has created a ghostly girl for reasons only she know. The girl, Irrelle, finds two other beings, Lass and Guy and they go on a quest to find something Miss Vesper desperately wants. Will they find it before Miss Vesper gets rid of them? Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to be an early reader in exchange for my honest review.
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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.