Candace “Candy” Pickens has been obsessed with the swamp lore of her tiny Louisiana town for . . . forever. Name any ghostly swamp figure and Candy will recite the entire tale in a way that will curl your toes and send chills up your spine.
That doesn’t mean Candy’s a believer, however. Even though she and her friends entered the swamp at the start of summer and left it changed, Candy’s the only one who can’t see or feel the magical swamp Shine. She’s also the only one who can’t see the ghosts that have been showing up and spooking everyone in town ever since. So Candy concentrates on other things—real things. Like fighting with her mother and plotting her escape from her crazy town.
But ghosts aren’t the only newcomers in Sticks, Louisiana. The King family arrives like a hurricane: in a blur and unwanted—at least by Candy. Mr. King is intent on filming the rumored ghostly activity for his hit TV show, Local Haunts. And while Candy can’t ignore how attracted she is to eighteen-year-old Gage King and how much his sister, Nova, wants to be friends, she’s still suspicious of the King family.
As Candy tries to figure out why the Kings are really in town and why the swamp that had previously cast her aside now seems to be invading every crack in her logical, cynical mind, she stumbles across the one piece of swamp lore she didn’t know. It’s a tale that’s more truth than myth, and may have all the answers . . . and its roots are in Candy’s own family tree.
Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published: February 23rd 2016 by HarperTeen
Two and a half stars: A book with a lot of potential, but it is missing something.
Candy is enduring her annual birthday celebration with her family. Instead of a normal birthday party, Candy is treated to her uncle relating the family's long, cursed history in the graveyard next to her grandfather's grave. Candy was born on the day her grandfather died, a tradition or curse that stretches back for generations. Candy will soon learn that the family curse is affecting her life in more ways than she ever dreamed, starting with the reason why she can't see the mysterious shine in the swamp or the ghosts the rest of the town claims to be seeing. Is there something special about Candy?
What I Liked:
- I enjoyed Beware the Wild the companion novel to Behold the Bones so I was eager to go back to the small town of Sticks and the creepy swamp that surrounds it. Once again, I was pleased with the creepy atmosphere and the strange occurrences in the small town. This time the focus in on ghostly sightings. I like the eerie atmospheric setting of this series.
- The book focuses on Candace. She is a tough girl, who is frustrated by her inability to see the paranormal. I liked that Candy was a fighter and that she stood up for herself. She is a no nonsense girl. I also appreciated that she transformed and changed, especially when it came out her views on the town and the people in it. At the beginning of the book, she wants nothing more than to escape Sticks and the people surrounding her, but as the the story progresses, she learns some startling truths about herself and her town, and she changes her mind. I liked her new outlook at the end, and I appreciated that she let go of many of her prejudices.
- I like the small town of Sticks. This is a town steeped in superstition and it thrives on its long history of ghost stories and swamp lore. Everyone in the town accepts that there is something paranormal about the swamp, and they have no trouble believing in ghosts. The small town and the swamp create the perfect backdrop for the story.
- I appreciated that the story had a strong focus on friends and family. Candy is fiercely loyal to her friends and family, and I liked that she always had her friends' backs.
- Even though this is the second novel in the series, you can read it without having read the first as it is a companion novel. This book has a different main character and story line. Events in the previous book are touched lightly on, but they don't have a strong bearing on this story. However, I would recommend reading the first book so you can gain an appreciation for the swamp and all of its peculiarities.
- The writing is wonderful. I loved the metaphors and similes and rich descriptions.
- The ending is crazy and chaotic with its big reveals and finale. I appreciated that once the dust settled that things tied off and ended neatly. No cliffhangers of nagging questions.
And The Not So Much:
- I wish I could put my finger on what was missing from this story. It just didn't grab my attention like the first book. I think one of the problems was that I felt like the book lacked focus. Not much happens during the first half of the book, other than a couple of ghostly sightings. I kept waiting for something big to happen, and it doesn't until the final pages. The pacing was slow, and I thought the book dragged, by the time I got to the end, it was too little too late. I was also expecting a better tie in with all the ghosts. Why were all the ghosts suddenly crawling out of the swamp?
- The King family was underdeveloped. I thought they were going to play a more prominent part in the book, especially Gage. Instead, the only who is featured is Nova. I wished that there had been more on the family, their travels and their ailing mother.
- The romance is a big miss. At first, it appears that Candy is going to fall for one boy, but he keeps shoving her away for personal reasons. There is a second suitor, whom I thought Candy treated very poorly. Then at the end, she makes her choice. The romance needed way more development. As it stands, it just felt thrown in there.
- There is a secondary story line that features Candy's friend, Abigail, who is struggling with her sexual identity. I wished that there had been a bit more on Abby, as I wanted to see here take a stand and be comfortable in her own skin, and with who she was. Unfortunately, her story line is abandoned and I was left wondering about her.
- I love the eerie atmosphere of the swamp, but unfortunately, the swamp doesn't play as prominent of a role as it did in the first book. I wanted more swamp.
- I was irritated with Candy because I couldn't understand why she kept trusting Nova. You would think one time getting burned she would learn, but she lets herself get taken advantage of by Nova several times. Annoying.
- This is a Young Adult book, but reader be warned, it is for a more mature audience as there is teen drinking and sex.
Behold the Bones was a book that I wanted to love, but I felt it faltered with a slow pace, lack of development with characters and story lines, a weak romance and an unfocused plot. I liked the atmospheric setting and the focus on friendship and family as well as the paranormal, but unfortunately this was a read that missed the mark a bit. If you want an interesting story, give this a try, but I would recommend borrowing it.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
Check out the first book: