This weekend I finished Clare B. Dunkle’s By These Ten Bones (2005), which was nominated for the Dorothy Canfield Fisher award in 2007. I usually leave a book near where I keep my snacks at the library so I have something to peruse while I consume some late-morning energy. Although this selection is usually made from freshly returned books whenever I need something new, as often as not I don’t finish the novel at hand because it fails to sustain my interest. Last time I went looking for something new, a patron was good enough to return this gem.
Dunkle’s tale, set in northern Scotland perhaps several hundred years ago, when communities were sparse on the ground and pagan customs and superstitions coexisted with budding Christianity, is enthralling. A tiny close knit community is forced to face a shadowy evil in its midst, and the bravery of Maddie, a young girl with more of an open mind than most of her fellows, is crucial to saving the lives of her family and those she loves most.
A page turning story with vengeful witches, cures for a werewolf, a demon said to live in the nearby loch, and dense rolling fog to hide the true doings of the lot (if they really exist) – this little book has something for everyone. The tale is tight enough to hold the interest of anyone who enjoys young adult fiction with a gothic tendency, while any middle school student with an interest in bumps-in-the-night or even (gasp!) love will keep reading as well.
Have you been known to visit the library and take a look at recent returns in order to discover something you might otherwise have missed?