book reviews by Althea

The Thread That Binds the Bones (plus Bonus Stories) – Nina Kiriki Hoffman

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The Thread That Binds the Bones
The Thread That Binds the Bones by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tom Renfield, janitor-cum-taxi driver, has always had some weird abilities – seeing ghosts, perceiving other ‘currents’ of energy… but he’s always tried to ignore them. Running from himself seems to be a large part of how he ended up in the tiny town of Arcadia. However, when he picks up a beautiful model from the big city in his taxi and sets off to take her to her brother’s wedding at an obscure house in the woods, little does he know what he’s in for. Laura’s extended family are an ancient clan of witches(?) who make a habit of terrorizing and enslaving the townspeople. However, that doesn’t stop Tom from instantly falling in love with her. With the help of a ghost, things are about to get shaken up in the town of Arcadia…

I read this novel in 2008, but recently picked up the Open Road Media eBook for the two bonus stories. The stories are both good, but aimed toward a younger readership than the novel. They share the theme of young people standing up for themselves and dealing with people who may hurt them. Both also have a skein of magic running through them, as both young people encounter a ghostly presence.

“Lost Lives”
A young boy has been bounced from relative to relative. He just wants to get along and be left alone, but his latest ‘home’ is with a bullying and resentful cousin. If he opens up to his aunt about the problem, he’s sure, she’d just side with her own son. But a change may come, after he finds a strange item by the side of the road – and a girl’s voice seems to speak to him through it.
This seems very much like either the beginning of a novel or an incident in the lives of characters who have been explored more deeply elsewhere. (Not sure if it is.) I liked it, though.

A girl from a family of magical talents is irresistibly drawn to leap into a mall fountain – repository of thrown coins that hold wishes. Willy-nilly, she becomes the vehicle of one wish: a mother’s desperate desire to see her murdered daughter one more time.
Sometimes, we cannot protect those close to us, even though we wish to – and this is something that must be accepted, even though difficult. The message gets slightly heavy-handed, but I still enjoyed the story. Again, I’d love to find out more about the characters.

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