“By wood, stone, water, and bone.”
That cover! 😍 It’s all kinds of creepy and intriguing. I’ve been look forward to reading this one for months.
Deidre has always lived in a world of fantasy, imagining elaborate kingdoms of queens, knights and monsters. Skye’s role as the Queen of Swords has always been to save Deidre but when they move to a new town that doesn’t know the sisters by reputation Skye sees a fresh start, a chance to have friends for once. Then Deidre disappears and Skye may have to pick up her sword once again.
I really enjoyed the introduction, with its promise of some weird and wonderful monsters. I liked getting to know Skye and trying to figure out Deidre, who we mostly get to know through her older sister. I’ve seen some reviews where Skye and Deidre cop a fair amount of disdain. While I can see where those readers are coming from, as a once upon a time teenage girl I can also see ‘Welcome to Adolescence’ written all over a lot of these sisters’ quirks. They can be mean, vindictive, antagonistic, manipulative, selfish and annoying at times.
I actually loved that Skye wasn’t all sunshine and sweetness. She isn’t a girl who’s obsessed with her appearance. She’ll never be head cheerleader. Instead her only claim to fame has been ‘freak by proxy’, the weird girl’s sister, protector and only friend. She’s a real girl with real problems.
If she was going to disappear into her imaginary world and make herself a target all over again, it wasn’t like I could stop her. But she wasn’t keeping me in there with her. Not anymore.
Skye’s story explores family, friendships and secrets, and the lengths we will go to in order to protect them. The family dynamics make it seem inevitable that Deidre will follow where her monsters lead her. It also seems predetermined that although Skye should never have been cast in the role of her sister’s only protector that she would feel the pull of this during a time of crisis, no matter how much she wants to hold onto the new life she has forged for herself.
I loved the alternating chapters, which told me what was happening now and caught me up on the past, giving much needed context to the present. For a long time I expected Deidre’s behaviour to come with a mental health diagnosis, even if some of her monsters were real. While Deidre came across as weird I never found the creepiness I expected from this book.
I was eagerly anticipating the appearance of this book’s monsters from the first time I read the blurb, but I found them disappointing. There was such a build up to them and while I loved their form, their voices didn’t work for me. I did find out why that was but even then it didn’t sit right with me. Their motivation was barely explored and their history was only hinted at. The resolution to their story was a let down for me.
If I could review this book in two parts, I’d be giving ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for the pre monster part and ⭐️⭐️⭐️ after they arrive.
Content warnings include bullying.
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read this book.
Once Upon a Blurb
The Blair Witch Project meets Imaginary Girls in this story of codependent sisterhood, the struggle to claim one’s own space, and the power of secrets.
Sixteen-year-old Skye is done playing the knight in shining armor for her insufferable younger sister, Deirdre. Moving across the country seems like the perfect chance to start over.
In their isolated new neighbourhood, Skye manages to fit in, but Deirdre withdraws from everyone, becoming fixated on the swampy woods behind their house and building monstrous sculptures out of sticks and bones.
Then Deirdre disappears.
And when something awful comes scratching at Skye’s window in the middle of the night, claiming she’s the only one who can save Deirdre, Skye knows she will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.