That is, until one day, they do. Around the same time, a stranger shows up, Ellis, and he is oddly without a last name. Ellis is a mapmaker who wants to venture into the mountains to be able to make an accurate map- and for a more personal reason disclosed later. Facing being forced out of her home for lack of coin and also for a plan of her own, Ryn agrees to be his guide in the forest. Together, they may uncover the truth in the heart of the forest.
What I loved: The story is hauntingly well crafted, and the bone houses are intriguing while also feared. World and character building is top notch, and the reader is easily pulled into this fascinating other place and events. There is history, magic, a touch of romance, and a quest, making this a masterpiece for fantasy-lovers.
Ryn and Ellis are both characters that come to life in the pages of the book, and they, plus the side characters along the way (even the goat) are quite compelling. The romance is slow-building and sweet- easy to cheer for. Their journey and the truth behind the bone houses is certainly the driving force of the book, and this is certainly a page-turner.
What left me wanting more: The biggest mystery in the book is really easy to figure out. I was hoping for a bit more twists and turns and surprises, but it was still a well-crafted and engaging story, regardless, so it did not hinder my enjoyment (I just like to be surprised).
Final verdict: Spell-binding and fully-realized, THE BONE HOUSES is a a wonderful YA fantasy that will appeal to lovers of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES and/or THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS. As a stand-alone, this has great appeal for anyone looking for an engrossing new epic fantasy.