Author: A.G. Slatter
Long ago Miren O’Malley’s family prospered due to a deal struck with the Mer: safety for their ships in return for a child of each generation. But for many years the family have been unable to keep their side of the bargain and have fallen into decline. Miren’s grandmother is determined to restore their glory, even at the price of Miren’s freedom.
A spellbinding tale of dark family secrets, magic and witches, and creatures of myth and the sea; of strong women and the men who seek to control them.
All the Murmuring Bones follows a girl’s journey to restore glory to her once powerful family. It is a darker fairytale that was a great read, although it featured less of the mer than I originally thought. For future readers, it is best to go into this novel with lower expectations as it is not a bad novel in any way, but it makes the reading more of a pleasant surprise and enhances the overall experience. This novel was nothing like I expected it to be, but I reset my expectations and found that it was a very entertaining tale.
We begin this novel with an introduction into the O’Malley family. Miren O’Malley at 18-years-old finds herself to be the last O’Malley daughter. Her family’s prosperity was based on a deal with the Mer (mermaids/sirens/merfolk) where the O’Malleys had safe passage on their ships in exchange for a child each generation. When the O’Malleys did not keep up their end of the bargain, their family started faltering. Our story begins with the death of Miren’s grandfather where the story opens with his funeral and the backstory of the O’Malleys is given. These first few chapters are a little dry as they are a lot of detail to set the scene for the characters and to give some backstory to the events that will occur in the story. To me, I would have preferred the backstory mixed in with more plot to not make it so detail driven so early on in the writing. It was well-written, but it wasn’t very captivating to me as a reader and I found myself having to push forward with the hope of more “action” later on. Luckily, the story did get better and I found myself much more enthralled once the events got going.
To restore the O’Malleys back to the previous glory, Miren’s grandmother, Aoife, decides that Miren needs to marry a distant cousin named Aiden Fitzpatrick, a controlling man who wants to be the dominant presence in Miren’s life. Deciding that this life is not for her after the death of her grandmother, she chooses to go on a journey to search for her parents, who are presumed dead. The story follows Miren on this journey with tales of celtric folklore, witchcraft, and mythical sea creatures, such as the kelpie. When the story is being set up in the first few chapters, Miren seems more subdued and submissive, but she finds her voice along the way and becomes more independent. The writing did a great job to explore her growth and presented an interesting story about our character finding herself after being initially told her life would be one way.
The writing was beautifully written as the darker, more gothic world, was set-up well in the beginning and I could easily picture each scene, even the mansion, both the darker and lighter descriptions of it. Miren’s journey and the short stories interspersed throughout the chapters were fantastically done as they were very descriptive. The story overall flowed well to follow Miren, but there were parts that were slower and more disjointed than others that seemed to not transition as well as other parts of the story. The novel is more complex than some other fantasy-type stories, but the revealing of the secrets is well-done and would not work in a simpler written work. There are a lot of supernatural and mythical beings interspersed throughout the story, such as the Mer, kelpies, wights, and ghosts, among other beings.
Overall, Miren is a well-written character that the reader wants to root for as you want nothing, but happiness for her. She has her flaws, but she is trying to learn from them, which was very relatable. She is an O’Malley and there are certain obligations that come with the name. For those who have their own family legacy, or are just familiar with the pressure that come with it, then it is fully relatable why she feels a certain way and makes certain decisions along the way to find herself outside of her name. Again, this story is not the one I was expecting to read, but I am glad I went into it with an open-mind as the writing was beautifully done and I enjoyed Miren’s journey and all the twists and turns along the way!
**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Titan Books, for an ARC to read and enjoy. The opinions expressed are completely my own.**