The Rattled Bones is a super-atmospheric ghost story that follows a young woman named Rilla Brae who has recently lost her father and is struggling with her grief as well as her uncertain future. The story takes place in a small Maine fishing community and visible to the town is a mysterious uninhabited island.
One night Rilla sees the apparition of a ghostly girl floating over the nearby island and her haunting yet familiar song reaches Rilla, beckoning her.
The ghosts pull grows stronger until intrigued, Rilla boats over to the island. There she meets a young man named Sam, a university student who’s excavating the island and searching for clues about the island people who were evicted from the island 80 years earlier.
Now, this is news to her, as Rilla has never heard of anyone living on the island, and she is determined and excited to investigate the island’s history. Bit the bit, the island’s horrifying past — and a tragedy that has been kept secret – finally comes to light — a disaster that has a strong connection to Rilla’s own past.
So there’s a lot going on with this story: long-held secrets, grief, and loss, there’s a mystery to solve, there’s the struggle between tradition and moving forward, the connection between the past and present, there’s the horror of racial prejudice and even a touch of romance. And given that this is a ghost story, there’s a delightful creep factor to it as well.
It was so much fun journeying with Rilla, and she began to uncover the island’s strange and unsettling past and discover herself in the process. It’s also an excellent example of how an unnerving and distressing past can resound right into the present in a variety of ways with the uneasy suspense building page after page.
One of the things I loved most about this book was the way the author developed the mystery and then slowly weaved together its strands, bringing the characters closer to each other in the process. This is an atmospheric book that is vibrant with life, rich in culture, and yet, is followed by haunting shadows that make your spine tingle.