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All the Murmuring Bones

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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 dar 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.


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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 dar 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.

30 review for All the Murmuring Bones

  1. 5 out of 5

    Juliet

    A beautifully written, very dark fantasy (at times verging on horror) by this award-winning writer. The language is evocative and powerful, and the story pulls no punches. The classic elements of gothic fantasy are there - a strange old house, a family with dark secrets, and various eldritch manifestations. But there is nothing cliched about All the Murmuring Bones - it's outstandingly original in both ideas and storytelling. The folkloric tales that are sprinkled through the book give the story A beautifully written, very dark fantasy (at times verging on horror) by this award-winning writer. The language is evocative and powerful, and the story pulls no punches. The classic elements of gothic fantasy are there - a strange old house, a family with dark secrets, and various eldritch manifestations. But there is nothing cliched about All the Murmuring Bones - it's outstandingly original in both ideas and storytelling. The folkloric tales that are sprinkled through the book give the story and characters added depth.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Renaissance Kate

    Blog | Twitter While I agree with other reviewers that this book was not what I expected, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. 1st person POV is usually hit or miss for me, and in this case A.G. Slatter nailed it. I absolutely loved Miren’s character and the opportunity to experience the story through her eyes. I would categorize her as a morally gray character, but one whose choices I understood and whom I saw as a kind-hearted young woman striving to do what was right. I would describe this book as bo Blog | Twitter While I agree with other reviewers that this book was not what I expected, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. 1st person POV is usually hit or miss for me, and in this case A.G. Slatter nailed it. I absolutely loved Miren’s character and the opportunity to experience the story through her eyes. I would categorize her as a morally gray character, but one whose choices I understood and whom I saw as a kind-hearted young woman striving to do what was right. I would describe this book as both “dark” and “gothic”, but otherwise its description does not do it justice. The synopsis only describes the first third of the book, perhaps even less. While Miren’s grandmother provides the catalyst for the story, there is so much more beneath the surface of this tale (pun intended) that isn’t mentioned in the description. Because of this, I’d encourage you to pick it up so that you can see just how well the layers are built upon the information provided upfront. AtMB is very much a character-driven story, and each new twist and turn only enhances the story further as Miren’s choices propel the plot forward. This book involves magic, but it isn’t nearly as important as the family legacies, myths, and creatures that make up Miren’s world. Her backstory and relationships within her family hold an otherworldly essence of their own, especially given the folklore passed down through the generations. In addition, Miren encounters various sea creatures along her journey that Slatter incorporated into the story in unique ways. And yes, this book has its gruesome and unpleasant moments, but I couldn’t help remaining hopeful as Miren sought to unravel mysteries of the past while fighting to create a future of her own. I would have liked to see some of the side characters fleshed out or incorporated more, from the travelling troupe of performers to Brigid and even to the green-eyed man. I’m also a huge sucker for romance, so I would have liked for Slatter to dive deeper into Miren’s relationship with Jed. Lastly, I wish the climax and the downfall of the villains could have been slightly more drawn out and dramatic. That being said, this book still has a great cast of side characters both good and evil, and each one was woven in well to fit their part in the story. In the end, I truly enjoyed this book and how I found myself looking forward to reading it before bed. Although it’s a standalone, I will likely pick it up again in the future and will also be on the lookout for A.G. Slatter’s future novels, starting with Morwood coming in 2022. TW/CW: parent death, sibling death, child death, infant death, death of a loved one, parental abandonment, abuse, torture, suicide and suicidal thoughts, incest, forced marriage, violence, gore, sacrifice, murder, imprisonment Thank you to Titan Books via Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

  3. 4 out of 5

    ✩ Yaz ✩

    3 - ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Thank you NetGalley and Titan Books for providing me with an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review. There’s an old woman, though, with plans and plots of long gestation; and there’s the sea, which will have her due, come hell or high water; and there are secrets and lies which never stay buried forever. All the Murmuring Bones is considered to be a dark gothic fairytale following the O'Malleys, the once-powerful family. The O'Malleys' prosperity is the fruition of the bargain with the Me 3 - ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Thank you NetGalley and Titan Books for providing me with an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review. There’s an old woman, though, with plans and plots of long gestation; and there’s the sea, which will have her due, come hell or high water; and there are secrets and lies which never stay buried forever. All the Murmuring Bones is considered to be a dark gothic fairytale following the O'Malleys, the once-powerful family. The O'Malleys' prosperity is the fruition of the bargain with the Merfolk: safety for their ships in return for a child of each generation. However, the O'Malleys' bloodline faltered and their power and wealth started to decline as they ceased to do their part of the bargain. Every new generation of the family stopped offering a child of theirs and in turn their own bloodline is on the verge of extinction It wasn't until Aoife O'Malley made up her mind about restoring the O'Malley's glory through her granddaughter, Miren. 18-year-old Miren O'Malley is the last O'Malley daughter and her grandmother has kept her in isolation to keep her pure for the marriage mart. Abandoned by her parents when she was little, Miren cares little about restoring her family's glory and detests the matrimonial project her grandmother is forcing her into. Especially if she is engaged to an ambitious and greedy man like Aidan Fitzpatrick who wants nothing but to assert his dominance and take the reins of Miren's life. Miren begins to suspect the mystery surrounding her parents' deaths, if they are actually dead, and it set in motion Miren's journey towards uncovering the dark truths and mysteries tied to her family. Whatever soul I might have, O'Malley though I might be, it is mine and I'll not sell it at any price. I think the premise of this book set my expectations way too high that I found myself sorely disappointed with how the story turned out. It wasn't that the story was not good or did not have great potential... but it's just that the story lost me many times. It was a struggle to get through some chapters and when I am getting less invested in the story and more focused on getting through some pages to see what happens later, that shows that there wasn't much that I enjoyed. There were some gripping moments but they did not make up for the overall boring experience that I had with this book. It had an amazing potential if it were not for how heavy and erratic the flow of the story was. There were some really heavy chapters to get through especially the earlier ones. I was expecting more fantastical elements within the story, it felt disjointed with the story. It felt to me that the author neglected creating a connection between the heroine and the reader and thus I was not really into the heroine's journey. But I have to praise the eerie and dark atmosphere the author creates because I liked that. I think it's fair to give it a 3-star rating.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Di Maitland

    OUT TODAY, 9 MARCH! 'Mark my words, Miren, the O'Malleys are on the rise.' I REALLY liked this one. I didn't speed through it like I do some books but I loved the writing, the setting and even Miren. 'One for the house, one for the Church and one for the sea.' When Miren's grandfather dies, her grandmother Aoife, the last true O'Malley, decides to marry her to her distant cousin to help refill the family coffers. Knowing that her reservations against the match will go unhindered, Miren plots her own OUT TODAY, 9 MARCH! 'Mark my words, Miren, the O'Malleys are on the rise.' I REALLY liked this one. I didn't speed through it like I do some books but I loved the writing, the setting and even Miren. 'One for the house, one for the Church and one for the sea.' When Miren's grandfather dies, her grandmother Aoife, the last true O'Malley, decides to marry her to her distant cousin to help refill the family coffers. Knowing that her reservations against the match will go unhindered, Miren plots her own way out of the union and goes in search of family elsewhere. 'Hard to know, too, how many burn who are genuinely those who can hex, and how many are merely inconvenient women.' All the Murmuring Bones is my first Gothic novel - and there's no doubt it falls into that bracket. There are: - Not one but two delapidated mansions - Damsels in distress (though they're perfectly capable of getting themselves out of distress) - Ghosts, walking dead and other monstrous, fantastical creatures - Some rather iffy male protagonists - Discussions of both Church and witchcraft - Death and murder - Darkness and isolation - Cold, dreary weather All that seems to suggest a rather dark tale. And whilst it's certainly not all sunshine and rainbows, it doesn't feel as malevolent as some I've read (Prince of Thorns and The Traitor Baru Cormorant, for example). I had every faith that, whilst Miren was capable of ruthless acts, her heart was good and good would win in the end. 'Other families might have stories of curses, cold lads and white ladies, but we have old gods, merfolk and monsters.' The story is set in an Irish-inspired secondary-world where small witchcraft is possible and mermaids, kelpies, ghosts, corpsewights, shapeshifters, vampires and automatons exist, not to mention other creatures I'd not heard of like nuggles and tangies. Their presence is not considered exceptional by the characters but nor is the world particularly changed by their presence, resembling pretty closely what I imagine 18th or 19th century Ireland to have been like. Likewise, the magic we see, by and large, seems to be small trivialities of growth and production, that are little explained and, whilst certainly important, not the be all and end all for society at large. I enjoyed the balance, feeling it added spice to an already interesting world without overwhelming it. 'Why do they all think me harmless? He might be a good judge of men, but he's an appalling one of women.' I like Miren, a lot. She's a hard one to gauge to start. We see the world through her eyes yet we're given little inkling as to her thoughts or plans which certainly keeps us on our toes. As the story progresses, we see she's capable of great kindness and cares for those she considers within her purview. At the same time, she's capable of quick, ruthless action when threatened - something I admired in her, having spent too long shouting at soft characters who just can't bear to make the killing blow at the eleventh hour. She's smart, though distrustful; quick to suss out lies, and willing to dish out her own when she feels it necessary. There's little 'how on earth did she not see that', and lots of 'huh, now that she mentions it...'. 'Perhaps I'm free and do not know it. How will I ever know?' Slatter treats her readers like adults. She doesn't pander to false tension or obvious twists but lays out a tale where both good and bad happen (and sometimes both at once) and it's up to you to judge if they balance. I found her writing beautiful and her descriptions evocative. I enjoyed the short tales she includes (some of which, she says in her acknowledgements, are drawn from Sourdough and Other Stories) and the journey she takes us on in the early pages through the history of the O'Malleys and their home, Hob's Hallow. The pace is slow and it takes over half the book for Miren to arrive where she means to go and for the action to pick up; there was never a doubt that I'd finish though. I wasn't sure what the denouement would be but I wanted to join Miren on the journey. This is not a book to read when you're tired and it's dreary outside - this book would probably depress you further. But it is a book to read and one I throughly enjoyed. It's a little darker than my usual go-to reading (both in terms of light and sentiment), which, along with the pace, is probably why I gave it 4 stars and not 5, but I'm glad I have read it and I'd read more by Slatter (whether writing as A. G. or Angela). This book was provided free of charge by NetGalley in return for an honest review. If you liked this, you might like:

  5. 4 out of 5

    Athena (OneReadingNurse)

    Thank you so much to Titan Books via NetGalley for the early digital copy of All the Murmuring Bones! This is a hugely atmospheric, dark fairy tale from A.G Slatter that I think most fans of lore and legends will love Oh man, so far I think Slatter deserves every single of those literary awards, and I am extremely interested in her short fiction tales. All the Murmuring Bones is all of the things in the description and more. Miren is the last of the O'Malleys and is absolutely not going to be cont Thank you so much to Titan Books via NetGalley for the early digital copy of All the Murmuring Bones! This is a hugely atmospheric, dark fairy tale from A.G Slatter that I think most fans of lore and legends will love Oh man, so far I think Slatter deserves every single of those literary awards, and I am extremely interested in her short fiction tales. All the Murmuring Bones is all of the things in the description and more. Miren is the last of the O'Malleys and is absolutely not going to be controlled by any man, nor give children up to the sea. Reeling from the decisions made by her grandmother before her death, including an arranged marriage, Miren takes off to find her (presumably deceased, but not) parents. Her journey is met with ghosts, wights, kelpies, Merfolk, and all other sorts of legend. All obstacles aside, Miren is Aoife's granddaughter and has a basic knowledge of witchcraft, and she is of an absolutely fierce line of women. I liked the theme of the men having a semblance of control throughout the family history, while the women truly and obviously ran things. The story is addicting, with little short stories intertwined as Miren recalls or learns more family lore. There is murder and mystery and bargains to be made. The book starts at Hob's Head, the family ancestral home, a sea side estate falling into disrepair. With wights on the main road and a family crypt, the setting and atmosphere are set. Her parents home of Blackwater is equally mysterious, but it's hard to go there without spoilers on the mystery so I won't. Lets say that just about nothing at Blackwater is as it appears, and I was just shocked at .. All of it. Let's just say that the setting and atmosphere is absolutely first rate. Bonus content: how to pronounce these Irish names: Aoife: EE-fuh Oisin: OH-sheen (Rhymes with clean) These according to my Irish friend If you like fierce women, witchcraft, lore, legends, murder and mystery and more, all drowning in dark fairy tale atmosphere, please check this one out!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Suzannah

    I was intrigued to read this book because I love a good gothic novel. Sadly, I didn't find what I was looking for here. Lovers of ornate prose will likely really enjoy the writing style of this book which is very detailed and vivid, but I tend to prefer writing that's a bit more sparse and to-the-point. I'm also a very plot-oriented author, and this book's plot moved extremely slowly, picking up only in the final quarter. In terms of genre, the book did something a bit strange with the traditiona I was intrigued to read this book because I love a good gothic novel. Sadly, I didn't find what I was looking for here. Lovers of ornate prose will likely really enjoy the writing style of this book which is very detailed and vivid, but I tend to prefer writing that's a bit more sparse and to-the-point. I'm also a very plot-oriented author, and this book's plot moved extremely slowly, picking up only in the final quarter. In terms of genre, the book did something a bit strange with the traditional gothic setup of a plucky heroine exploring morbid family secrets in an Ominous Mansion: we start the story in one Ominous Mansion before moving to a second, and although both of them come with interlinked history and secrets, it felt a bit frustrating to move from investigating and uncovering the secrets of one house, to investigating and uncovering the secrets of another, right when in most books you'd expect to be getting some real answers. In terms of theme, gothic novels from JANE EYRE to MEXICAN GOTHIC have used their dark secrets to comment upon the power of a single lonely woman when facing oppressive social structures, but because this gothic novel is set in a secondary world, I didn't really feel that this book had much of relevance to say. Except for the General Feminist Themes - which I wound up feeling at best confused by. Perhaps the book's greatest flaw is the lack of connection I felt with any of the characters, who all seemed rather indistinct and unpleasant. Miren, our protagonist, is a cold fish of a character who repeatedly does dubious or downright horrible things to other people, unless they are women. The world of the story felt to me like one in which evil is always repaid for evil. When an estranged friend tries to magically attack Miren, Miren responds with her own magical attack. Men are evil to Miren, so she kills them in return. Everyone in this book does terrible things, but the only characters who get serious development are the female characters, and the only characters who get anything approaching grace from the protagonist are the female antagonists. For just one example: at one point when Miren is talking to a group of women (in this world, women have magic and men are incompetent) who have been trying to use their small magics to bring fertility back to their village's barren fields, it's just casually mentioned that they were about ready to make a human sacrifice of some random young man. Stuff like this left me with the distinct impression that in this book, only women matter, while the men were treated as dismissively as my least favourite male authors treat female characters. In the end, it's revealed that Miren's mysterious mother (for whom she has been searching the whole book) has herself perpetrated a crime of power and oppression. Miren determines to set things right, but after a whole book celebrating women who use their power and agency to get what they want regardless of who is hurt in the process, any deeper message rings hollow.

  7. 5 out of 5

    ♠ Tabi⁷ ♠

    AYYY THIS IS HITTING ALL THE VIBES I LIKE

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature! All the Murmuring Bones is a darkly atmospheric tale full of folklore and a captivating story about one woman as she charts her own new path from a rather grim life. This wasn't quite what I expected it to be, and if you're looking for a story with a lot of Mer presence, then this probably isn't what you're expecting either, but I still really loved this story for what it was and the inclusion of folklore and (supernatural) elements that made it del Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature! All the Murmuring Bones is a darkly atmospheric tale full of folklore and a captivating story about one woman as she charts her own new path from a rather grim life. This wasn't quite what I expected it to be, and if you're looking for a story with a lot of Mer presence, then this probably isn't what you're expecting either, but I still really loved this story for what it was and the inclusion of folklore and (supernatural) elements that made it deliciously dark and unpredictable and full of danger at every corner. This is a tricky review to write because there's so much that I want to say, but for so many reasons I'm not sure how to say it, nor do I want to give anything away. It's not that this ia story full of twists and turns, but it is very much one meant to be experienced personally rather than told about. This story follows Miren O'Malley as she decides to take her life's path into her own path after some unexpected tragedies and the rather arduous, foreboding journey she takes to find answers about her past. Miren is a woman that I grew to love and admire for a variety of reasons. She's a bit prickly, one might say, and is not exactly the most endearing person, but her self-imposed distancing of herself from others is a result of her upbringing where she needed to be strong and aware of those who may try to take advantage of her or her remaining family. I found her caution and determination to be some of the most compelling points about her--she is rightfully fearful of many things she encounters and other various threats that pop up, but she doesn't necessarily let this fear rule her in any overwhelming manner. Miren knows what she wants, she knows what she has to do attain, and she does not stop for anyone or anything. Her growth is subtle, but present, and I am grateful to have been able to accompany her on her journey that was beautiful and difficult and went to some exceptionally dark places at times. The story is told entirely through Miren's POV, but interspersed throughout are small folklore stories that are essentially about the O'Malley family's history, especially in regards to their ties to the Mer. I loved how these stories were included and how much depth and layering they added to the world and story in general. Sometimes they were framed as stories being read by Miren's grandma, at times they were stories told by Miren to herself as a comfort, at times she told them to others, and in others she read them herself. If you like folklore stories and fairy tales, then I promise you will love this aspect! This is one of those subtly creepy books where everything just feels... off. There's something abnormal about the setting and the people and you can't always put your finger on what it is, but you know that presence of unnaturalness is present and is as much a character in this book as the people are characters. If I were to compare it to anything, I would say that some of the feelings/vibes I got from this book reminded me of ones I got from Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (though don't take the comparison too seriously, as they are fairly different stories) and I think if you liked one, you will like the other. All the Murmuring Books has a slow, careful narrative that isn't one you'll rush through because of the intense action scenes, but rather one you'll rush through because you just can't help but feel a desire to know what unpredictable and likely slightly disturbing thing is going to happen next. I will say that this book had a slower start that took me a little while to get into, but once I got a couple chapters in, I was hooked and wouldn't have stopped reading this book for anything. Lastly, I wanted to leave quick note that I learned after reading All the Murmuring Bones. This story is apparently set in the same world that Slater has written other short stories in and some of the folklore stories we get in this book are drawn from her other stories. I hadn't read any of Slater's works prior to this and I don't think I had any issues diving into this one, so I wouldn't hesitate to read this book at all in case you have heard something similar. (The benefit is that it means I need to read more of Slater's work now!) Overall, It's five stars from me! If you need a dark folklore-esque tale to round off the winter season (or any season works, really), then you should be sure to check out All the Murmuring Bones.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Karen Brooks

    Haunting tale of dark beauty The O'Malley's have ruled both Hob's Hallow the seas as far back as memories go. Powerful, fortunate and feared, as their hold on land and the deep declines, it's left to the last daughter of the blood to ensure their 'reign' continues. But Merin is not your usual kind of O'Malley. Headstrong, smart and determined to carve her own path, when her grandmother strikes a bargain to guarantee the family's future, Merin, her mother's daughter in every way, determines to mak Haunting tale of dark beauty The O'Malley's have ruled both Hob's Hallow the seas as far back as memories go. Powerful, fortunate and feared, as their hold on land and the deep declines, it's left to the last daughter of the blood to ensure their 'reign' continues. But Merin is not your usual kind of O'Malley. Headstrong, smart and determined to carve her own path, when her grandmother strikes a bargain to guarantee the family's future, Merin, her mother's daughter in every way, determines to make her own. But the consequences for breaking tradition are far greater than anyone ever realized... especially, Merin. This such an atmospheric, moody story of kinship, loss, dark deeds, and the bonds that time and myth have tightened to breaking point. Angela Slatter's prose is lustrous and rich, plunging you into this Gaelic world where monsters dream and dare to cross the threshold into the human realm. A haunting tale that with each page weaves a special kind of magic. Stunning.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Andi

    I grabbed this book because I like dark, gothic tales.... and with mermaids thrown in? Deal. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I enjoyed that there was no overdone, over-troped romance. The book focused on the main character and her quest to live her life without the interference of men. The men in this book, mind you (except for a fair few) are disgusting and controlling. I love the mermaid tales that were sprinkled throughout the book that have to do with the backstory of the f I grabbed this book because I like dark, gothic tales.... and with mermaids thrown in? Deal. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I enjoyed that there was no overdone, over-troped romance. The book focused on the main character and her quest to live her life without the interference of men. The men in this book, mind you (except for a fair few) are disgusting and controlling. I love the mermaid tales that were sprinkled throughout the book that have to do with the backstory of the family and or mermaids in general. They're not all happy and that was refreshing to me. I think I rated it down a star because I can see where some of the people who read this thought it was slow - probably because there was a lack of characters and it was her on the road. I think that I also rated it down because when she does find her love interest, he is just written rather off-handedly. Like, 'oh, here is a guy she took in with, guess they're a thing now', A 'blink and you'll miss it' romance.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Beas Chattaraj

    Deep, dark and beautiful. This is the description I am going to go with. Part Katherine Arden, part Naomi Novik and part Catherynne M Valente, it hit all the right spots for me. This is a grim (excuse my pun) fairy tale of a family with a bloody history and strange customs and pride and downfall, of the OMalleys. Miren is the last daughter, the last true O'Malley, and she is being forcefully wedded to Aidan Fitzpatrick, her cousin. When she discovers that her parents aren't dead as told to her b Deep, dark and beautiful. This is the description I am going to go with. Part Katherine Arden, part Naomi Novik and part Catherynne M Valente, it hit all the right spots for me. This is a grim (excuse my pun) fairy tale of a family with a bloody history and strange customs and pride and downfall, of the OMalleys. Miren is the last daughter, the last true O'Malley, and she is being forcefully wedded to Aidan Fitzpatrick, her cousin. When she discovers that her parents aren't dead as told to her by her grandmother, she flees Breakwater. There begins her journey and the terrible secrets she sought, unfold before her. I loved reading this book. The story was gripping and unpredictable. There was no true structure to it though. The first half was riveting, then the book slowed down and picked up pace in the last bit. Everything was neatly wrapped in the end, too neatly I think. But I absolutely enjoyed reading the book, and the stories that Miren shared from her family book- the little fairytales much like Leigh Bardugo's Language of Thorns. I recommend this if you are a looking for a unique tale of witches and mermaids, and of revenge and redemption. Definitely go for it!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    **Review originally published HERE at Sci-Fi & Scary.** I have had a streak of amazing reads so far in 2021. So when I say that All the Murmuring Bones is absolutely, without a doubt, my favourite read of the year so far, know that this means this is truly a special read. All the Murmuring Bones follows Miren, last of the true O’Malleys. The O’Malleys are an old, mysterious family, unafraid of making dark deals to ensure their line’s prosperity. When one of these dealings sees Miren’s freedom at s **Review originally published HERE at Sci-Fi & Scary.** I have had a streak of amazing reads so far in 2021. So when I say that All the Murmuring Bones is absolutely, without a doubt, my favourite read of the year so far, know that this means this is truly a special read. All the Murmuring Bones follows Miren, last of the true O’Malleys. The O’Malleys are an old, mysterious family, unafraid of making dark deals to ensure their line’s prosperity. When one of these dealings sees Miren’s freedom at stake, she takes her future into her own hands, even if it means leaving all that she knows behind. This is exactly the kind of fantasy novel I love best. Dark and rich, the writing here is the literary equivalent of velvet. The worldbuilding is also absolutely beautiful and so well-balanced; the author never resorts to info-dumps in order to immerse the reader in her world. Instead, the novel’s universe unfurls piece by piece as Miren’s journey unfolds. At first, in fact, there’s very little to suggest this novel isn’t set within our own world at some unspecified point in the past, but as the story wears on, it becomes clear that we are very much in a fantasy world, filled with witches, assassins, mermaids, and every manner of creature in between. While I adored the atmosphere of this novel, the heart of All the Murmuring Bones is Miren. While not without her flaws, Miren is a strong young woman, not afraid to fight for what she wants and her values. Her journey made for extremely compelling reading for me, and I loved watching her grapple with her identity outside of just being an O’Malley. Another really interesting element to both the plot and the worldbuilding here in this novel were the short stories interspersed throughout the main plot. Part folktale, part O’Malley family history, these stories made for fascinating building blocks to explain Miren’s family’s past, as well as the universe she exists in. The author mentions in her author’s note that these stories are versions of some of her own earlier short stories, which just further compounded that I definitely need to get my hands on more of her works! I have nothing but glowing words for this wonderful modern gothic tale. Anyone who enjoys dark fantasy with hints of horror and plenty of folkloric elements would be doing themselves a disservice by not picking up All the Murmuring Bones.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Emma Cathryne

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book felt like it was trying to be a lot of things: a dark fairytale, a gothic horror, a feminist commentary; but didn't really quite succeed at being any of them. It won the most points for me with regards to the fairy tale aspects: A.G. Slatter is certainly a stunning prose writer, and a lot of the language here was lovely. My favorite parts were the ones that leaned the heaviest into the folkloric theme Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book felt like it was trying to be a lot of things: a dark fairytale, a gothic horror, a feminist commentary; but didn't really quite succeed at being any of them. It won the most points for me with regards to the fairy tale aspects: A.G. Slatter is certainly a stunning prose writer, and a lot of the language here was lovely. My favorite parts were the ones that leaned the heaviest into the folkloric themes, such as the short interludes of stories from Miren's book and her encounters with various creatures. However, it was less successful with its gothic atmosphere and even less so with its feminist message. The first half of the novel and the second half of the novel felt like funhouse mirrors of each other: exploring one dark, mysterious house is fun enough but it gets a little repetitive when the protagonist rolls up to the second one. I also took a lot of issue with the "feminist" messages going on here: EVERY single other woman in this novel besides the protagonist was villanized, demonized, or set against Miren in some way. Furthermore, my BIGGEST pet peeve in novels is when fatness is used as a way to degrade female characters in comparison to the protagonist. Both Nelly and Brigid are described as larger than Miren (who we are reminded frequently is beautiful, tall, and slender) and are implied to be at various times villanous, cowardly, shallow, and overall lesser people than our protagonist, even if Brigid gets a rapid and somewhat confusing redemption arc. It really rubs me the wrong way when a novel claiming to be feminist not only lacks ANY (obvious) women of color but also puts down every other woman in the vicinity in order to put the protagonist on a pedestal. Generally this book had a lot of really interesting ideas, but the world-building beyond immediate locations felt frustratingly vague and the characters and themes left something to be desired. TW for gruesome infant death in particular

  14. 5 out of 5

    Pixie's Book Den

    All the Murmuring Bones is a haunting book that slowly creeps up to you and pulls you under it's calm surface, where dark fairytales and chilling horrors await. Set in a fantasy 19th century irish setting, where magic exists, but is an old, almost forgotten thing, while gruesome mythical creatures and spirits remain. The story begins in a small village by the sea, home of a girl, who is the last heir of a once influental and powerful lineage, that is said to be connected to the powers of the ocea All the Murmuring Bones is a haunting book that slowly creeps up to you and pulls you under it's calm surface, where dark fairytales and chilling horrors await. Set in a fantasy 19th century irish setting, where magic exists, but is an old, almost forgotten thing, while gruesome mythical creatures and spirits remain. The story begins in a small village by the sea, home of a girl, who is the last heir of a once influental and powerful lineage, that is said to be connected to the powers of the ocean itself. She has lived a secluded life at the whims of her grandparents, who have raised her in what remains of the crumbling family manor, until a string of events force her to make an escape from her destined lot, while gradually unravelling the mysteries of her heritance. It's been a while that I read such an utterly impressive standalone novel, I was completely entranced by the eerie gothic atmosphere and the folkloric tone, that made me feel like I was reading a modern classic. Throughout the beautifully written story there are many passages of unnerving, reimagined fairytales, surrounding mystical sea creatures and celtic folklore, that are part of the protagonist's family history. I loved absolutely everything about this book. It has elaborate, fantastic worldbuilding and an intricate mystery plot, full of surprising twists, drama and intrigue, with all the pieces fitting together perfectly in the end. The writing stlye was enchanting and I fell in love with the tragic, morally grey heroine, who was cunning, clever and very relateable in her thoughts and actions. Following her process of emancipation through her adventures and the creatures she encounters on them, was an enthralling experience. I had difficulties putting the book down and I have no complaints whatsoever. It was an amazing read for me and I would definitely recommend it to all fans of the Winternight trilogy, Naomi Novik's fairytale retellings or anyone who enjoys gloomy, atmospheric literature. Thank you so much to Netgalley and Titan Books for providing me with an eARC for this amazing book!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    This is such a delicious gothic fairy tale. Does it make sense to use delicious here? It's definitely consuming. The O'Malley's have always lived in Hobs Hallow at the edge of the sea, reaping the sea's rewards from, it is rumored, unnatural means. Their wealth was legendary once upon a time, but now Mirin is the last O'Malley. When her grandparents die, she finds clues that indicate her mother is still alive. With an unwanted suitor at her heels, she flees Hobs Hallow to try and find her parents This is such a delicious gothic fairy tale. Does it make sense to use delicious here? It's definitely consuming. The O'Malley's have always lived in Hobs Hallow at the edge of the sea, reaping the sea's rewards from, it is rumored, unnatural means. Their wealth was legendary once upon a time, but now Mirin is the last O'Malley. When her grandparents die, she finds clues that indicate her mother is still alive. With an unwanted suitor at her heels, she flees Hobs Hallow to try and find her parents, but that only leads her to another house with secrets hidden in fairy tales. I loved the ambiance of this novel. It drew me right in, and I never wanted to put the book down. I also loved the fairy tales. If you liked The Hazel Wood, Mexican Gothic, and The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, then this is a must-read for you. I wish it were out now so I could force more people to read it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kal ★ Reader Voracious

    You may or may not know this about me, dear reader, but I am addicted to mermaids and I love Gothic fiction. So naturally when Titan contacted me about this book I jumped on it so fast. All the Murmuring Bones truly is 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." I adored this intensely feminist tale and watching fairy tales come to life in a way. "Other families have stories of c You may or may not know this about me, dear reader, but I am addicted to mermaids and I love Gothic fiction. So naturally when Titan contacted me about this book I jumped on it so fast. All the Murmuring Bones truly is 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." I adored this intensely feminist tale and watching fairy tales come to life in a way. "Other families have stories of curses, cold lads and white ladies, but we have old gods, merfolk and monsters. I never doubted, when I was little, that these stories were true. Now, less a child, I'm not too sure." The story of the O'Malleys is shrouded in mystery: to the public, to the reader, to our main character Miren. I absolutely adored how the book opens with a "fairytale narrator" feel, talking about the rumors and half truths; about a once prosperous family and estate have fallen into decay and dwindling numbers. There is a lot woven together in this tapestry of worldbuilding, half-truths and outright lies, which can make for a confusing reading experience at first. "It's the name, you see, the name that carries value and no one's ever thought twice about making the non-O'Malley's feel bad about their lack." In true Gothic fashion, All the Murmuring Bones deeply explores themes of purity and decay. The estate is in shambles as the O'Malley money dried up and their inexplainable luck wore out, and at the start of the book Miren and her grandmother are the only remaining O'Malleys in a once illustrious family. "How many times can a line fold back on itself without bringing forth a monster?" I know I mention this in my content warnings, but it bears mentioning here in the review: incest and blood purity are important to the plot and mentioned often. The incest is challenged/questioned by the narrative and Miren (not condoned in present but that's how it has Always Been in the past), but it is brought up frequently because the only True O'Malleys are the ones within the tight family tree - think of it along the lines of a monarchy family tree. "There's an old woman, though, with plans and plots of long gestation; and there's the sea, which will have her die, come hell or high water; and there are secrets and lies which never stay buried forever." Poor Miren is 18-years old and the fate of her family's legacy seems to be thrust at her feet. Once her grandfather passes away, her grandmother Aoife becomes determined to restore the family's past glory... by marriage and children. But the last thing she wants is to be married to a man, let alone the cruel one her grandmother has chosen. She wants her freedom and sets off on an adventure to reclaim some of her own past and set her own destiny, but things are never that easy. "How can one run away when all the waters in the world are joined?" I'll admit that I struggled quite a bit with the first quarter of the book: there is a lot of lore and information floated around, sometimes as fact but mere anecdotes, and I found myself rather confused about what was going on and the direction of the story. Once Miren sets off from Hob's Head the plot thankfully picks up and all those threads start coming together. Typical of Gothic fiction, All the Murmuring Bones has a slow start; however, for me I struggled not with the pacing but with how information is initially conveyed. This is very much a "Me Thing" and stylistic preference because I am a very analytical reader and like to understand things as I go. "Like so many men, he takes good fortune for granted and only questions it when it is gone." Power, control, and authority are central themes explored in the book. For Miren and the female members of her family it is a lack of that power and autonomy over their own lives; but interestingly there was a time in the family's past where women held the authority. (I do wish that had been explored a bit more, now that I think of it!) The book is intensely feminist and highlights the "invisible" work women put into running the home (and world) yet are taken for granted. It is no coincidence that the ones who have the actual power are women, but men claim the control. "You claim what you can endure from your once-life and burn the rest." While I didn't necessarily fall in love with any of the characters, there are some warm moments and I appreciate Miren's development in how she reclaims things from her past that mean something and discard the rest. About processing and moving beyond trauma, and her case generational trauma. "The water smells awful, not like the sea off Hob's Head, which is clean and salty. This is contaminated by humanity; a greasy sheen lies across the brownish, brackish liquid." The book is pretty atmospheric in tone and does an excellent job of painting a picture for the reader. There are more monsters than of the human (male) and merfolk variety, though. On Miren's travels she encounters some haunting creatures that made my skin crawl. The book itself isn't necessarily horrific, but it has its moments of fright. Overall I really enjoyed All the Murmuring Bones and once it really got going I had a difficulty putting it down. If this book sounds interesting to you and you give it a try but struggle a little with the start, try to give the book until 30% before DNFing it. Content warnings: bsent and emotionally distant parents, abuse, body horror, captivity, death, gore, incest, loss of a loved one, murder, obsession with blood purity, sacrifice, sexism, suicidal thoughts, violence ARC provided by the publisher for my honest review. This has not affected my opinion of the book nor the content of my review. Quotations are from an unfinished proof and are subject to change upon final publication. Blog | Twitter | Pinterest

  17. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne (It's All About Books)

    Finished reading: February 27th 2021 "Stories are history, whether they're true or not." *** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Titan Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! *** (view spoiler)[ I had such high hopes for this story as I loved the sound of a gothic mermaid fairy tale, but I personally feel that this is mostly false advertisement if I'm honest. As a result, I ended up feeing extremely disappointed by All The Murmuring Bones; this story i Finished reading: February 27th 2021 "Stories are history, whether they're true or not." *** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Titan Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! *** (view spoiler)[ I had such high hopes for this story as I loved the sound of a gothic mermaid fairy tale, but I personally feel that this is mostly false advertisement if I'm honest. As a result, I ended up feeing extremely disappointed by All The Murmuring Bones; this story is mainly a really slow paced and character driven historical read where the fairy tale part only pops up sporadically until well into the story. Not what I had signed up for at all, and the story I did find sadly didn't work for me either. I'll try to further explain my feelings briefly below. I already mentioned the lack of gothic fairy tale vibe and other 'magical' elements in general, but this was one of the things that I was really disappointed by if I'm honest. I expected to be mesmerized by mermaids and Irish folklore being woven into a magical story, but instead it's mostly a slow historical read where the main character keeps moaning about how bad her family treated her. Most of the fairy tale elements are simply stories that have been in the O'Malley family for a long time, and the 'real' fairy tale elements don't start to pop up until well into the story... And if I'm honest it's a miracle that I even made it that far. Oh yes, sadly I've been debating whether to just DNF instead for a long time, and in a way I still wish I did... Because while the second half of the story was slightly better and felt at least a bit more like the gothic mermaid fairy tale that I was promised, I don't think it actually made up for the initial disappointments. I think I kept reading to learn more about the Irish folklore stories more than anything, but as a whole All The Murmuring Bones wasn't what I expected, and not in a good way. I wasn't really a fan of the writing or characters either. Miren is such an annoying main character that I simply couldn't connect to despite her supposedly being strong and resourceful. Her constant complaining and interactions with others just really got on my nerves... Which didn't really help making me feel better about the story itself either of course. The rest of the cast was a bit of a mixed bag, but as a whole for a mostly character driven story I don't think they were developed enough or at least sufficiently realistic. As a whole, sadly I didn't exactly have a positive experience with All The Murmuring Bones despite having such high expectations for it. I still like the premise, but the actual story didn't deliver what promised and I came close to DNFing more than once. It was definitely a miss for me, but a lot of people do seem to react to it more positively so don't give up on my account if you think it sounds like your cup of tea. (hide spoiler)] P.S. Find more of my reviews here.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Georgia Husselbee

    3.5 stars *Thank you to NetGalley and Titan Books who provided me with an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.* I have to say I was a little bit disappointed with this book. After seeing the cover and reading the synopsis, I was so excited when I got accepted to read this as I thought the storyline would go in a different direction than it did. The very first chapter felt like a bit of a backstory to the O’Malley’s and I almost feel like it would’ve been labelled better as a prologue. The overall 3.5 stars *Thank you to NetGalley and Titan Books who provided me with an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.* I have to say I was a little bit disappointed with this book. After seeing the cover and reading the synopsis, I was so excited when I got accepted to read this as I thought the storyline would go in a different direction than it did. The very first chapter felt like a bit of a backstory to the O’Malley’s and I almost feel like it would’ve been labelled better as a prologue. The overall start of All the Murmuring Bones was slow, and I wanted a bit more action to begin with to get me hooked into the story. The story picked up for me in the second half and I enjoyed that a lot more than the first. As I said earlier, it was not at all where I thought the story was going to go. Whilst the mer were weaved into the story, they did not have as much involvement as I thought they would, which was one of the things I was looking forward to. This book involved more running away from the mer than actually dealing with them. If you are reading this for mermaids, then in my opinion it is not worth it, as that is not what this book is about. ‘There was something not quite right with the O’Malleys: they didn’t fear like others of their ilk.’ Despite this, the story was interesting and unique. I liked the folkloric elements and the involvement of the kelpie, and also witchcraft. However, these felt more like additions to the story than major players. I enjoyed the world building aspect and created images in my mind of the beautiful but dark mansion, compared to a better lit mansion in the second half. The writing of this was beautiful but not necessarily something I’m used to, as I found the pacing to be quite slow, which made me lose interest at different parts of the story. ‘They cannot burn every single woman, tempting though it might be.’ After Miren’s grandfather dies, her grandmother, Aoife, plans for her to marry a distant cousin, Aiden, in order to keep the O’Malley bloodline strong. Aiden is very handsy and controlling and Miren is completely against this marriage. I liked the storyline of Miren escaping wicked men and becoming her own strong independent woman, which continued through to the end of the book. I felt like there was a sudden change in Miren’s character from the first few chapters where she appears in a way submissive. After the announcement of this marriage, she begins to take on aspects that are normally seen in morally grey characters, (which I love). This book felt like a journey of finding yourself, independent to your family, and creating a story for you. ‘It makes me wonder how can anyone escape such creatures when all waters in the world are joined?’ There were some twists that I was not expecting that helped maintain my interest. However, I found this hard to follow at times and it did not grip me as much as I wanted it to. I think my expectations for this book were too high as I was left feeling disappointed when it did not deliver the amazing book I wished to read. This book had so much potential, and I did enjoy it but I didn’t love it. For people who like slow paced, beautifully and intricately written books, this is for you!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

    “There was salt in her veins just as there is in mine. The sea mourns when we die, we female O’Malleys, for whatever reason. Perhaps because we produce the children, the tithe we feed to the waters. Perhaps that’s why we are a loss. And all the waters in the world are joined.” Rating: Really Enjoyed, translates to 4 stars This book was such a fantastic read. I read through it really slowly because I have had an insane week at work, but if I had had the chance to just sit and devour it, I’m sure I “There was salt in her veins just as there is in mine. The sea mourns when we die, we female O’Malleys, for whatever reason. Perhaps because we produce the children, the tithe we feed to the waters. Perhaps that’s why we are a loss. And all the waters in the world are joined.” Rating: Really Enjoyed, translates to 4 stars This book was such a fantastic read. I read through it really slowly because I have had an insane week at work, but if I had had the chance to just sit and devour it, I’m sure I could have done it in an evening. It is compulsively readable and deliciously dark and atmospheric. What is it about? This is a story following Miren O’Malley. She is the last of her family’s “pure” bloodline, and that is a thing that is to be prized. Her family used to be one that was bountiful and found success above all others, but it has fallen into debt and ruin. She lives with her grandparents on a dilapidated estate, waiting patiently for the time to come when she will be free of her obligations to the family name. However, Miren’s grandmother has other plans for her, and Miren must find a way to remain free. What I liked: - There is an element of the fantastical and monstrous woven throughout the base story. The O’Malley family has a book that is filled with accounts from their ancestors about how different events came to happen. These tales are filled with creatures, such as mer, selkies, sea queens, and all a manner of maritime folklore. This was EASILY my favorite part of the book. The LORE was phenomenal. Probably one of, if not the best, book I have read to date that incorporates tales of these creatures. I feel like usually they end up being cheesy romance stories that I despise, but this! No, this was certainly not that. This has all the darkness that a lot of those original tales hold. The lore that makes up Miren’s family history is dark and twisty and intertwines seamlessly with the story as it progresses. It was so perfectly atmospheric and just incredibly well-executed. I LOVED IT. - I loved seeing Miren’s growth throughout the book as well. She dealt so well with all a manner of fantastical creatures as she makes her way through the story. It was fantastic. There are elements of witches, curses, corpses reanimating, ghosts, and it’s just so fun watching her navigate everything. I wouldn’t say that her character has the depth I normally look for in favorite characters, but the setting of this book more than made up for that. - I felt like some of the twists I saw coming, but others I did not, and I was left guessing right up to the reveal, which I absolutely love! So that was another element that I really appreciated in this story. What I didn’t like: - I felt like at times, there was more of a leaning towards telling rather than showing, but part of that just seems to go along with a first person POV. It wasn’t over the top, and the setting and the lore more than made up for it. - There was a lot of repetition of certain ideas and phrases. Some of the times, like with the idea that all the waters of the world are joined, it just added to the folktale feel of the story. But other repetitions ended up feeling like an unnecessary reminder in case we didn’t catch it the first several times. This was not a huge complaint, but something that did end up pulling me out of the story from time to time. - My only other big complaint was that I didn’t connect to the characters very strongly. It didn’t feel like they had enough depth for my tastes. Now normally this is a MAJOR issue for me and I will walk away from a book feeling that it was fun but forgettable or just alright. So this should be an indication of how phenomenal the world building and lore is! I truly loved it. So. Overall, I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys folklore, dark and atmospheric world building, and/or stories to do with the sea. All the Murmuring Bones releases March 9, 2021. Thank you to NetGalley and Titan Books for the opportunity to read this eArc in return for an honest review. This did not in any way influence my opinions. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Full review to come in March (held until then per publisher's request), but I loved this book! It was such a fun read, and I will definitely be checking out this author's other works! I received an e-Arc from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my rating of the book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jackie ϟ Bookseller

    I received an ARC of this title from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 3/5 stars: ★★★☆☆ "You claim what you can endure from your once-life and burn the rest." All the Murmuring Bones begins as a tale of a family whose powers began with a bargain that ties them to the sea and its mer people. The bargain itself is left mostly a mystery to the reader and main character, Miren, but involves sacrificing a child of each generation to the sea in order to ensure the family's con I received an ARC of this title from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 3/5 stars: ★★★☆☆ "You claim what you can endure from your once-life and burn the rest." All the Murmuring Bones begins as a tale of a family whose powers began with a bargain that ties them to the sea and its mer people. The bargain itself is left mostly a mystery to the reader and main character, Miren, but involves sacrificing a child of each generation to the sea in order to ensure the family's continued wealth and success. But when fewer and fewer children are born, and the tithe can no longer be paid for some time, the family is left destitute, and only Miren and her cunning grandmother survive. This leaves Miren, young and unwed, vulnerable, and enemies begin to circle what little remains of the family's power, though most do not know its price. Miren must fight to free herself from her family's dark past, or drown in it. This book reminds me of a combination between Mexican Gothic and The Hazel Wood. While it feels like it's being sold as a mermaid-heavy fantasy (and that is, I'll admit, what I expected it to be), it is actually a gothic mystery in which a young heroine seeks to uncover the secrets of her family. There is death, murder, violence, strange magics, and plenty of magical creatures like those of Katherine Arden's The Bear and the Nightingale. The presence of merpeople, while consistent, is also relatively rare and only becomes a major plot point in the final few chapters. Okay, now for the structure. This was slow at times, and I didn't like very many of the characters. I also think it needed a little more editing- some plot points could have been cut out entirely (random magical encounters surely helped to set the fantasy scene, but I also wish they were used a bit more meaningfully), while more character development and background would probably have been useful (Miren is so clever, and her ability to learn by observation is mentioned here and there, but she still seemed a little too street-smart for having been raised in a mansion). This was a nice read, but I was a bit disappointed by what it was actually about (not merpeople), and I had to convince myself to keep reading for most of the first half. I also want to say that I did love the fact that this was not bogged down by any romance, and that in fact, there was little to no romance at all. THANK YOU. Anyway, that is all I will say about that because I don't want to spoil anything, but I want readers to know because merpeople have been so trendy lately- you will get some mer-lore, but not an entire book about them. What you will get is a story of a young girl escaping the fate chosen for her who then gets swept up into a murder/magical mystery, told via a winding, creative, if not a little long-winded (but still well-written) gothic fantasy that is more gothic than fantasy.

  21. 5 out of 5

    El Hyrst

    Full review available on my blog March 4th 2021: https://inkandplasma.com/2021/03/04/a... Thanks to W.F. Howes for the Audiobook Review Copy of this book. It has not affected my honest review. Content Warnings: murder (adult and child), forced marriage, incest, abuse, child sacrifice. So I once again did that thing I do where I instantly request something without reading the summary, solely because Andee recommended it to me. And once again, it worked out so, so well. I absolutely adored this book Full review available on my blog March 4th 2021: https://inkandplasma.com/2021/03/04/a... Thanks to W.F. Howes for the Audiobook Review Copy of this book. It has not affected my honest review. Content Warnings: murder (adult and child), forced marriage, incest, abuse, child sacrifice. So I once again did that thing I do where I instantly request something without reading the summary, solely because Andee recommended it to me. And once again, it worked out so, so well. I absolutely adored this book. I received an audiobook review copy and I listened to it in one sitting, unable to put it down for a second. It’s not an easy read by any means, but if you enjoy dark historical fantasy, I highly recommend it. Miren O’Malley has always known that mer are real. The O’Malley family sacrifice their children to them in return for safety and prosperity, but since the death of Miren’s mother, that deal has gone unkept and so the family’s fortunes are declining. Fortunately, Miren’s grandmother has a way to fix that. Unfortunately, that way involves marrying Miren off to Aidan Fitzpatrick, her distant cousin and all-around arsehole. Fortunately, Miren’s grandmother dies before the marriage can happen. And everything that happens after that? Unfortunate to the very end. All the Murmuring Bones is a gothic fairytale, and the atmosphere throughout is absolutely impeccable. If you like books that lean hard into atmosphere and vibes to create a sense of horror, you’ll enjoy this one. The world is full of magic, whether that’s small magic like the little castings that women can do or big magic like the existence of merfolk, ghosts and kelpies. This magic is threaded throughout and I really enjoyed the way that it was knotted into an otherwise familiar historical setting. I also absolutely loved Miren’s repeated insistence that she wasn’t a witch before she cast some little casting or spell, all based on the fact that misogynistic men would see women’s magic as evil witchcraft and burn them for it – so instead women kept things secret and labelled them traditions instead of magic. It felt really authentic and despite the fact that this is a fantasy world, it did feel like A.G. Slatter had done some loving research into the time period. Miren was the focus of the story, and very much the highlight of it. She might technically count as this fairytale’s damsel in distress, but she’s not much interested in being rescued. I will forever be weak for women who save themselves and Miren is dedicated to doing exactly that. Despite the actions she’s ready and willing to take to save herself from an unwanted marriage and the machinations of some truly awful men, Miren always feels good at her core. It makes her easy to love and trust as a protagonist, because I always felt like she was doing her best. I was rooting for her, I wanted her to be safe and happy because that’s what she deserved, and there were several points where I would have been very willing to kill certain men to protect her. I can’t wait to get a paperback copy of this one on release, as I know I’ll come back to this story again when it’s dark and cold outside and I need some gothic magic to curl up with.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    All the Murmuring Bones is a modern gothic-style fairytale with a dark and sinister atmosphere. There is a marvellous blend of fairytale, folklore and magic and you get the sense you are reading an old fairytale, immediately drawn into the wonderful atmosphere created by the author. The whimsical short stories sprinkled at various intervals throughout the story are genius and added to the folkloric feel. The author’s writing style is detailed and evocative, the world is beautifully described and All the Murmuring Bones is a modern gothic-style fairytale with a dark and sinister atmosphere. There is a marvellous blend of fairytale, folklore and magic and you get the sense you are reading an old fairytale, immediately drawn into the wonderful atmosphere created by the author. The whimsical short stories sprinkled at various intervals throughout the story are genius and added to the folkloric feel. The author’s writing style is detailed and evocative, the world is beautifully described and I conjured up some lovely vivid images of the setting and dark ocean underworld. It’s a winding, twisty tale which is engaging and compelling. The plot is intricate and there is a wonderful mystery to solve. Set in a 19th Century Irish setting the first few chapters establishes the family dynamics and we learn about the history of the O’Malleys. The O’Malley’s are a family who were once influential and powerful, a family who were not afraid to make dark deals to ensure their family’s prosperity and the continuance of their family’s bloodline. These initial chapters explaining the family’s history are interesting and set the tone for the rest of the novel. I enjoy reading a book where the lead protagonist goes on a journey and this didn’t disappoint. We follow Miren, the last true O’Malley, on her quest to find her long lost parents and escape the clutches of Aidan Fitzpatrick and her imminent forced marriage to him. Under cover of darkness, she leaves Hob’s Hallow on her journey to find Blackwater, a mysterious place ‘somewhere in the north’ that no one seems to have heard of and where she believes her parents now live. We come across some fearsome creatures and bone-chilling encounters along the way. Although slow paced the story is beautifully constructed and the author takes the time to explore the world and unfurl the story piecemeal and it isn’t until the remaining few chapters that the real mystery is uncovered. There was enough going on to hold my interest and it didn’t feel drawn out. I loved the dark, brooding and unpredictable atmosphere which was not ‘too dark’ to be dispiriting. The world building is wonderful and I enjoyed reading about all the sea and land dwelling creatures and spirits. The Kelpie in particular stole my heart and I loved that he became a part of the story joining forces with Miren at the end of her journey. There is an automaton called Delphine, who is unbelievably creepy and who in all likelihood has a trapped soul within her. Delphine plays a very minor part in the story and I was slightly disappointed as I was expecting her to play a more pivotal role. There is a nice mix of characters both good and evil. In particular I enjoyed Miren’s character development she started off as an amiable almost submissive character, but as the story progresses there is a shift in her persona and we see a more ruthless and headstrong, bordering on violent side to her, and she becomes a strong young woman with purpose. The ending is gratifying, all the pieces fitted together perfectly. A really enjoyable read and one I would recommend if you enjoy stories with a journey of self discovery and dark, twisty tales of witchcraft, mythological creatures and magic. Thank you to the publisher for an early review copy via Netgalley and for inviting me on the blog tour.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Donna Bull

    A haunting, dark, gothic fairy-tale journey. Angela Slatter weaves a tale of the sea, mythic creatures, magic, silver, loss, abandonment, and family secrets into a story that keeps you turning the pages. It is also the story of one woman's fight to live her life on her terms and not that of others. You are pulled into Miren's life and that of the O'Malley's, a once proud and wealthy family who have fallen on hard times. Then you begin to find out that the O'Malley's aren't quite like any other fa A haunting, dark, gothic fairy-tale journey. Angela Slatter weaves a tale of the sea, mythic creatures, magic, silver, loss, abandonment, and family secrets into a story that keeps you turning the pages. It is also the story of one woman's fight to live her life on her terms and not that of others. You are pulled into Miren's life and that of the O'Malley's, a once proud and wealthy family who have fallen on hard times. Then you begin to find out that the O'Malley's aren't quite like any other family having made a bargain with the sea that has brought them riches and in equal measure, sacrifices. Miren is the last female O'Malley and her grandmother will do anything to bring fortune back to the family including marrying Miren to her devious cousin Aidan. Miren will do anything to get away from Aidan and a marriage she doesn't want and a family tragedy gives her the impetuous to run away. The journey Miren embarks on reveals long kept family secrets and forces Miren to face the truth of her own past and what lengths she will go to to escape that past. This story is a wonderful blend of fairy tale stories and magic, and I really loved the O'Malley stories that Miren tells from the family book. You will recognize familiar themes from tales like Grimm's fairy tales and others and it makes for such a spooky, stark and at times creepy soundtrack to this inventive story. Through these tales the story explores so many themes of loss, strength, abandonment, and the willingness to let things go. Miren is a strong woman who decides she will not let her family's past determine all that she will be. The characters are captivating, fully realized and the world that has been created here is marvelous. Some of my favorite parts were the automaton Delphine and the kelpie horse. Magic always has a price and the price that the O'Malley's have paid over time is devastating. Such a gripping, yet at times sad story that will surely stay with you long after the last page. Recommended for readers who enjoy gothic, dark, stories involving magic, mythical creatures and journeys of self discovery. A wonderful tale. This ARC was provided by NetGalley and Titan Books

  24. 4 out of 5

    J.A. Ironside

    Audio ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review Audio review first. I already love Aoife McMahon's narration style and she was the perfect choice for this book. This book was everything I wanted in an Irish inspired original fairytale - ambiguous morality, fantastical creatures, a sensible, cunning and clever heroine and an ancient bargain made with the sea. I really don't want to spoil anything by going into too much detail, but Miram is a great character. I love the fact that in Audio ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review Audio review first. I already love Aoife McMahon's narration style and she was the perfect choice for this book. This book was everything I wanted in an Irish inspired original fairytale - ambiguous morality, fantastical creatures, a sensible, cunning and clever heroine and an ancient bargain made with the sea. I really don't want to spoil anything by going into too much detail, but Miram is a great character. I love the fact that in the 'clever Janet' vein of fairy tales, she's willing to do whatever is necessary to achieve her aims. She's cunning and intelligent and ruthless, but not harmful to anyone who doesn't mean her harm. The O'Malley's have lived a charmed live in a huge house on the cliffs for centuries. But now their great wealth and influence is fading and the house crumbles as if all the family luck has fled. Growing up under the watchful and pitiless eye of her grandmother, Miram learns to be very self possessed and a little deceptive to get what she wants. Until she finally discovered how her grandmother intends to revive their flagging fortunes, and realises her freedom might be at stake. Forced to take matters into her own hands, Miram embarks on a journey, leaving the house on the cliffs and everything she's known. From there she encounters strange creatures and deathly secrets as she unravels the myths behind her family and the O'Malley name. This was brilliant. Cleverly written, replete with dark fairy tale motifs and Celtic monsters. If you're expecting the sanitised version of fairy tales, this may not be for you. If you enjoy the dark originals, especially the rather bleak Irish fairytales, this will be right up your street. Highly recommend.

  25. 4 out of 5

    AitziST

    Once upon a time, there was a girl in an old house, surrounded by old legends, and songs, and promises. Her name was Miren O’Malley, the last of them all. The O’Malleys had been a prosperous family. Too prosperous, if one believes what was told about them. But time had not been kind, and the last of the O’Malleys could be the one to pay the price. Once upon a time, there was a girl in an old house, surrounded by blood, death and whispers. And all she wanted was her freedom… I can’t really say what Once upon a time, there was a girl in an old house, surrounded by old legends, and songs, and promises. Her name was Miren O’Malley, the last of them all. The O’Malleys had been a prosperous family. Too prosperous, if one believes what was told about them. But time had not been kind, and the last of the O’Malleys could be the one to pay the price. Once upon a time, there was a girl in an old house, surrounded by blood, death and whispers. And all she wanted was her freedom… I can’t really say what made me choose ‘All the Murmuring Bones’ among all the readings I had in mind for this year. One could say there really was a mermaid song singing specifically to me. And even if the singing kind of faded towards the ending, I am really happy I made this choice. I can say without any doubt that the first chapter, the story of the O’Malley family, was one of the best beginnings I read in a while. It set the tone to perfection, made me as a reader become involved with the fate of some people that were suddenly (in just a couple of pages!) very interesting to me. I loved to learn about their prosperous days, but also about the beginning of the end. And then, Miren was presented to me, and I was very intrigued, because I wasn’t sure whether she would be able to fulfil all that I wanted in a protagonist after such a presentation, but she was, and she also surprised me more than once. And I believe she surprised herself as well, a trait that made her more real than any other character in the novel. Some of them kind of felt like drawings left unfinished, which is curious if we bear in mind the length of the story. The pace changed a lot as well. The beginning was amazing, left me as a reader unable to put the book down. I just wanted to know more, wanted to see more. I was discovering a world that seemed quite similar to ours, but had some characteristics that made it irresistible. The mythology was rich and presented in little drops. Just in the perfect moment. However, it reached a moment when the story began to drag, to feel too slow. Sadly, I must admit it took a toll in my reading and in my involvement with the story and when it got interesting again it felt kind of rushed, and left me with a bittersweet savour when the end arrived. Nevertheless, I think I’d love to come back to this world, to find out more about its creatures and its people. And I would not mind if Miren was there to show me first-hand. ***I received a free review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest unedited feedback***

  26. 5 out of 5

    MarthaSquishy

    Thank you to NetGalley and Titan Books for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the Murmuring Bones follows Miren O’Malley who comes from an ancient and powerful family who struck a dangerous deal with the mer, prosperity in exchange for a child from each generation. However, after many years of not fulfilling the bargain, the O’Malleys are left only with tales of their now faded glory and Miren’s grandmother will trade anything to see it returned. I really enjoyed Thank you to NetGalley and Titan Books for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the Murmuring Bones follows Miren O’Malley who comes from an ancient and powerful family who struck a dangerous deal with the mer, prosperity in exchange for a child from each generation. However, after many years of not fulfilling the bargain, the O’Malleys are left only with tales of their now faded glory and Miren’s grandmother will trade anything to see it returned. I really enjoyed this story, I am a massive fan of creepy merfolk, and sinister folklore and I really loved the way that folklore was used throughout the story. Miren is forced to go on an adventure packed with folkloric encounters. I am not generally a reader who loves too much travel time in books unless I adore the characters, however, I didn’t find that there was too much just riding a horse or walking and we only got specific scenes that were interesting or spooky along the way. I have found out since reading that Slatter is expanding upon a world she has explored in collections of her writing and will be expanding further in another novel and with the hindsight of this information, I now understand the feeling in this novel that we are only seeing a small part of a much larger world. Concerning my understanding of the expansion of the world, the O’Malleys have a book of family legends and tales. Some of which, I learnt from the author’s note, are from/ inspired by Slatter’s previous works. I really enjoyed reading the tales that Miren will have grown up with. They were often linked to what’s happening in Miren’s story at the time and I liked gaining an insight into the lore of the family, through this there is a sense of the history that we are told the O’Malleys have and I enjoyed getting to experience that rather than just be told. That being said, though I felt a strong connection to the world-building and the lore of the O’Malleys I found Miren to be a difficult character to feel bonded to. She isn’t dislikeable and is sympathetic, however, I didn’t feel like I was truly getting to know her despite being in her head with the first-person narration. I think I would have appreciated a little more insight into Miren’s plots and thoughts as even though we are sometimes left in suspense for a surprise later in the narrative, it’s hard to feel totally bonded when missing out so much of the plotting. Overall, I really enjoyed the story and the mystery held within and would be very keen to read more from the world.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Aida

    That’s a lie, I actually DNF this book at 75%. But I think that I’ve read enough to form an opinion. This book just wasn’t what I expected. Based on the cover and sinopsis one would think “oh, mermaids!”, well no. Besides some appearances and short stories there are NO mermaids. The only think I liked about the book was the kind of dark fairytale atmosphere that it has. But the story is just so dragged out that I couldn’t continue. First, in my opinion the author fails to create a connection betwee That’s a lie, I actually DNF this book at 75%. But I think that I’ve read enough to form an opinion. This book just wasn’t what I expected. Based on the cover and sinopsis one would think “oh, mermaids!”, well no. Besides some appearances and short stories there are NO mermaids. The only think I liked about the book was the kind of dark fairytale atmosphere that it has. But the story is just so dragged out that I couldn’t continue. First, in my opinion the author fails to create a connection between the reader and the main character (which name I forgot a few times). Then we have the “dangers” she encounters in the road, some of them provided nothing to the story. I’m blaming the detachment from Miren (the main character) on the writing style. It was weird, too flourish and it just evoked a sense of disconnection with the story. So yeah, I did not enjoy this book and I tried. I tried to finish it but I was feeling a readers block coming so i’m just not finishing it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    A Gothic tale involving sea creatures? All the Murmuring Bones by AG Slatter was an absolute must-read for me. A once powerful and prosperous family, still proud, has fallen on difficult times. Miren's grandmother is determined to restore the O'Malleys to what they once were. To do that, she's willing to wed Miren to a distant but wealthy cousin. But Miren has other ideas. The writing is gorgeously Baroque - ornate and polished paired with a Gothic folktale of a story. A shadow drenched, decaying A Gothic tale involving sea creatures? All the Murmuring Bones by AG Slatter was an absolute must-read for me. A once powerful and prosperous family, still proud, has fallen on difficult times. Miren's grandmother is determined to restore the O'Malleys to what they once were. To do that, she's willing to wed Miren to a distant but wealthy cousin. But Miren has other ideas. The writing is gorgeously Baroque - ornate and polished paired with a Gothic folktale of a story. A shadow drenched, decaying mansion full of long hidden, terrible family secrets like murder, ritual sacrifice and incest, a young girl unwilling to be sold into marriage, witchcraft, the Church, and the terrible magic of sea creatures. All the Murmuring Bones has it all. Full of sea creatures, they're from nightmares not sweet stories of silent, loving mermaids. Cold, seeking retribution and flesh - these are horrors of the sea and they're angry with the O'Malleys. And they're willing to make Miren pay for her family's many sins. While lots of things happen, this isn't a fast-action fantasy. Revelations and slow horrified realizations are what make up the story. In trying to escape her fate, Miren discovers truths to debunk the lies she's been told her entire life. Those truths lead her on a dangerous journey of discovery. Miren discovers truths about her birth, her family and its bargains, and her own abilities. Adding to her discoveries are family fairy tales- dark and disturbing stories of the supernatural that hint at the truths of her family's activities. Miren is strong, smart, resourceful and thoroughly unwilling to accept defeat. Exquisite world building with a true sense of place and character creation. Even secondary characters are fully realized with their own wants and agendas. I loved this book! It's the darkest of dark chocolate tortes - gorgeous and rich. Consume it slowly. Let the words melt on your tongue. Appreciate AG Slatter's artistry. She reminds me of the amazing Tanith Lee. I'm looking forward to reading more of AG Slatter's work.

  29. 5 out of 5

    patri

    all the murmuring bones serves as a lushly somber salute to the sea and the fearful legends that lurk beneath its surface, a gossamery gothic fantasy about a girl spun of saltwater who knows only the loneliness of her longing to be free and her struggles against the strangling grip of a family game to sell her to save their own skin. Miren is made bold and bitter by her blanching mistreatment by the O'Malley matriarch, balking at the marriage she is manipulated into and bent on branching off aft all the murmuring bones serves as a lushly somber salute to the sea and the fearful legends that lurk beneath its surface, a gossamery gothic fantasy about a girl spun of saltwater who knows only the loneliness of her longing to be free and her struggles against the strangling grip of a family game to sell her to save their own skin. Miren is made bold and bitter by her blanching mistreatment by the O'Malley matriarch, balking at the marriage she is manipulated into and bent on branching off after the answers about her abandonment and the autonomy she aches for. ultimately unafraid of her blighted bloodline, she is unerring in her mission to uncover the mysteries of the mangled memories of her mother and the book of myths bequeathed to her; Slatter weaves maritime metaphors and mer mythology together with the whimsical magic of a woman who might once have been meek and maidenly but winds up wary and weary from her misfortunes, working her witchcraft for manipulation and wielding it as a warning against the wicked men who will murder for the money it means. slow to start but unshakable once it pulls you under, all the murmuring bones is a plucky and spell-binding story of sea-faring creatures, stranded curses, selfish cruelty, and the sheer courage of casting off one's clan to have the clarity to come into your own. thank you to netgalley and titan books for kindly passing on this arc! 💫

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nicki Markus

    All the Murmuring Bones was a compelling and original tale. The unravelling of the family mystery over the course of the story was nicely handled, and the action moved along at a good pace. Miren made for an engaging heroine, and I liked that the romance element came in late and didn't overshadow the rest of the story, as sometimes happens. The Gothic atmosphere was well presented, and all up this was a delightful read that held my interest throughout. I would definitely pick up other books by A All the Murmuring Bones was a compelling and original tale. The unravelling of the family mystery over the course of the story was nicely handled, and the action moved along at a good pace. Miren made for an engaging heroine, and I liked that the romance element came in late and didn't overshadow the rest of the story, as sometimes happens. The Gothic atmosphere was well presented, and all up this was a delightful read that held my interest throughout. I would definitely pick up other books by A. G. Slatter in the future. This was a 4.5-star read for me. I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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