Palette Cleanser ARC: The Nightingale Bones – Ariel Swan


eARC received through NetGalley in exchange for fair review

Genre: Supernatural Thriller


Someone has been waiting a long time for Alice Towne to arrive in Hawthorne.

Two hundred years, in fact.

Trying to accept her mother’s belief that the women of the Towne family are blessed, not cursed, with supernatural abilities, twenty-seven-year old Alice leaves a disapproving Boston husband to housesit for the summer in tiny Hawthorne, a historic village famous in the 1800s for its peppermint farms and the large, herbal-essence distilleries that flourished around the Massachusetts township.

She settles into a beautiful old home with a tragic reputation. There are said to be sightings and sounds from the spirit of a young woman who hanged herself after all her children died there of illnesses in the 1900s.

But soon, Alice experiences firsthand encounters that convince her the spirit is not who people think. The truth is shocking, steeped in the town’s distillery history and its legends of a local wizard and witchcraft. As she falls in love with a local farmer whose family legacy is as tangled in the magick and the mystery as her own, Alice’s fear becomes not whether the past can be resolved . . . but whether it’s waiting to claim new victims


This is one of those books. Well written, solid story and yet it left me cold and I found it a bit of a struggle to get through. This time though, I know why it didn’t capture my attention: I felt at arms length with Alice.

When we first me Alice, she’s at her lowest low. She’s in a loveless relationship and trying to wean herself off the anti-anxiety meds that keep her visions (that her husband doesn’t believe she has, likely because she herself is not a believer) at bay. Throughout this novel she never climbs much above this emotional low. There’s always this air of melancholy about her. It may well be suited for the character and the plot, but it kept me away from growing to know her or like her. It doesn’t help that almost through the bitter end she keeps saying that she’s not a believer in the old ways. This is a woman who finds the titular bones based on impulses she’s getting from the house. This is a woman who quite literally shimmers with her abilities. At one point does disbelief just seem kinda stupid? It’s not like she wasn’t brought up in the tradition either. She was, she just chose the deny the truth in front of her own eyes with medicine. Whatever the case, I just never cared about her.

The character I liked most was Teddy, a New Orleans transplant. He felt like a walking cliche of what those of us who don’t live in New Orleans expect natives to sound like when we go to visit the city, but at least he had heart and warmth. Her mother, though definitely flighty, grew on me too for the same reasons. There is a love interest here named Kyle. We finally learn why he’s so good for Alice at the very end, but during the story it’s a wee bit insta-love for my taste. You know the two are meant to be together, but you can’t figure out why. She’s kind of cold towards him (and everyone else really), he’s drawn to her because she smells like apples…and that’s it? I never got a sense of chemistry between the pair, a sense that they’d have some to make a go of this beyond just a base physical attraction. I waited for their inevitable coupling, but I was hardly excited about it, the way a book that makes you like the characters can do.

All in all, this may work for you if you’re strictly into the mystery of what’s going on. That said, this book solidly rests within the tropes of its genre and doesn’t reinvent the wheel. Books like that can be fun to read, but personally speaking, I need stronger characters if the plot isn’t unique. Your mileage may vary.

At the end of the day It’s a solid book, but it’s unexceptional and if like me you need characters to keep you vested when the plot doesn’t do anything new, you may want to keep looking.

Verdict: A weak Borrow It for a tale well told, fans need something more character driven will probably want to keep looking.


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