All the Murmuring Bones is the story of Miren O’Malley and how she tries to forge her own destiny away from the pre-prescribe family legacy and path placed upon her by her grandmother.
This novel’s gothic setting was stuff of legends. It was the main drawing card that piqued my interest, but aside from the beautiful setting and the narrative that painted that setting…the story wasn’t all that memorable. I wanted to love it so bad, but I always found myself so bored when everything came so easy to our leading lady. This was described as a character driven novel, but Miren did not go through a character arc that changed her…at all and every time she was given an obstacle it was magically (and easily) solved for her by someone else. She murdered a man and it was just a shrug in her growth.
There was so much potential in this world filled with mermaids, magic, witches and darkness — but everything was only explored at a surface level to solve Miren’s problems instead of truly delving into it. I had so many questions and wanted to learn more but it was just all so meh. As someone who lives for character driven stories I wanted more, I wanted Miren to grow, but the Miren we met at the start of the book was the same Miren we left at the end.
The one thing that kept me going through the book was the O’Malley tales that were peppered through the novel. These stories gave us Grimm Brother’s like fairytales of the previous generations of the O’Malleys and how they created, followed and maintained their powers through the bargain with the merfolks. Every time I saw a tale passage come up I would essentially skim the prose until I got to it, because they were just that good! Some of them I even read a couple of times. All the little tales would make a great book of creepy short stories.
Overall, All the Murmuring Bones had an amazing setting and world but the characters were all unmemorable and as someone who enjoys character driven stories I was deeply disappointed. However, if plot driven stories are your jam, then this creepy and gothic stand-alone novel will definitely be something you’ll enjoy.
Publisher: New South Books
Publication Date: Mar 2021
RRP: $22.99 AUD
Personal Rating: 3/5