What have I been doing lately? Cooking, mostly.
Here, have an authentic Scottish recipe (not):
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 c butter
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix ingredients with a pastry cutter (or fork) until crumbly mixture is formed.
Knead by hand into a smooth ball.
Form into an 8" circle. Cut into 16 wedges before cooking.
Sprinkly with large grain or colored sugar if desired.
Bake at 325 for 25-30 minutes. (Center should be set when done.)
Cut into wedges again while still warm.
By Clare B. Dunkle
Available now from Square Fish (Macmillan)
Read my review of THE HOUSE OF DEAD MAIDS and Clare's guest blog
Maddie lives in a small village in Scotland, where the people call themselves Christians but older traditions still have a strong hold. At the market, she meets a silent boy who carves wood. She's instantly drawn to him. And that's before he ever talks to her. Then an evil presence raids the village and Carver is hurt.
Clare B. Dunkle's language is simple and direct, most of the time. She becomes more romantic when describing environments, but never reaches purple. Her choice of diction is well-suited to BY THESE TEN BONES's setting - and the setting is definitely a strong point. A village wherein everyone knows each other is claustrophobic to a boy with a secret. The people of the village believe more than one thing, but the older religion might encompass a way to save Carver.
I liked Maddie. She's not a heroine who falls in love with danger. She has no notion there might be danger until she's pretty far gone. But when danger comes, she steps up. First, she researches in order to discover the best course of action. Then she acts, knowing the possible consequences of her actions. She's determined to help people, even when she has reasons to dislike them.
Carver is a bit harder to like, since he keeps quiet most of the time. At the same time, he clearly returns Maddie's affections. He also does his best not to hurt anyone and resists Maddie's more foolhardy plans. He's a good love interest.
BY THESE TEN BONES does its best to stand out from the paranormal pack. While the love story is somewhat familiar, I do think it succeeds based on the strength of the setting. But maybe I just enjoy a good werewolf story.