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Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones Hardcover – February 5, 2019
"Agnes's Place" by Marit Larsen
First published in Norway, this is a lovely story about home and belonging and how one person can transform our world. | Learn more
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“Hicks’s wildly atmospheric and unsettling debut is a heady fusion of horror, Southern gothic, and timely social commentary. […] Hicks, a gifted storyteller, explores the crushing loss of hope and the dark heart of fear. Corporate greed is highlighted, and Henry’s hardworking creations are obvious stand-ins for immigrants. Alongside the metaphor is real racial tension: Jane and her family are African-American and are targets of prejudice. Hicks’s surreal, often grim vision is not without hope, even if it must come in the bloody wake of tragedy. Fans of the macabre will be enthralled.” —Publishers Weekly
“Daring readers with a hunger for the arcane and the New Weird style of writers like China Miéville will enjoy this singularly strange novel.” —Booklist
“[T]his novel is extraordinary: not just an early candidate for the best horror novel of the year, but one we can present a good case for declaring a transcendent, committed and riveting novel for this historical moment… It is Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, mixed with H.G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau, set in the creepiest screwed-up town since Salem’s Lot… Micah Dean Hicks has produced a major achievement.”--Adam-Troy Castro, Sci-Fi Magazine
“I can’t stop thinking about this book. It’s a haunting story that burrows under your skin like an insect laying eggs that hatch within you in the middle of the night. Hick’s mesmerizing imagery kept me turning the pages and asking myself “How is this book happening? What sort of literary witchcraft am I witnessing?”—Maurice Broaddus, author of Buffalo Soldier and The Usual Suspects
“A tour-de-force of the imagination. Hicks has created a world that is beautifully and brutally surreal and yet, at the same time, BREAK THE BODIES, HAUNT THE BONES stands as a hyper-realistic psychological portrait of the death of the American factory town. My own identity as an American was disturbed and changed by this novel; some dormant understanding was shaken awake. This is a stunning and profound debut.” —Julianna Baggott, bestselling author of New York Times Notable Book Pure
“Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones is a breathless wonder of a debut novel. Amid robots and a city of pigs and residents haunted by their own personal ghosts, Micah Dean Hicks explores economic uncertainty, the violence of bigotry and hate, and the tremendous weight of the past. In Swine Hill, no one escapes the horrors of grief. And yet this is a novel infused with hope, and with the most gorgeous sentences evoking the sublime wonder of this world. Hicks is a magician with words and has written a spellbinding, haunting and necessary book.” —Anne Valente, author of Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down
“Hicks’ debut novel is a thoughtful tour of the rotted and haunted heart of America. Highly recommended.” —Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author Jeremiah Tolbert
“In Break the Bodies Haunt the Bones, Micah Dean Hicks has crafted a haunting story with multi-generational appeal, where the very real horror of poverty meets supernatural horror, and social issues like xenophobia, racism and economic anxiety are addressed organically through allegory and gripping storytelling. I finished this book three nights ago and still feel the chill of Swine Hill in my bones.”
—Chris L. Terry, author of Black Card and Zero Fade
About the Author
- Publisher : Mariner Books; 1st Edition (February 5, 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1328566455
- ISBN-13 : 978-1328566454
- Item Weight : 1.05 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.12 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,455,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The cover: in no way appealed to me. If you've been here awhile, you know how much I covet covers. Covers are meant to convey something about the book, they make promises about what's on offer inside, and if I don't like the cover, my gut says I'm likely to feel the same about the story. Were it not for the promise of ghosts (and the offer of an ARC), I probably would have bypassed this book. And that would have been terrible!!! Now that I'm done reading it, the cover is no more aesthetically appealing to me, but I see how it connects to the actual story, and it really couldn't be more appropriate.
The story: I'd say I'm at a loss for words, but it's really that there are so many words, and I shouldn't write a novel or an essay (though I would love to do a deep, close read of this book, if time allowed, there is so much to dissect!). This story promised ghosts and it delivered in spades, but there is so much more to this than ghosts. This is not the kind of horror novel with graphic and gruesome violence and anxiety-inducing, heart-wrenching fear. Which isn't to say there isn't some violence, and perhaps a little gruesomeness, but that it isn't particularly graphic, and it is what causes it that is where the horror lies. And the fact that the source is reflective of many of American societies ills, that it all makes sense.
To some, it might seem a bit absurdist. There were moments when I felt that way, and I suspect it's intended. This story is a sort of quasi-apocalyptic"Animal Farm" meets "Frankenstein" with angry ghosts who can hurt you, who can possess you, who are angry and sad and scared and can't move on to...wherever or whatever the next step is. Their existence has crumbled, and over the years, the town they left behind has crumbled along with them, weakening their tether to the world. They fight desperately to prevent change, while still keeping the town alive, because they are afraid of the unknown, because they feel they were cheated and are owed something, because they have things they still want to do, because they have needs that must be filled. And they don't care who they hurt along the way.
Oh my gosh, I could go on and on, but what I mean to say is, it is a strange book, but it is a beautifully strange book, thought-provoking, poignant, and ridiculously relevant. It is fascinating and hideous, beautiful and confounding, brilliant and ghastly. Without a doubt, one of the most surprising stories I've ever read, certainly not one I'll forget, and an easy, hands-down, no-need-to-contemplate, brilliantly-shining 5 star read.
All of that said, this feels like a book that isn't for everybody. There are some small, quick scenes of violence. It is not a happy or light read. It's edgy and twisted and bizarre and outlandish and if you like those things, it's absolutely fabulous and you should read it now.Right. Now.
Note: I received this book from the publisher. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.
The overall stakes are quite clear, however, and it's the very relateable fear of being left behind, being unfairly judged for your past, class, family, gender, or race. Terrified, small-minded people and the capitalist system that both created & exploits them are the biggest threats to our protagonists. Hicks conveys all that so well, my concerns over not understanding how individual hauntings and other supernatural tricks worked didn't hamper my overall experience with his book.
Hick's critique of our modern world doesn't break new grouond. But it's also very well written, with clever flourishes which don't obfuscate meaning. If you want to be chilled by some scary moments, and are willing to cry over the plight of pig people, give "Break The Bones, Haunt The Bodies" a read.