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The Cold Is in Her Bones

Review

The Cold Is in Her Bones

Peternelle van Arsdale brings the spooky and the fantasy back in her latest novel, THE COLD IS IN HER BONES. Those who loved Arsdale’s THE BEAST IS AN ANIMAL will recognize the themes of fear and feminism. Suspenseful and heartbreaking yet hopeful, THE COLD IS IN HER BONES hauntingly reminds readers of the darkness and light that is within us all.

In a society that fears and disvalues females, girls are randomly turned into demons by a curse. Milla does what she is told, wanting the love of her family but also despairing that she will ever be good enough. After years of being trapped on her family’s farm while her brother is allowed to travel to the village, solace finally comes to Milla in the form of Iris. Immediately, a deep friendship forms between the girls; for the first time, Milla has someone who sees her for who she is. Just when everything starts to feel right, her newfound friend starts to change…Milla finds herself going beyond she ever imagined in her quest to save Iris and break the curse that has haunted the village and targeted females for a generation. Walking the line between vengeance, justice and reconciliation, will Milla be able to save her village and those closest to her?

"Dramatic, challenging and suspenseful, van Arsdale's latest is a moving and powerful testimony to the strength of love, forgiveness and redemption."

Balancing the optimism of love with the darkness of power and reality, van Arsdale metaphorically explores the historical treatment of females. While the novel relies on narration-heavy descriptions, the poetic writing adds to the mystical and spooky tone of the novel. With the easy pace and fantastical elements, it has the familiar feeling of a haunting story told before sleep overtakes the night. Inspired by the tale of Medusa, THE COLD IS IN HER BONES explores the concept of conformity, and how society alienates those who do not fit the norm. In each trial Milla faces, she not only has to fight against oppression from others, but also the expectations she set out for herself. Every action has its consequences, every motive stemming from hidden pain. With each person she meets on her journey, Milla and the reader are forced to look past the surface, making strange the things that were once familiar. Uniting it all are the powerful themes of feminism, vengeance and forgiveness that strengthen the novel’s overall message of understanding.

The strongest feature of the novel is the feminism that is portrayed through Milla and her journey. Throughout the novel, Milla rises to overcome her mistreatment and the expectations that were put on her, becoming uniquely herself. While other characters do have multiple layers, they sometimes seem not fully three-dimensional; the reader sees their characteristics more in their actions and motives. Hurt, anger, guilt and love are put at odds, especially in familial relationships. The complicated bonds between mother and daughter, siblings and friends show that nothing is ever easy or simple.

THE COLD IS IN HER BONES definitely met my expectations; I would not recommend reading this novel before bed to anyone who wants sleep, because once you get halfway in, you will not want to stop! Dramatic, challenging and suspenseful, van Arsdale's latest is a moving and powerful testimony to the strength of love, forgiveness and redemption.

Reviewed by Lauren Conser on March 19, 2019

The Cold Is in Her Bones
by Peternelle van Arsdale