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Tall Bones Reviews

Tall Bones by Anna Bailey

Tall Bones

Anna Bailey

4.00 out of 5

4 reviews

Imprint: Doubleday
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Publication date: 1 Apr 2021
ISBN: 9780857527387

When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again. Abi's disappearance cracks open the facade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi's family, there are questions to be asked - of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father - both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him. Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark - the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones....

4 stars out of 5
Alison Flood
20 Apr 2021

"a striking first novel, a chilling insight into an oppressive world, where bad thoughts and bad deeds ripple just below the surface"

“I’ll be fine,” Abigail Blake tells her best friend, Emma, as she leaves the party in the woods. “I’ll just call a cab or something. I’ll figure it out.” But 17-year-old Abigail never comes home. Anna Bailey’s debut novel is set in remote, small-town Colorado, in the close-knit community of Whistling Ridge, rocked by the disappearance of Abigail... Bailey shifts her story back and forth in time, to the period when Abigail was still, vibrantly, alive, and to the weeks after she vanished, when Emma, not trusting the local police, is digging into what really happened that night, and when Whistling Ridge, ruled over by its church, is on the edge of tipping over into violence. This is a striking first novel, a chilling insight into an oppressive world, where bad thoughts and bad deeds ripple just below the surface, out of sight.


4 stars out of 5
Laura Wilson
15 Apr 2021

"Beautifully written and very moving"

Misogyny also rears its head in Anna Bailey’s first novel, Tall Bones (Doubleday, £14.99). Whistling Ridge in Colorado is an insular community presided over by a Christian fundamentalist pastor who considers it entirely legitimate to tell a victim of domestic violence that she should pray for understanding about what she did to deserve it...

Beautifully written and very moving (your heart will ache for a set of people trapped by ignorance, cruelty and trauma), this is an assured debut.

4 stars out of 5
Geoffrey Wansell
15 Apr 2021

"a compelling and atmospheric debut"

She paints a dark picture of a community desperate to protect its secrets in the wake of the disappearance of 17-year-old Abigail during a party at local beauty spot — Tall Bones...

Gradually, the guilt that seems to haunt everyone in the town creeps to the surface, in spite of the best efforts of the fearsome local pastor to stop it. Both menacing and haunting, it is a compelling and atmospheric debut.

4 stars out of 5
Joan Smith
4 Apr 2021

"Homophobia, misogyny and racism are at the heart of this harrowing novel"

Though set in small-town America, this widely praised debut is by an English author, Anna Bailey. Whispering Ridge is a conservative community in the foothills of the Rockies dominated by a Bible-thumping preacher. When a 17-year-old girl goes missing, last seen near a stone circle known as the Tall Bones, it lifts the lid on festering secrets. The girl’s father is an ardent churchgoer who has beaten his family for years, until her disappearance forces the family’s history into the open. Homophobia, misogyny and racism are at the heart of this harrowing novel, which Bailey wrote after working in a bar in rural Colorado.