The Rattled Bones

The Rattled Bones

by S.M. Parker


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The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker

“The feminist ghost story you’ve been waiting for.” —Bustle

Unearthing years of buried secrets, Rilla Brae is haunted by ghostly visions tied to the tainted history of a mysterious island in this “electrifying, taut tale of the sea, grief, and memory” (Kathleen Glasgow) from the author of The Girl Who Fell.

Maine-bred, independent Rilla Brae is no stranger to the deep. She knows the rhythms of hard work and harder seas. But when she experiences the sudden death of her father, the veil between the living and the dead blurs and she begins to be haunted by a girl on a nearby, uninhabited island. The girl floats a song over the waves, and it is as beautiful as it is terrifying. Familiar and distant.

Then Rilla meets Sam, a University of Southern Maine archeology student tasked with excavating the very island where the ghostly girl has appeared. Sam sifts the earth looking for the cultural remains of an island people who were forcibly evicted by the state nearly a hundred years ago. Sam tells Rilla the island has a history no locals talk about—if they know about it at all—due to the shame the events brought to the working waterfront community. All Rilla knows for sure is that the island has always been there—an eerie presence anchored in the stormy sea. Now Sam’s work and the ghostly girl’s song lure Rilla to the island’s shores.

As Rilla helps Sam to unearth the island’s many secrets, Rilla’s visions grow—until the two discover a tragedy kept silent for years. And it’s a tragedy that has everything to do with Rilla’s past.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781481482042
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 08/22/2017
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 551,423
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

S.M. Parker lives on the coast of Maine with her husband and sons. She works as a literacy advocate and holds degrees from three New England universities. She can usually be found rescuing dogs, chickens, old houses, and wooden boats. She has a weakness for chocolate chip cookies and ridiculous laughter—ideally at the same time. The Girl Who Fell was her first novel. Find her at

Read an Excerpt

The Rattled Bones

  • There is no name for what I am.

    Boys have their choice of titles—lobsterman, sternman, fisherman—but since I’m a girl, I am none of these. My gender isn’t welcome at sea, which is ridiculous since no one is more tied to the moon and the ocean than a female. But maritime lore has always claimed that a girl on a ship is bad luck, even though nearly every sailor in the history of braving the ocean has named his boat after a girl. Men even invented the mermaid to feel safer at sea.

    I’ll always defend my right to fish the water.

    But today I don’t want to be here.

    I nudge my wrist forward, pressing against the throttle to make the Rilla Brae quicken. My lobster boat—the one Dad named for me—cuts a certain path through the rough, curling Maine water. The morning fog parts as I push against its thickness, the displaced mist twisting into thin gray fingers, beckoning me toward deeper waters.

    I go because I have to.

    Because it’s what my father would have wanted.

    I steer toward the swath of ocean my family has fished for generations while the GPS bleeps out navigation points. I silence the machine and its piercing electronic pulses because I don’t need technology to find the string of lobster traps my father set into the deep three days ago—his last day on earth. The watery pathway leading to the Gulf of Maine is an artery I’ve traveled since before I could crawl. Its inlets are as recognizable—as memorable—as the laugh lines that track around my father’s eyes.


    The VHF radio above my head wakes with static before I hear Reed’s voice. “All in, Rilla Brae?”

    I pull down the mouthpiece and press the side button to talk. “All in.” It’s the same response I always give Reed when he checks in on my fishing. All in. These two words let him know I’m on the water. That I’m all right and that I love him—things you need a code for when talking over a public channel.

    A wave of static and then, “Charlotte Anne, out at Lip Gulley, watching for you, Rilla Brae.” The voice is Billy Benson’s, captain of the Charlotte Anne—a vessel named for his wife—and I’m not sure if he’s watching for me or my boat or both. I don’t have time to respond before Emmet Teale’s call comes across the wire: “Maddie Jean, good to hear ya on the line, Rilla Brae.”

    “Heavy seas today. Keep beam to.” George Mank, telling me to keep my boat perpendicular to the swells, even though I know what he’s really telling me. How all the fishermen are using their own kind of code to say the hard things.

    I press the VHF button and ask: “You boys gonna tie up this channel all day with this lovefest?”

    Being a wiseass might be the most sacred language among us on the water. It tells the men that I’m okay, even if I’m not.

    The radio chirps with a lighter chatter about weather and bait prices as I slow near a green-and-orange buoy bobbing with our family’s fishing colors. Dad, Gram, and I spent the winter painting all eight hundred of our Styrofoam buoys—a thick horizontal stripe of orange crossed with a thin vertical strip of green. The specific colors and design mark our traps. My traps now. Every fishing family knows each other by the colored pattern of their buoys. Just as every fishing family knows it’s forbidden to set one’s traps in another family’s fishing grounds. It’s a hard thing to think I’m a fishing family of one now. Well, me and Gram. But Gram doesn’t go out on the water anymore.

    I flick the throttle to neutral and step outside the wheelhouse to cast my hook, spearing the buoy rope on the first try. I pull the lobster line manually—old-school—straining the muscles in my arms and back to coax the metal crate from the bottom of the sea. It rises inch by inch through the layers of water as I work the wet rope through my hands.

    My arms tire quickly.

    The soggy, slack rope curls into a sleeping snake behind my feet as the corner of the first lobster trap breaks the water. Its green metal edge winks against the gray waves as it sloughs off excess water. My heart stutters as I hold the trap at the waterline, unable to let it fully break the surface.

    “This is the moment,” he’d say, and I’d watch my dad’s frame swell with hope for the catch, each trap a new gift. “What treasure will the sea bestow upon us?”

    I want to hold the trap suspended like this for the rest of time, feel my father’s enthusiasm here with me. But of course I can’t. I reach for the trap, insert my gloved fingers into the wire mesh, and wrestle the cage onto the deck.

    And then a smile crests on my lips. A pop of laughter jumps from inside of me.

    Because the trap is full and it feels like a gift from my dad.

    I cast my eyes to the sky to thank him, even if I wasn’t raised to believe in heaven or happily ever afters.

    *  *  *

    By the time I reset my string of a hundred pots and deliver my catch to the fisheries co-op, the sun has bullied away the fog and swallowed every drop of cool air. I shed my heavy rubber overalls and strip down to my everyday uniform of leggings and a plain white tee. I turn my course toward home, where Gram will be waiting.

    Only Gram.

    I raise my face to the sun to let its warmth reach inside of me, stretch into my bones. I keep my hips pressed against the boat’s steering wheel, coasting in the sea that has calmed now. My reliable engine hums as I watch the sleek missile dive of an oil-black cormorant. The bird retrieves a fish from the water and spreads her wings against the blue-and-white marble sky as she flies off with her breakfast.

    Life and death in a heartbeat.

    The bird disappears into the thick green tree line of a nearby island just as my boat lurches to a violent stop, pitching me forward. My hip bone slams against the corner of the instrument panel and pain sears along the length of my body, hot as fire. At the back of the boat, my engine misfires with a shotgun blast that raises thunder in my heart. Then the engine dies.

    Leaving me bobbing, alone at sea without power.

    Every mariner’s nightmare.

    I scan the console, but it’s darkened to black. No electricity. No VHF. I throw the motor into neutral and crank the key. The engine doesn’t speak. The boat tumbles with the sway of the waves. I try the key again. Nothing. And no cell reception along this waterway.

    I draw in a deep breath. I know this boat. I’ve got this.

    Except, maybe I don’t.

    I move to the engine at the back. I run my fingers along the fuel lines, testing every valve, every connection. The fuel filter’s clean. No broken belts, no blown hoses. I straighten, mystified. And that is when Malaga Island draws my full attention—or rather, the small wooden boat resting at its shore. The empty skiff is old, its paint beaten bare from Maine’s harsh seasons. But who does it belong to? And can they give me help if I need it?

    Help. Something I’ve never been good at asking for.

    The current pushes me closer to the uninhabited island, which isn’t much more than a rough mound of stone. The island’s trees are thick green spruce, with pointed, triangle tips that gobble up the sunlight. Tufts of fennel grass cling for life along the rough, small beach. And then, a figure.

    A girl.

    Maybe my age.

    She is bent and focused as if rubbing something against the rocks. Her dark braids slip over her sharp shoulders as she leans forward, pulls back. Rhythmically. Expertly.

    I wave, but the girl doesn’t look up.

    I call to her, my hands cupped around my cry. “Hello!” I fan my arm again, cutting a single arc through the air. The girl doesn’t respond. I stare at her too-long dress, its white lace seeming so out of place.

    The air buckles, allowing a cold current to sweep across the water. The wind has the bite of winter in its breath, too icy for June. My skin blooms with gooseflesh.

    Then I hear her.

    The girl raises a song over the pounding waves, a low and mournful melody that lifts louder as she presses forward and back, her eyes never leaving her task. Her tune sounds like a lullaby from my childhood. Maybe something Gram would hum as she cradled me in her rocking-chair lap. Or is it from the forgotten depths of days when my mother lived here? Did my mother know this song? Sing it to me?

    My memory can’t pull up the words, but it doesn’t matter.

    Because it feels like the girl is singing for my loss.

    I call to her again. “Hello!” My yell is primal, and I’m not entirely sure it has anything to do with my need to be rescued. When she looks up I see her brown face, her large eyes finding me. Do I know this girl? A word forms on her wide mouth, but the shrill bleat of an air horn devours all other sound. I startle and turn.

    Old Man Benner’s slick new lobster boat—appropriately named Pretty Penny—putters beside mine, dwarfing the Rilla Brae. He cups one hand around his mouth and calls, “Ya’s all right, Rilla?”

    “Fine.” The lie is quick and spiteful. I’d rather swim home than accept help from Reed’s grandfather, but I hear my dad’s words: “You get farther with sugar than you do with spice, sunfish.” I throw a forced smile.

    “Glad ta see ya pulling them pots.” Now it’s his turn to lie. Only one morning after Dad’s death, Old Man Benner called Gram to bully me off our fishing grounds. I listened with my head pressed to hers, our ears tented over the kitchen wall’s landline receiver. When I heard Old Man Benner’s dense Maine accent spit out the words “Ayuh. Ocean’s no place for a girl,” I hung up on him, leaving me alone with Gram and her stern stare. I set twice as many traps into the deep that day.

    “Sorry again ’bout ya father.” Old Man Benner’s tongue is thick with Maine, making father sound like fath-ah. It’s the regional accent Dad trained out of me from the first words I spoke. Not because he was ashamed of our roots, but because he knew it would mark me, and he wanted me to make my mark on the world instead.

    “Need anything?” Old Man Benner calls.

    A tow. My father. I need to believe I didn’t fail Dad on his last day, the way his heart did. I slide my dignity down where I can’t hear its protest and move to the rail. A request for help sits on my lips, but my pride won’t give it sound. “I’m all set.” Another lie.

    “Ya shouldn’t be out he-ah, Rilla.” Benner sucks on a toothpick, teetering it between his teeth. “No sayin’ what could happen to a girl alone.”

    The threat smacks me hard enough to rattle my head. My blood thickens with hate. “I’ll keep that in mind.” I stretch my arm toward him, hold up my open palm when I want to hold up my middle finger. He laughs at my fisherman’s—fishergirl’s?—wave, jimmying that gnawed toothpick deep in his bite.

    My wave is enough to make him move on, and I flip him the bird once he’s passed. His boat stirs a wake that leaves me bobbing in giant man-made swells. When the sea settles, I try the key again. Nothing. It’s okay, I tell myself. I’ll ask the girl for help. It’ll be easy. People ask for assistance all the time. I reach for a rag under the console, find a white square of torn sheet and raise it over my head, readying to wave the international distress signal.

    But the girl is gone. I trade the SOS cloth for my binoculars and scan the island.

    She is nowhere.

    I settle into the captain’s chair—my chair now.

    I search Malaga with a strange disappointment swelling my heart. I don’t know why I feel solidarity with the girl; maybe because she’s not supposed to be out here. Same as me.

    I stand quickly, feeling trapped. My binoculars catch the edge of the key as they fall from my lap. The electronic gauges light up. “Well, hello,” I say, bringing my fingers to the dashboard. I turn the key fully and the motor turns over with a smooth rumble, shimmying the boat to life.

    “Good girl.” I pet her console before I set the Rilla Brae in gear and ease nearer to the island. I stop before the sea becomes too shallow. I look for the girl and her boat, but there are no signs of either. I press the heels of my palms against my eyes and know I need more sleep. Could I have imagined her? How else could she be here one minute and not the next?

    Because a boat can’t just disappear.

    Unless she pulled the skiff ashore and it’s resting in an island inlet I can’t see. I decide that’s what’s happened before turning the helm toward home. I set my course to Fairtide Cottage, the only home I’ve ever known.

    And I see our flag at half-mast.

    All the flags on our fishing peninsula ripple at half-mast.

    When I dock the Rilla Brae, Gram greets me, barefoot as always. She’s made of sturdy Downeast stock and tries to hide the grief that slumps her shoulders as she marches across the yard, intent on inspecting the cooler filled with a sampling of today’s catch. Tonight’s dinner.

    With each of Gram’s steps, the melody of the girl’s song returns, rising as Gram gets closer. It feels new and old all at once. Like I know it, but I’m also discovering it. My ears fill with the tune. My heart swells for it. My memory reaches for it. The song wraps me in the safety of my past and promises the same for my future. Come here, come here. My dear, my dear, it says.

    “What’s that song?” My words sound weak, as if I were too afraid to speak them.

    “Song?” Gram bends to tug on my dock lines to make sure they’re secure.

    I clear my throat. “The one you were singing.”

    “Wasn’t me singing this time,” Gram says. She’s been the world’s biggest fan of  The Who since forever ago. It’s not uncommon to hear her belting out “Pinball Wizard” while she’s beating eggs or glazing a pie. But today Gram puts her hand on my shoulder, like she knows maybe the song I’m asking about is in my head. Like she knows my head is crammed with too much noise. She gives my shoulder a gentle squeeze and the music stops.

    We’re left to the beat of lapping waves and the chorus of brawling seabirds hovering always at the shore.

    Gram boards the Rilla Brae as I study the rise of granite and trees that make up the forty acres of Malaga Island. I’m searching still for the girl, even from here. Listening for her song. Gram watches me carefully, an unasked question in her eyes. “Maybe Hattie’s singing.” She nods up at the house. “She’s waiting for ya.”

    Hattie. The last girl I want to see.

  • Customer Reviews

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    The Rattled Bones 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
    A-Smith More than 1 year ago
    I loved this book so much, and was hooked from the very first page! The writing is stunning -- the way the author was able to describe things with such depth and dimension, using all of the senses. And all of the characters just came to life on the page, feeling so real, so multidimensional. And I really appreciated the way the romance element was handled -- I loved that Rilla and Sam's relationship felt natural and solid, yet he wasn't her knight in shining armor. And as great as their relationship was, I'm glad it was only one part of Rilla's larger story. One of my favorite things about this book is the idea of how connected we all are to the past, and how sometimes you have to go back in order to understand the present (and are also often taken to the brink of sanity to get there). I thought the way all of the supernatural elements were handled was simply masterful. It was so creepy and chilling, yet not over the top terrifying in that way that I think a lot of paranormal/thriller books tend to be. I love books that have supernatural or paranormal elements, but it seems like it's something that's hard to do well. Here, they were perfectly balanced, with all the right kinds of tension. And finally, I loved that we see Rilla not only being afraid and facing her fear, but embracing it -- she is such a fantastic, accessible, strong, brave, badass heroine!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is a truly beautiful book. The Maine setting is stunningly rendered, from the natural beauty of the land and sea to the hardships of life on a lobster boat, from the stubborn pride of people whose families have lived there for generations to the cycles of poverty and abuse that afflict modern teenagers in small towns. But most vivid of all is the sense of history in the place, and the constant awareness that history shapes the world we live in, whether it's good or shameful, recent or distant. The clearing of Malaga Island is a dark, shameful chapter in American history, and Parker explores it here with care and empathy. The main character, Rilla, is a teenager whose life has been marked by grief and loss, but her care for the people around her as well as those whose tragic past she uncovers as she explores the history of her home. Her conflicting emotions about going to college, about leaving her grandmother alone, about choosing a life different from the one her friends have chosen, about taking comfort in a friendship with an outsider, about the fear that if she moves away she'll change too much to come back, they're all so very real and powerful and important for readers of all ages, but especially teenagers, to acknowledge and explore. And, of course, this is a ghost story, so it's got plenty of delightful creeps as well! The slow unveiling of the supernatural elements of the story sent chills down my spine and kept me reading way past my bedtime. Very highly recommended. I can't wait to see what Parker writes next. I will be first in line to read it!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Equal parts beautiful and chilling, Shannon Parker's sophomore novel will sweep you away to the icy waters and small coastal towns of Maine, where the past refuses to be ignored and family secrets are dredged to the surface with the day's catch. Unputdownable, and like the roar of the sea once you've heard it, unforgettable. *And if the blurb above isn't enough incentive for you to read this beauty, let me tell you some of the things that make this one of my all-time top reads, starting with: --The haunting. This book has some creepy moments that make your skin crawl, and I'm a ghost story junkie, so I'm nearly uncreepable! I consider scaring me a hallmark of great storytelling. --The characters. From warm, wise Gram to smart, headstrong Rilla to adorable archaeology student Sam, I've rarely read a story where I felt so connected to all the characters. They're all fully realized, with believable desires and motives, which makes connecting to them so easy. --The romance. I say this not because there's a lot of romance, but rather, because what's there is extremely light and tasteful. If you're looking for an eerie read more focused on an awesome mystery and richly drawn characters than it is on kissing, then this book is for you! --The mystery and history (see what I did there?). This book is clearly well-researched, and the historical narrative woven throughout Rilla's story is extremely compelling (though tragic). After reading, I was so intrigued that I had to research the island setting's heartbreaking history for myself. Parker has drawn from a real piece of lesser-known history for this tale, and her vivid descriptions bring a long-gone era to life for her readers. --Strong, beautiful writing. The descriptions in this book make you feel like you're really at sea, sitting beside Rilla in her lobster boat (even if you are, like me, reading it on the couch in your landlocked town!). --The ending! The story's end is uplifting and satisfying...though I'll admit I was bummed that I wouldn't be spending any more time with Rilla and Sam. In short, I think everyone should read this!
    Sara_B More than 1 year ago
    THE RATTLED BONES will resonate with me for a long time. Rilla and her strength, her determination, her fierce love for her family and the past. I will not soon forget those heart-pounding moments of terror, those moments I felt so viscerally, the moments I wanted to speed through to know that everything would be fine, but at the same time, slow down to relish the beauty of the writing. Such a lovely, unforgettable story.
    MarisaR More than 1 year ago
    I was lucky enough to read an ARC of the phenomenal THE RATTLED BONES, and I was all in from the first page. This book has everything I want in a story: hope, heart, mystery, friendships, families, swoon, history, atmosphere, and best of all, a kickass female MC. Sometimes you come to books and they are just the perfect book for you. This was that book for me. I was so completely immersed in the evocative world of Fairtide Cottage and Malaga Island and the coast of Maine that I felt these characters with me for weeks. I feel them still. In my bones. In my heart. On top of all of this, the story is so very timely and important as it highlights real-life events that show a dark side of America’s history that took place on Maine’s Malaga Island. The tension is built beautifully as Parker weaves this textured and layered story. You will feel like you are in Maine or on the lobster boat with Rilla or feeling the ghostly breeze along your neck hairs on Malaga Island. THE RATTLED BONES is an absolute must-read and one of my favorite books of the year.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Very few books that I've read can be said to be both starkly earthy and gorgeously otherworldly all at the same time. But in the Maine fishing town (a richly-envisioned setting that author Parker clearly knows with her whole heart) where main character, seventeen year old lobster fisherwoman, Rilla's tale is set, this lovely combination of cruel reality is deftly interwoven with events and people long, long gone. A suberb sophomore effort by a masterful new author!
    Gill French More than 1 year ago
    THE RATTLED BONES is an incredibly atmospheric Maine ghost story that weaves a spell around the reader from page one. I loved the coastal setting, and I grew so attached to the characters; Rilla, Gram, Sam-OMG Sam! *swoon*--were like my friends by the end of the book, and I was so invested in seeing how everything turned out for them. The mystery of Malaga Island was fascinating to me; I'm a Maine native and I'd never heard the awful story of what happened to the inhabitants there, proving that the cloud of shame and silence still lingers. TRB is gripping, moving, and so beautiful in the telling. Definitely a must-read!
    Brooks_Benjamin More than 1 year ago
    This book has the perfect balance of mystery, spine-tingling suspense, and wonderfully rich descriptions that kept me up way past my bedtime. I'd tell myself if only read one more chapter, then get pulled right back in. The way Parker weaves together the history of Malaga with Rilla's need to discover why she continues seeing a girl on the abandoned island is so well done. The friendship between her and Sam is so perfectly real and heartwarming and I couldn't help but love every page where they were together. I can't say it enough--this book is just so dang good!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I loved Parker's debut, THE GIRL WHO FELL, so I was very excited to see where she would take her readers next, and she did not disappoint. Set on the Maine coast, THE RATTLED BONES centers around Rilla, a seventeen year old taking over her father's lobster boat after his recent death. This is a story about loss, grief, and finding out where you belong, and yet it's also a spine-chilling ghost story. Parker's prose is haunting and lyrical, and had me thinking of all the ways the past can haunt us--both inside and out. Creepy, riveting, mysterious, and atmospheric, this is a book that will stay with me for a long time. Highly recommended!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The Rattled Bones is a beautifully written ghost story about how the past can haunt us in different ways. Wonderfully spooky and atmospheric, it's the kind of book that grabs you by the shoulders and doesn't let go even after you close the final page. A fantastic read.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    In The Girl Who Fell, Shannon Parker established herself as a master at weaving a compelling story in a high stakes, thrilling ride of a read. She does it again, superbly, in The Rattled Bones, where a haunting on the Maine coastline blurs the line between sanity and madness. High school graduate Rilla has been raised by her father and grandmother. In this last summer before embarking for Brown on a full scholarship, her father's unexpected death causes Rilla to rethink her plans. But it's more than the future of her family's lobstering business weighing on her. Rilla is starting to see things - things that others can't - things that are tied to the dark and dirty history of a small island off her Maine coastline. Forcing Rilla to face a startling truth - either she's losing her grip on her sanity or she's connecting with a woman who died almost a century ago. Parker's writing flat out stuns in this paranormal mystery. She explores Rilla's grief and loss with great sensitivity and honesty. These lines read like poetry. But it is first and foremost a thriller with a deliciously high creep element. Parker absolutely shines at scaring the bleep out of you. For me, the brilliance of this story is its layers and complexity. In Rilla's quest for the truth, Parker exposes yet another long buried incident of racial prejudice and takes a provocative look at the constraints of gender roles past and present. Scary, thrilling, thoughtful and provocative, THE RATTLED BONES, is going to be BIG! DO NOT MISS THIS ONE!!!!
    K_Glasgow22 More than 1 year ago
    A smart, thrilling, intelligent exploration of grief and memory. The book is scary, wild, feminist, and interesting in all the best ways. She's created an excellent character in teen lobster boat captain Rilla; the terrain of Maine is explored fully and sensitively. You'll read this book for it's intelligent prose and smart pacing; you'll also get some some serious scares and thrills.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    After devouring Parker's debut novel (THE GIRL WHO FELL) last year, I knew I'd pick up anything this author wrote, but I honestly wasn't prepared for what I found in her sophomore effort. I loved THE GIRL WHO FELL for its surprising prose, its taut pace, and its eerie atmosphere and while THE RATTLED BONES might, from the outside, appear to be an entirely different kind of book, those who loved GIRL will find more than enough of Parker's signature moody, breathlessly beautiful writing here to fall head first in love. The strengths of Parker's first novel don't just shine through again; they've been sharpened to a point. GIRL had teeth but THE RATTLED BONES adds a healthy dose of heart. The atmosphere of Rilla's salty, windswept world is a living thing, running through the pages, and from the first chapter, Rilla's grief, confusion, and determination bring her to life as a highly sympathetic though realistically flawed character. A melancholy, magical, and big-hearted read for those who love reading about family, history, and a side of ghosts.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I loved everything about this book! It's eery and creepy in the best way. Rilla makes for a fierce main character that I couldn't get enough of. (Also, Gran gets a special shout out!) I was sad to see this one end.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The Rattled Bones is a spellbinding haunting novel that captures the intense beauty of the Maine coastline and its inhabitants. I’m not usually one for ghost stories, but Shannon Parker does such an amazing job at making the story believable. And scary! Her visuals and scenes made me wonder at times – is this the story in the now, the then, is it a dream, or is this a ghost? I also didn’t think I would be interested in a story about a ‘fisherman’ but the fishing and boating stuff was really cool! Parker brings Rilla front and center to create a gorgeous, brave, strong main character that you can’t help but love. I fell in love with Gram too, Rilla’s equally strong grandmother, the only mother she knows. I felt like the sea was a character as well – descriptions of the water and how the ocean moved, breathed, etc., was truly a reader’s experience! I loved the little extras we got as a reader – info on the lobster industry was fascinating and made me hungry. The descriptions of the plants, tea, and the intense history of Malaga Island drew me in immediately. Such visual imagery! Another great thing about this book is that it isn’t the typical girl meets boy, girl sees ghost, girl falls in love with boy, and boy saves her. It was so much more—a beautiful and haunting story about a girl, her family, her heritage, and the sea.
    DStrieff More than 1 year ago
    A fierce girl. A tragic history shrouded in shame and silence... The Rattled Bones takes readers on a heart-pounding journey along the rugged coast of Maine where an unspeakable past refuses to stay buried. Part history and mystery, but wholly unique, this was the feminist ghost story (with lobstering to boot!) that's been missing from my shelf. I loved every lyrical word of Rilla's exquisitely haunting tale!!!
    JennieKBrown More than 1 year ago
    OMG! I was so LUCKY to have received an ARC of The Rattled Bones! I read Shannon's first book The Girl Who Fell and absolutely fell in love with it, so I knew that I wouldn't be disappointed with her sophomore novel --- and I was right. This book was amazing! I love how Shannon wove in elements of Maine's history, bone-tingling suspense, mystery, and a touch of romance. It was everything I expected and more, and I highly recommend it to everyone! Five-stars for sure! :)
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The Rattled Bones is a lyrical story for our times. Parker uses a musical language that invokes the coast of Maine while at the same time weaving themes related to marginalization and the result of the oppressed being written out of history. Rilla has finished high school and is supposed to go to college in the fall but she is stuck in that familiar place that YA books often reside in, that place between past and present ; the common YA theme of moving into the future and how to do it. Instead of just staying there though, Parker exploits the otherworldliness of the sea to create a story that flirts with the line between paranormal and mental instability. As a resident of western Massachusetts which has a similar history of inhumane institutions, the particular ghosts of institutionalization ring true for me. The leftover aura of cruelty and oppression taint a place. The dehumanizing of fellow community members create a well of past horrors. Combined with the sounds of the water, the sensory details of lobster fishing, and a capable teen lobster boat captain, Parker skillfully uses this history to spin a tale of the importance of knowing our stories and the ghosts of our own making. “I can't imagine any story being better for being silenced." So glad that Parker graced us with a second book. Can’t wait for the next one.
    S_Ernshaw More than 1 year ago
    Ghosts and a deserted island and a girl raised on the ocean… this book is everything I love! EVERYTHING!!!! S.M. Parker has either spent her entire life on a fishing boat off the coast of Maine, or she was a fisherman in a past life, because her lyrical prose had me firmly settled in this spooky coastal town. I felt like I was with Rilla each time she set out on her boat, navigating buoys and low lying fog, hauling up lobster traps and feeling the sea spray on her face. The author is masterful at crafting a setting that seeps into your bones, so that you feel the damp air at the back of your neck and the whispers of ghosts from across the ocean With each page, I was carried away to the shores of Maine. And if the setting of this book isn’t enough to draw you in, the story absolutely will. A mystery to unravel, a girl who haunts the island. And Rilla, a main character who is brave and fierce and is the kind of girl you can’t help but root for. Only one warning: don’t read this book after dark, or if you do, make sure you keep all the lights on. This book haunts me even now, once I’ve finished reading, in all the best ways. It makes me long to explore spooky islands, dig up artifacts, and peruse old photos of people long gone. Oh, and did I mention Sam! Yeah, Sam…… I adore him more than I can express. Two thumbs WAY up. Five gigantic stars. A hundred high-fives. This is one of my favorites of 2017!!!! Do not miss S.M. Parker’s sophomore novel, she outdid herself with this one.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I couldn't wait for the end of the day so I could read more of this book every night. I never thought I would read a book about lobster fisherman, but I became enveloped in the story. I loved the characters and how Rilla would say what she needed to say, but we always get to hear what she's really thinking. I loved Sams character as well. Just a wholesome gentle soul to have as a friend. I didn't want this book to end.
    TheThoughtSpot More than 1 year ago
    Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker. Rilla lives with her grandmother. After her father dies, she’s unsure about college because she worries about leaving her grandmother and she wants to keep her father’s fishing business going. The story is a bit odd but starts to pick up around chapter four when Rilla meets Sam on the small island where he’s doing research on an archeological dig. Sam knows about the Malaga Island history and he shares his research with Rilla. Rilla is worried that she’s following her mother’s footsteps because she’s seeing a ghost and hearing her voice. Rilla’s mother talked to the water people and she left her family when Rilla was very young because she wanted to keep her family safe. All Rilla knows about her mother is that she waded into the ocean with heavy rocks in her pockets weighing her down and then she admitted herself into a mental institution. Rilla has kept the apparition to herself and continues to do so until she grows comfortable enough with Sam to confide in him. She also needs his help to keep herself safe and to figure out the ghostly mystery. Little by little, the two of them piece together the visions and the island’s history and uncover a tragic event that connects Rilla and her family to Malaga Island. I love it when authors share their research with readers and explain their reasoning behind the story they’ve created. When a book is based on historical facts, I always want to dive into the research and study the truth that helped create the fiction. 4 stars for an intriguing story that pulled me into a lesser known part of American history.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    OMG, this book! I have to admit that I'm only half-way through it, but I couldn't wait to recommend The Rattled Bones. Since I opened it two days ago, "just to read the first couple of pages," I haven't been able to put it down. The history is intriguing, the characters and the Maine coast are enchanting, and the ghostly bits add just the right about of mystery and suspense. You can feel the melancholy of Rilla's loss of her parents in sync with the tide of the water people and the lost souls of Malaga. This is balanced so well with Gram's healthy garden and Rilla's bright opportunities for her future. We need more sassy, strong, determined feminine figures like Rilla in YA fiction! A special salute to the fisherWOmen that are breaking stereotypes and making way for the next generation.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    A feminist ghost story gets a HUGE thumbs up from me. S. M. Parker has once again proven that she is an outstanding storyteller. Beautifully crafted, smart, packed with depth and mystery, The Rattled Bones is a work of art that captured me from the first sentence. Its lyrical pages will whisk you away to the sea no matter where you are. Maine’s wild beauty is so well captured within the pages, I could almost hear the crashing waves as I read. It might as well be illustrated. The heart-breaking story of Malaga Island has hidden in the shadows for too long and S. M. Parker has told it the way it deserves to be told, through the eyes of tough and independent Rilla Brae, a teen fisherman who stops labels and stereotypes cold in their tracks. I admired Rilla's determination, was saddened by her grief and loved her sweet relationship with Sam. I found myself turning pages well into the early morning. It was captivating and impossible to put down. This is one of those rare and powerful stories that stays in your heart. I’ll never forget Rilla. Oh, and be prepared to sleep with the lights on.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I listened to The Rattled Bones on audiobook and the story was beautiful and creepy. The story is steeped in the culture and tides of the Maine coast and I could practically feel the salt spray on my face. The characters were my favorite. They felt like real people to me and they were authentic New Englanders for sure! The ending was unexpected and kept me guessing until the end. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good mystery or historical fiction. It's also an important coming of age story.
    TaylerJohn More than 1 year ago
    This was a really great mystery set on the coast of Maine. It was really scary in some parts and I love that. I read this for my English class and wish we could read more books like this.