Anna Bailey: Tall Bones

This review is written with thanks to Pigeonhole for the opportunity to read and review Tall Bones.


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 façade 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….


When I requested Tall Bones from Pigeonhole I had no idea what to expect. I am so glad I chose to read it, as it’s a brilliantly written novel that explores life in a small town in great detail. I was shocked to discover that Tall Bones is Bailey’s debut novel: the writing is so accomplished. 

The atmosphere surrounding Tall Bones is so oppressive and the description made me feel very claustrophobic. I could visualise everything and it made me certain I wouldn’t want to live in Whistling Ridge myself! 

Bailey develops the characters really well and most of them were able to really get under my skin! None of the adults in the novel can really be described as likeable and some of their actions made me want to scream, but the sympathy I felt for the young people waiting for their opportunity to get away is testament to the dislike that Bailey manages to create for her characters. 

At times, Tall Bones is very uncomfortable to read as Bailey writes about some very difficult issues. There are some quite gruesome scenes, but nothing is gratuitous. The experiences of the characters helped me to connect emotionally with this novel.There is a mystery at the centre of Tall Bones and of course I wanted to know what happened to Abi. The reader is given enough clues to guess for themselves before it is actually revealed, but this doesn’t matter: the characters and the dynamics in the village gives the reader plenty to maintain their engagement.

Tall Bones is available from Amazon.

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