Review of Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland #LoveBooksTour @22_Ireland @PolygonBooks

In today's post, I'm delighted to share my review of Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland with you.

My thanks to Polygon for giving me an advance copy of the book. My views are my own and in no way influenced by the gift of the copy.

Bone Deep

What happens when you fall in love with the wrong person? The consequences threaten to be far-reaching and potentially deadly. Bone Deep is a contemporary novel of sibling rivalry, love, betrayal and murder. This is the story of two women: Mac, who is bent on keeping the secrets of the past from her only son, and the enigmatic Lucie, whose past is something of a closed book. Their story is underpinned by the creaking presence of an abandoned water mill, and haunted by the local legend of two long-dead sisters, themselves rivals in love, and ready to point an accusing finger from the pages of history.


I put down my pen and sag against the back of the chair. I’ve been sitting here since 6 a.m., and now that the words are finally flowing I can’t let them go. Things have been a bit stuck of late, ideas bobbing around like fish, and me grown too slow to catch them. But this morning things feel different, as though Lucie’s arrival has brought a gust of fresh air, stirring up the leaves of my imagination.

I’d asked her about her family a couple of times, but her replies have been rather muted. I gather she has a sister, but there’d been no warmth to her description. I’d nodded knowingly at the time. Sibling rivalry. You get that with sisters. Best not to dwell on it. It had reminded me of something though, this sister thing. What was it now?

That evening I’d gone through all the dusty old volumes on my bookshelves, not quite sure what I was looking for. I stretch my arms out in front of me, flex my fingers and rotate my neck. Something cracks, and my insides shrink accordingly. I’m getting paranoid, waiting for the next little blip, holding my health up to the light like a badly stitched seam. I’m getting frayed.

Somewhere in the house, a key grates in a lock. The front door opens, and a ghastly echo carries along the passages. The hall always has that empty-house ring to it, regardless of how many bits and bobs I pad it out with. The sound of footsteps carries towards me. That will be Arthur. My heart sinks and immediately I go into guilty mode. I am a bad mother. A can’t-be-bothered mother. My eyes drop automatically, going to the photograph on the desk. My own mother, wartime drab but happy in a floral tea dress she’d knocked up from remnants. We have bad mother genes, I suspect. There is a coldness in us. I remember Mother feeding a poorly dog tinned salmon while we kids scoffed bread and dripping. The thing is, I fear I’m heading for the ultimate fail. The leaving-your-child fail.


It takes a good book to have me unable to do anything else for the entire day because I just can't stop reading, but that's exactly what happened with me with this book! I started it one Sunday morning, intending to read for an hour or so as it was a sunny day and I could sit out and relax with a book - a rare event for me. From the opening chapter, I was hooked and just wanting to know more about these characters and I finished the book the same afternoon!

The book opens with the arrival of Lucie to come and be a "Girl Friday" for Mac, a retired academic who is writing a book of local folk tales. The novel is told from both Lucie's and Mac's perspectives, in alternating chapters. Running through the book is the story of "Two Sisters" which seems to have echoes for both of the women's lives. Both women have secrets to hide and for both of them, there is danger in the secrets being discovered.

The writing is beautiful and the characters incredibly well drawn. I can clearly see all of the characters as fully formed people, living at Fettermore, the fictional location of the book, to the extent that I feel as if I could just pop up the road and find the whole village, with the mill, Mac, Lucie, Aurthur and all. It's a rare gift for a writer to make you feel that you've just peeked into the life of a character and that their lives went on before you were allowed to see them and will continue on afterwards. Sandra Ireland does just this with the book.

The pace of the book is excellent, with the glimpses of the secrets as they are revealed, keeping me turning the page to find out more. I don't want to give too much away, because the beauty is in letting the stories unfold - Mac's, Lucie's and of course, the Two Sisters.

Sandra's first book Beneath the Skin was shortlisted for the Saltire First Book of the Year award in 2017 and Bone Deep is already appearing on lists of books not to be missed in 2018, and deservedly so. This was a brilliant read. I loved it from the first sentence to the last.

About the author:

Sandra Ireland was born in Yorkshire, lived for many years in Limerick, and is now based in Scotland. She began her writing career as a correspondent on a local newspaper but quickly realised that fiction is much more intriguing than fact. She returned to higher education in her 40s to study for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Dundee University. In 2016 she won Creative Scotland funding for a residency at Barry Mill, a National Trust for Scotland property. Her debut novel was Beneath the Skin.

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