On the Horizon – break the bodies, haunt the bones (Micah Dean Hicks)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Here be me honest musings. . .

Title: break the bodies, haunt the bones

Author: Micah Dean Hicks

Publisher: John Joseph Adams / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Publication Date: Available Now !!! (hardback/e-book)

ISBN: 978-1328566454

Source: NetGalley

The totally awesome cover is what led me to find out more about this book and the weird premise is what drew me in.  This book takes place in a dying American town called Swine Hill.  The only thing stopping the town from total annihilation is a pork processing plant whose workers have little hope and no resources to start anew.  Economic troubles would be bad enough but then there be the ghosts.  Generations of angry and depressed dead are tied to the town and its residents.  If ye aren’t careful yer body can become a host for one or more restless spirits.

This book centers around one such haunted family.  Jane has carried her ghost since she was a young girl.  Her ghost reads other people’s thoughts and also likes to offer commentary on Jane’s own inner desires and feelings.  Jane considers her a friend but it’s a double-edged relationship.  Her brother, Henry, harbors the ghost of a tinker and scientist.  The two minds together can come up with marvels.  However, this ghost sometimes subsumes the boy when a particular problem catches his fancy.  The problem gets solved but Henry is completely blank of all memories of the solution and the missing time.  Their mother has been consumed by a ghost with an overwhelming need to be loved.  This love is so selfish and strong that it literally burns the flesh of her lovers.  Her children cannot touch her for fear of being scalded.  Their father is a human automaton who left the family, became homeless, and roams the streets.  He shuns all company and the ghosts shun him.  Neither Jane nor her brother know why.  Talk about family dysfunction.

The highlight of this book for me was the complexities of the world building around Swine Hill.  Its depressive nature is pervasive and yet it be rich with unusual  ideas and imagery.  The ghost elements were absolutely fascinating and I loved the diverse effects of spirit inhabitation.  There was also an odd but sad robot and animal hybrids.  This book led to excellent questions about humanity, economics, brutality, fear, greed, loss, and tenacity.  The world felt real and gritty and very unpleasant.  And yet the residents continued to hang onto survival even if the war has been lost.  Though hope is missing, there is still the desire for comfort at any cost.  I honestly wanted better for Jane and Henry.  The story couldn’t end well given the rules of the world but I had to know the resolution.  And I truly liked what I was given.

I don’t know if I could legitimately recommend this to anyone because it is so unique and weird and gritty.  But I admit that I am so very glad that I read this book and I look forward to seeing what else this author has in store.  For a debut, it is wonderful.  Arrrr!

So lastly . . .

Thank you John Joseph Adams / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt!

Goodread’s website has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Micah Dean Hicks – Author

To buy the novel go to:

break the bodies, haunt the bones – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

12 thoughts on “On the Horizon – break the bodies, haunt the bones (Micah Dean Hicks)

  1. It all sounded cool, like how the people in the town live, but then at the end of the Goodsreads description and made it sound like this was going to be a book about outsiders taking jobs, and that suggestion is weighty in 2019. How did the author deal with the newcomers?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well that is a weighty question in 2019 and I have to admit I paid no attention to the societal ramifications of our current world while reading. After some thought, the best I can tell ye without spoiling it is that the ‘outsiders” are not immigrants or from other close towns. I will say that in the beginning I thought they were kinda weird and by the end I was kinda rooting for them. The author made a bold choice to highlight corporate greed and otherness. It’s an odd mix of outsourcing, technical advances, and other sci-fi elements. But when reading, I was more focused on the dying town portion of things because no matter what that town was on its last legs. I have lived in several places that felt like that before. Hope that makes sense.
      x The Captain


      1. I think this book sounds really interesting, and I think you’ve sold me on it! I totally read Sourdough after I read your review. I listened to the audiobook and felt like it went on a bit too long. My favorite part was the Lois club, and they were not present in the book often enough!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am so glad someone else read sourdough! So weird and made me happy. I do think it was a wee bit long too. And aye, the Lois Club should have been used more. Those ladies were so funny. I am glad ye be willing to give this one a shot too. It is unique and if it doesn’t work for ye then ye can abandon it. But I do hope ye tell me what yer thoughts be regardless. It has been nice chatting with ye over multiple posts matey!
        x The Captain


      3. Hardy har har!!! Aliens! I thought the sourdough was weird enough. Though me sister just read a thriller where the reveal was aliens and she was soooo confused. She doesn’t do fantasy or sci-fi. Aliens and sci-fi is gonna make me chuckle for days now. Thanks for brighening up me Monday.
        x The Captain

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds like a really weird book and concept. The title makes it sound like a nursery rhyme to me (granted, a messed up one). It doesn’t sound like a book that’s up my alley, but I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I knew ye would be the one to like this kinda book! It is so strange and weirdly wonderful. Layers to this read for sure. I do hope ye read it because I would like to hear yer thoughts about it. And it hasn’t been archived yet on NetGalley if ye want to take a shot at an eArc. Arrr!
      x The Captain


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