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Tuesday, February 6, 2024

SPFBO 9 Finalist Review: Hills of Heather & Bone by K.E. Andrews


Book links: AmazonGoodreads

AUTHOR INFO: K.E.Andrews has always been an avid reader, which sparked her passion for writing at an early age. Her love of traveling has taken her to different places around the world. When she's not writing, she tends to her plants, volunteers at church, and enjoys binge-watching shows on Netflix. She currently lives in Powder Springs, Georgia with her family and three cats.

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Publisher: Sonder and Morii publishing (May 20, 2023) Page Count: 414 (Kindle edition) Cover art: Jade Mae Yee


I enjoyed my time with this story. It is self-described as "cottagecore" which I didn't know was a thing. According to Google, cottagecore is "an aesthetic that celebrates simple living, particularly in the countryside," which is accurate for this book. However, Heather and Bone also leans quite heavily into the realm of magic, where select members of society are "bloodgifted" from birth; some can control fire, while others can control beasts or manipulate the earth.

Morana is a boneweaver: she is drawn toward death and can summon and reanimate corpses from deep within the ground. Unfortunately, the boneweaver is the one type of bloodgift that is shunned by society at large. There are agents of the Regency whose driving purpose is to kill or capture all boneweavers, so Morana is constantly on the run. She's forced to leave her family at an early age to go live off the grid in a remote forest. It's a difficult life, coupled with the fact that she's a lifelong sufferer of arthritis and anxiety.

Out in the forest, she meets her future husband Percy, a talented doublegifter who is skilled in both healing and growing roots. Together, Percy and Morana try to eke out a living while staying hidden from those who would separate or kill them. The threats are constant, and the pair frightening challenges every step of the way.

K.E. Andrews writes lush descriptions of the surrounding flora and fauna with plenty of influence from northern U.K. folklore. The romance of the leads is tender and sweet, and the few action scenes are thrilling. The immersive world also drew me in. While I found some areas of the story repetitive, overall I found it well-written and engaging.


Expertly balancing the cosy with the dark, Hills of Heather and Bone is a beautifully bittersweet fantasy story full of endearing characters that will quickly creep under your skin and take root in your heart before you even realise it.

This tells the story of Morana and Percy, a married couple living in hiding from the prejudiced people who would seek to capture Morana for her feared boneweaver magic. After years of trying to establish a somewhat peaceful life for themselves, they are once again forced to go on the run after a violent attack on their home, and this time the stakes are higher than ever before.

I was immediately pulled in by Morana’s intimate first person narration from the very first page, and I related to her ‘doom and gloom’ outlook on the world way more than I’d probably like to admit. Mental health and trauma is so beautifully, authentically, and poignantly explored in this story, and I loved how her anxiety, fears, and worries created an almost intoxicating atmosphere that just kept me in a chokehold.

On the other hand, I also deeply appreciated the counterbalance of Percy’s charmingly positive and sunny personality. At first I almost found him to be a bit too soft and corny, but as the story progressed he quickly grew on me (yes, pun very much intended), and I couldn’t help but adore him for his bad plant puns. The tender yet passionate relationship between them is so heartachingly beautiful, and their undying love and support for each other just bleeds through these pages.

There’s no denying that the characters and their interpersonal relationships are the main focus in Hills of Heather and Bone, but that doesn’t mean the other aspects of the story suffer. I was positively entranced by the atmospheric Scottish-inspired world building, and all the various manifestations of the bloodgifted magic sparked a deep sense of wonder in me. It was especially refreshing to see necromancy depicted in such a positive light, and all the different magical blood gifts tied back so beautifully into the themes of life and nature that permeate every aspect of this story.

Now, I can see how some more action-driven readers might bounce off the slow middle section in Hills of Heather and Bone, but I honestly just ate up all the quiet, (semi-) peaceful, and introspective moments full of character- and relationship building. To me, this story was incredibly emotionally engaging and just inexplicably unputdownable, even to the point that I read the last 65% in one sitting. Andrews simply entranced me with her lush and evocative prose, and all the emotional beats hit in a way I totally wasn’t prepared for.

The ending, especially the epilogue, was beautifully bittersweet and left me equally satisfied and hungering for more. This might only be my first book by Andrews, but I already feel confident in saying that I want to read everything she has ever written and will ever write. What a masterful storyteller!

If you are looking for a character-driven and emotionally resonant story of survival, endurance, grief, loss, hope, love, unexpected friendships, family, and belonging, then you have to check out Hills of Heather and Bone. Oh, and it’s also got a spiteful chicken, do I really need to say more?


Hills of Heather & Bone is a book that stands out in several ways, yet it's a bit like Marmite – you either love it or you don't. When the vibes are right, some readers will love it. Others won't. For me, it didn't quite hit the mark. While I appreciate its portrayal of disability and its focus on a married couple without unnecessary romantic drama, I found the plot to be repetitive and the writing overly ornate for my taste. I'm at a loss for what else to say; it simply didn't resonate with me.




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