Brick Dust and Bones
M. R. Fournet
Feiwel & Friends
Published July 18, 2023
About Brick Dust and Bones
A twelve-year-old cemetery boy and monster hunter–along with his flesh-eating mermaid friend–has to race against the clock to save the ghost of his dead mother in Brick Dust and Bones, M.R. Fournet’s magical middle grade debut.
Marius Grey hunts Monsters. He’s not supposed to. He’s only twelve and his job as a Cemetery Boy is to look after the ghosts in his family’s graveyard. He should be tending these ghosts and–of course–going to school to learn how to live between worlds without getting into trouble.
But, Marius has an expensive goal. He wants to bring his mother back from the dead, and that takes a LOT of mystic coins, which means a LOT of Monster Hunting, and his mother’s window to return is closing.
If he wants her back, Marius is going to have to go after bigger and meaner monsters, decide if a certain flesh-eating mermaid is a friend or foe, and avoid meddling Demons and teachers along the way. Can Marius navigate New Orleans’s gritty monster bounty-hunting market, or will he have to say goodbye to his mother forever?
Darker middle grade (or YA) isn’t something I have a lot of experience reading, so I was a little nervous picking up this book. I’d never heard of it until a copy from the publisher arrived in the mail, but I wanted to check it out. Darker books have surprised me before, after all. (See THE PLENTIFUL DARKNESS by Heather Krassner or THE DARKDEEP by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs.)
Some of the imagery is very creepy. Monsters stand over sleeping children. What appears to be a woman unzips her skin and a green, sinewy monster steps out. Things like that.
What I truly loved about this story is Marius. He’s alone and lonely, desperate to save his mother and protect his best friend, a monster mermaid who has sworn off eating humans. Marius bravely faces monsters, stopping them from hurting children. At one point, he encounters a boy who indicates he’s being abused. Marius gifts the boy a magical necklace to protect him.
While this isn’t a book that readers in my house (who all seem to have vivid nightmares easily inspired by books or movies), I could see readers who love scary stories eating this one up. It has great characters and a very immersive story world.
A second book in the series is currently scheduled for release next summer.
Recommended for Ages 10 to 14.
Marius is described as being basically shades of gray rather than a member of a specific race. Minor characters are POC.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Kiss between boy and girl.
Marius encounters a boogeyman who feeds on the souls of children. A magic book captures monsters through a recited spell. Marius visits various magical shops and encounters other magical creatures and people who possess magic, like witches. His family is responsible for the care of the ghosts in the graveyard where he lives. Some humans enter a pact with a demon in which they temporarily receive power but owe their soul to the demon.
Situations of peril and scary imagery, such as monsters trying to attack a child.
References to adult characters telling stories while they’re drunk.
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