Review: Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger

“Never talk to strangers. If someone ever tries to take you, fight with everything you have. Scream as loud as you can. (He’d never told her what to do if the man was too strong and there was no one to hear her screaming.)”



Touchstone | 2016

Filed Under: I see dead people-ing it.

I don’t know why I keep trying books with psychic characters, because I never like them.

Also, apparently, this could technically be considered part of a series called The Hollows, but I have zero experience with Lisa Unger or that series, so perhaps that’s why I’m not as jazzed about this book as other readers have been.

This does read like a standalone for all intents and purposes, though.

Basically what you have here is a twenty-something who is a developing psychic, so she goes to live with her grandmother, who is an experienced psychic, to get her psychic abilities up to snuff. While she’s doing her psychic training she starts to hear a persistent noise – squeak, clink – and her psychic grandmother is all, “that’s your psychic gift telling you to start doing psychic shit,” so she gets onto the case of a missing child, who has some psychic connections in her life as well.

Basically, everyone is a goddamn psychic.

surprised mind reading GIF

I’m not sure how a town full of psychics hasn’t been able to find the answer to “where’d that kid go?” but they haven’t and everyone is distressed; marriages are falling apart and life is just generally terrible.

The opening to this book was dark and attention-grabbing, but also wordy. So, while it did suck me in and intrigue me, I also found that this only happened when it stopped explaining inconsequential things and got to the good stuff. Really, this was also setting the tone for the rest of the book. To me, it was a bit dense in terms of sentence structure and emotion. The thrilling moments were good, but you have to go through the weeds to get there if you know what I mean.

The main character, Finley, was the kind of character that I have a hard time liking because she’s written as if the author is out of touch and trying really hard to make something “cool.” It was giving me trying too hard vibes. Give her tattoos, give her pink hair, give her a motorcycle, make her really angsty and make sure everyone mentions what a spitfire she is, and have someone be totally in love with her because there’s no one else in the world like her!

I could do with less of that. It feels like I’m being force-fed this idea of what a cool girl is, instead of just naturally forming my own opinion based on genuine characteristics.

This thing authors do where the characters are “not like other girls” kind of grinds my gears as well, because what is wrong with other girls?

*gets onto soapbox*

Listen, this is truly directed at everyone, not just authors who perpetuate the culture with characters like this – but at the very least can we recognize the contradiction of hundreds of thousands of females claiming to be “not like other girls” in a chorus? Why is it so mandatory for women to internalize that kind of hate for our gender, for “girly” things, like it’s the only way to be validated or seen as worthy?

“Yes, those other girls are awful, but not me. I’m special. I like beer and football and can kill spiders.” 

What we really should be doing is saying we are not whatever idea of what being a girl has been constructed for us by society, media, etc. Very few of us are that constructed image. We, for some reason, accept it to be true of other females, but not ourselves. “They are like other girls, but not me!”

Hello! That’s bullshit. It’s a fucking lie. And authors should be writing characters that are not dialled up to eleven with all these “not like other girls” traits, and instead try to create robust female characters who feel human because they can comfortably exist within their own personalities without pointing out how interesting we should think they are because they have tattoos or ride a motorcycle.

Also, Merri and Finley aren’t doing anyone any favours by not dumping their cheating boyfriends, and being all wishy-washy on taking these assholes back. It would have been nice to see female characters standing up for how they want to be loved. Just saying.

Thank you for listening.

end rant GIF

I like the small-town feel this novel has. It’s a little bit like a magical, depressive Stars Hollow. It’s got the wise old lady, the veteran detective, the handsome bartender, flawed and grieving parents and some country bumpkins living in the sticks. What more could you want?

Though I did like the characters and the setting quite a bit, I found a lot of the narrative to be filled with overly indulgent scenes focussed on family and personal crises that, to me, didn’t add to the story but took away from the pacing. I have seen a lot of reviews saying this was a good thing for the readers who had experience with The Hollows and had wanted to see that evolution of character development and relationships. And all that may very well be true, but for a first-time reader, it just came across as unnecessary filler.

There are three main POVs in the book, one of which is that of an abducted girl, Penny. And given that we have so much insight into where she is and what is happening to her, this really took any mystery out of the story for me. It turned into less of a “where is Abbey?” storyline, and into something more along the lines of “when are they going to find her?” It was a waiting game of Finley figuring out what her psychic powers were trying to tell her.

This brings me to why I don’t like psychic-themed novels in the first place. There is no way to create a mystery that is an engaging puzzle that isn’t predictable when the characters can see the past and present or can talk to ghosts. You either end up being told the answers to the mystery too early, or you get useless vision clues that amount to nothing more than, “I can tell the children used to play video games in this room.

unimpressed GIF

There was a lot going on in this novel – lots of subplots and characters and information to soak up that most of the time was useless to the outcome, so I was a bit disappointed when I finished the book because I definitely thought it was going to be something different and felt that it didn’t reach its full potential.

It’s not a bad story, and I know I’m a raging negative review monster, but this book didn’t totally click for me. It had some good points and some bad points. Just overall I’m going to have to give it a Bernie Sanders meh.


In this explosive psychological thriller by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger, a young woman’s mysterious gift forces her into the middle of a dangerous investigation of a little girl’s disappearance.

For as long as she can remember, twenty-year-old Finley Montgomery has been able to see into the future. She dreams about events before they occur and sees beyond the physical world, unconsciously using her power to make supernatural things happen.

But Finley can’t control these powers—and there’s only one person who can help. So Finley moves to The Hollows, a small town in upstate New York where her grandmother lives, a renowned seer who can finally teach Finley how to use her gift.

A gift that is proving to be both a blessing and a curse, as Finley lands in the middle of a dangerous investigation involving a young girl who has been missing for ten months and the police have all but given up hope.

With time running out there’s only so much Finley can do as The Hollows begins to reveal its true colors. As she digs deeper into the town and its endless layers, nothing is what it seems. But one thing is clear: The Hollows gets what it wants, no matter what.

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