For some reason, I had expected this book to be about magic and wonder. Perhaps it was the blurb mentioning the child-savant, Isabel? There is magic but horror overwhelms any sense of wonder, including the callous inclusions of horrors no child should have to see.Also disappointing was the time period. I expected it to be contemporary but it turned out to be situated about fifteen years ago, during the tail end of the BSE crisis but before Foot and Mouth became the scourge of the countryside. Digging around, I think the reason is that the novel was originally published in 2001 (see, for example, this review from InfinityPlus, posted that year), just about the time that disease was breaking out. Being in such recent memory but in ignorance of such a major blot on British agriculture leaves it feeling wrong-footed.
Perhaps this will have less impact on those who don’t remember the evil pyres of burning cattle that disfigured the rural landscape or in another fifteen years time but “Feather and Bone” will still only be like an unpleasant dream, populated wisp-like characters who, in some cases, act admirably but never become fully rounded./5.