My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Daina Harrow, forever 14 in the afterlife, following her grisly death as a Coroner’s Court convenes to consider the case of her bones, recently discovered on a building site following a decade in the ground. The story moves in time from Daina’s post-mortem thoughts to her last living days in a suburb of Christchurch, New Zealand. Daina has not had a happy life: following a tragedy when she was young, her parents separated, her mother turned to drink and drugs and she rarely saw her father. Despite this, she’s a resilient teenager, who manages to look after herself and do well at school, although this is repeatedly hampered by her mother constantly moving homes and Daina having to move schools. In her latest school, Daina quickly catches the attention of a cruel bully, a superior school secretary, and a young teacher. As the cast of characters line up to give their testimony, Daina commentates on proceedings and takes us through the events that led to her death.
Skeletal is a riveting story. I always enjoy a story with multiple timelines or narrators and this was no exception. The mystery of what happened to Daina is compelling but the book is much more than this. It is also part drama, part YA fiction and, partway through, just when you think you know where the story is going, it veers off at an unexpected tangent. Parts of the book are very moving and completely heart-breaking, but there are also a few funny moments to lift the mood, and there are many exciting and thrilling moments. It is very well written, with believable characters and realistic dialogue. I have no hesitation in recommending Katherine Hayton to all. Reviewed by Julia for Readers’ Favorite.