The Bone Roots, by Gabriela Houston

The Book

The Bone Roots
Pages: 376
Age Group: Adult
Published on 10/10/2023
Publisher: Angry Robot
Dark Fantasy
Available on:


A tale of two mothers, each desperate to protect her child. But only one of them can succeed. And only one of them knows why.

The Bone Roots is a slavic-folklore inspired fantasy that explores how far a mother will go to protect her child…

It’s been 40 years since the Fox took Kada’s brother. Though she ran and kept herself hidden, she fears it may be stalking her again, this time to steal her daughter.Every year, Vedma Kada gives thanks to the bone roots – those that belong to the child-bearing tree who gave Kada her desperately-wanted baby, Secha. Kada lives her life in service of the bone roots and the goddess Zemya, but they cannot keep her daughter safe. Not when Secha’s emerging powers, both mysterious and brutish, threaten to out her for who she truly is…

Meanwhile Sladyana, a rich noblewoman, has spent the last fifteen years searching for her missing daughter, Luba. She was snatched from their home by the Fox thief and Sladyana has heard nothing from her since. But the one who gave Sladyana her daughter has come within her grasp once again, and so has the secret of her daughter’s fate.  

My Review

The Bone Roots is a dark fantasy novel inspired by Slavic influenced, written by the Polish author Gabriela Houston, and published by Angry Robot Books. It is the tale of two women, two mothers, that will be pushed to their limits by their love for their daughters; a story exploring the force of motherhoods.

The book's plot will be told using a dual POV of two women, from different social origins and in different positions; however, both are mothers who love unconditionally their daughters.
The first one of them is Kada, a vedma, servant of the goddess Zemya, and for the rest of the people, a sort of healer/wise woman that helps them. She has a daughter, who will soon become sixteen years old, who starts manifesting different and unsetting things; Kada wants to keep them hidden and not attract attention.
On the other hand, we have Sladyana, a rich aristocratic woman, who lost a daughter to the fox sixteen years ago; she has another one with some communication problems, being scared of losing her, almost paranoid. Coming from a higher status, she's kinda despotic to those lower than her; and suspects of Kada and her daughter as causes of the disappearing.

Both stories get woven by Houston in this Slavic inspired world, following how these two mothers are doing their best to keep their daughters safe. Houston explores the limits of motherhood power in this society where women must move with extreme care, Kada especially.

Houston tells a highly emotional story, using an almost lyrical prose that embellishes a Polish inspired world which is quite dark once we are immersed in it; many details like the deities and the magic are inspired by Slavic mythology, including terms from the same origin.
The pacing is relatively slow, being this a novel more about the characters and how their lives develop in this rural setting, a quite contemplative plot that encloses really dark outcomes.

The Bone Roots is a great fantasy for those that are looking for authentic Slavic influences, a well-crafted novel exploring how far a mother will go to defend her children. If you like lyrical prose, different mythologies and are in the look for powerful women characters, give The Bone Roots a try.

The Author/s

Gabriela Houston

Gabriela Houston

Gabriela Houston is a London-based writer. She was born in Poland and raised in a book-loving household on the nourishing diet of mythologies, classics and graphic novels. She had spent much of her early school years holed up in the library, only feeling truly herself in the company of Jack London’s trappers and Lucy Maud Montgomery’s red-headed orphan, among many others.

She came to the UK at 19 to follow her passion for literature and she completed her undergraduate and Masters degrees at Royal Holloway, University of London.

After her studies she worked in publishing for a few years. She now lives with her family in Harrow, where she pursues her life-long passion for making stuff up.

She’s represented by John Baker from Bell Lomax Moreton Agency.