Stephen King fans take note: Shannon M. Parker's sophomore YA novel The Rattled Bones takes the horror icon's Bag of Bones and twists it into a feminist ghost story you're going to love (and be scared of). And while it won't be available until August 22, 2017, don't panic: Bustle exclusively can reveal the cover, and Simon Pulse is revealing the opening pages of The Rattled Bones for you to read now.
In the place of 40-something novelist Mike Noonan grieving the loss of his wife is the badass 17-year-old Rilla Brae, a Maine lobster boat captain mourning her father's death.
"I love when female protagonists challenge traditional gender roles so I'm excited for readers to meet Rilla Brae. She's a teen lobster boat captain working in the male-dominated fisheries and she's fierce. Strong as the sea," Shannon M. Parker, aka S.M. Parker tells Bustle.
(Let's just say this is only the first The Girl Who Fell's Parker's shifts from the original we can really get behind.)
After Rilla's dad's unexpected death, the veil between the living and the dead starts to blur and dissolve, and Rilla begins seeing a girl haunting the shores of an abandoned island. The girl floats a song over the waves, sounding familiar and yet distant, and it lures Rilla to the island. Is she really seeing what she thinks she is, or is Rilla just overcome with grief?
Everything changes for the independent Rilla again when she meets college archaeology student Sam, who is tasked with excavating the island where the ghost girl appeared, looking for the cultural remains of former island inhabitants who were forcibly evicted from their home nearly 100 years ago. As Rilla starts to work with Sam, her ghostly visions only enhance, and the two discover an old tragedy that directly effects our lobster boat captain.
The Rattled Bones, Parker tells Bustle, isn't just a ghost story (though it is a fantastic one at that), it also explores gender dynamics in male-dominated fishing industries, grief, forced institutionalization, college access, eugenics, and the idea that buried secrets will never stay buried.
“The Rattled Bones is an exploration of how stories always rise to the surface, even after generations,” Parker tells Bustle. “This book is about seeing the ways in which we are all connected, through love and grief and time and everything in between.”
And while The Rattled Bones is fiction, it is rooted in a real place with real tragedies.
"Rilla's personal journey sheds light on Maine's Malaga Island where a racially-motivated tragedy occurred nearly a hundred years ago," Parker says to Bustle. "Few people talk about what happened on the island, even today. I hope this novel helps to introduce readers to a piece of our collective history that should have never been silenced."
And you guys, the cover is hauntingly beautiful, aka perfect for the story.
And though the story has so much to say outside of the haunting plot, Parker ensures readers that we're going to be straight-up terrified, which is probably the most fun way to read:
"At its heart, The Rattled Bones is a mystery, a ghost story. There are lots of creepy bits that will make your skin crawl."
Images: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster