Review: The Bone Cay by Eliza Nellums

Title: The Bone Cay by Eliza Nellums
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the critically acclaimed author of All That’s Bright and Gone comes an atmospheric thriller that unearths a cache of age-old secrets–and a hidden danger–in the Florida Keys.

Magda Trudell is the present-day caretaker of Whimbrel Estate, the Key West home of the famous poet Isobel Reyes. Isobel’s suicide at the residence in 1918 has nearly overshadowed her creative legacy–but Magda, a botanist and avid historian, is determined to protect it. Over the past decade, Magda has lovingly restored the house to the exact condition Isobel would have known. And even though a fierce October hurricane is headed straight for the Keys, she isn’t about to abandon her life’s work to evacuate.

As the mighty storm makes landfall, the dangers mount. First, a fire and flood threaten to destroy the house. Then the storm claims most of Magda’s supplies. When part of the house collapses, she unearths an old steamer trunk in the rubble that contains a woman’s remains. Is there more to Isobel’s story than Magda knows?

The unexpected appearance of a teenage girl and her father seeking shelter from the storm poses unnerving new questions. Are they really who they seem? And could they have a connection to the house’s shadowy past? As the storm rages, Magda desperately tries to solve the real mystery of Isobel’s death–and keep the living in one piece.


The Bone Cay by Eliza Nellums is a fast-paced mystery with a unique storyline.

Historian Magda Trudell is obsessed with poet Isobel Reyes. She works at Isobel’s family home, Whimbrel Estate, in Key West. Isobel died in 1918 and Magda is dedicated to bringing Whimbrel back to its former glory. But funding is tight, so she has only managed to complete the first floor. With a possibly deadly hurricane bearing down on Florida, Magda refuses to evacuate so she can protect Isobel’s treasures. With the hurricane raging around her, Magda is shocked when handyman Hank McGrath returns by boat with his teenage daughter Emily. Although her attention mainly focused on a shocking discovery, she cannot help but worry about Emily. Can Magda protect the historical home and keep everyone’ safe ?

After an unsettled childhood with her musician father, Magda has set down roots in Key West. She discovered Isobel’s poems while on the road with her father and she immediately connected to the poet’s words. Magda is fiercely protective of Isobel’s history and she is determined to keep the Whimbrel Estates’ treasures, house and property as safe as she can during the hurricane.

Trouble ensues almost immediately as Magda makes costly mistakes. She is less than thrilled when Hank and Emily arrive but she has no choice but to ask them to join her. Magda is distracted by what she just unearthed but she realizes something is just a little off with father and daughter. Her uneasiness grows as the hurricane worsens and dangerous flooding threatens to overtake the house. However, Magda soon learns that she might be in more danger than just the hurricane.

The Bone Cay is an intense mystery with a clever storyline. Magda’s obsession with Isobel is a distraction as she rides out the hurricane with people she finds difficult to trust. The setting vividly springs to life and it is impossible not to feel the extreme threat posed by the hurricane. The storyline is well-developed with stunning twists. Magda is a little irritating as she continually puts herself in peril because she makes unsound decisions. Emily is a sympathetic character but is she telling Magda the truth? Hank becomes more menacing as Eliza Nellums brings this suspenseful mystery to a pulse-pounding conclusion.

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