E-galley Review: To the Bone by J.R. Johansson

Posted November 6, 2020 by Lisa Mandina in Review / 2 Comments

I received this book for free from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

E-galley Review: To the Bone by J.R. JohanssonTo The Bone by J.R. Johansson
on August 25, 2020
Genres: YA Thriller
Pages: 276
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Format: E-galley
My Rating: five-stars
Buy on AmazonBuy on Barnes & Noble


Seventeen-year-old Harley Martin has been obsessed with Paris for years. Between her passion for studying architecture and wanting to spend time with her cousin, Gretchen, there’s nowhere on Earth that she’d rather go. So when Harley’s parents feel guilty enough about their constant fighting to offer to send Harley to visit her cousin, Gretchen, she doesn’t hesitate.

But Gretchen and Harley have both changed in the years they’ve been apart. In an effort to rekindle their friendship, Harley agrees to Gretchen’s suggested activity, even though it’s outside her comfort zone: a tour with Gretchen and her friends through the off-limits section of the Paris Catacombs. Miles and miles of tunnels deep under the city, filled with the remains of more than six million people.

When a cave-in kills their guide and leaves the group injured, terrified, and lost with limited supplies, they must search for a way out from the endless maze beneath the city of light. But surrounded by shadows, it’s hard to tell friends from enemies. Harley doesn’t know if she can trust anyone, including her own cousin. If they ever want to get back to the surface, they’ll have to fight for everything they hold dear–for their sanity, their humanity, their very lives–in a place that only embraces death.

My Review:

First off, this is one of my all time favorite authors that I don’t think gets enough attention. And this book came out in Spanish first, so I had to wait until it was available in English to read. And as usual, Johansson’s story blew me away! I could totally see this as a horror movie. There’s always the thought that maybe there is more to the story, more than just a murder mystery, maybe the dead really are coming to life in the catacombs and do really want revenge for the disrespect people give them by wandering through in the tours.

But then there are so many little hints and clues that kept me formulating all the different scenarios for who could actually have been committing the murders. Was it really someone in their group? Were these “cataphiles” maybe people who had some kind of cult and were killing them for their own reasons. Or was Harley hallucinating and not really knowing what she was doing, could she have been behind it all and not known? The author leaves so many hints and clues and things to make you doubt what you might think you know as you read.

The environment was so beautifully haunting and described so vividly it was like being there with the group as they were trying to find their way out of the tunnels that were supposed to be off limits, without their tour guide.

There was just enough extra at the beginning of the chapters after they were down there to also keep you wondering what if it wasn’t all really happening. How long would they be down there?

A wonderful book, one I can’t wait to add to my school library for my students to read and enjoy.

If you’ve never read this author, I’d suggest starting with the first book I read by her, Insomnia.

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2 responses to “E-galley Review: To the Bone by J.R. Johansson

    • Lisa Mandina

      I don’t think it got as much publicity as it should have because I think it was a self-pub and she published in Spanish first too. But I love her books, and this one was a winner too! Thanks for stopping by!

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