SKELETAL by Katherine Hayton – BOOK REVIEW

Image obtained from

Image obtained from

By: Katherine Hayton

Publication Date: January 14, 2015

Genre: Young Adult Mystery & Thriller

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐

* I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


An earthquake does minor damage to many buildings in the town of Christchurch, New Zealand in 2014. When construction crews work to move a house they discover a skeleton near the foundation.

An investigation is launched as to who the skeleton belonged to and how it came to be there.

This book flashes back and forth between the 2014 Coroner’s Inquest and the life of fourteen year old Daina Harrow ten years earlier.

Obviously the skeleton belonged to Daina who had been in the 10th form of high school in 2004.

Daina’s mother was a drunk and Daina was pretty much on her own for getting food, clothes and even school supplies. Because of her mother’s drinking they have been forced to move a lot. In fact, Daina has attended two different schools within the past year.

Being the new girl at school is never fun, and Daina’s experience is made worse by the fact that she has been targeted by the local bully – a girl named Michelle.

The flashes between 2004 and 2014 are interesting and the author has done a terrific job of pointing out how the various characters have changed in the intervening years. For instance, Daina’s mother is now sober and has been alcohol free for ten years. Too bad her reformation came about too late to help Daina.

SKELETAL is a who-done-it with a twist and is told from Daina’s point of view: as if her ghost is watching the proceedings in the courtroom. The 2004 scenes are also told from her perspective.

As the story progresses we learn more about Daina, her mother, Michelle and those around them and events seem to take on an inevitable quality.

Readers cannot help but like Daina. “I could’ve wagged school altogether and wandered the streets trying hard to become the person that everyone expected me to be. Instead I was sitting here trying to help someone who probably didn’t want my help and fighting with someone who couldn’t care less what happened … as long as it didn’t cost him any trouble.” It is impossible to not admire her morals and the fact that she was trying to rise above the situation she has found herself in, especially since it was through no fault of her own.

I particularly like the fact that the author chose to portray Daina as a smart girl. Too many books are being written in which the teenage characters are portrayed as beautiful but intellectually challenged. It is also refreshing to read about a character who is focused on her future and who does not see getting a hot boyfriend as the main goal in her life. I think other readers will find this refreshing as well.

Even though the reader knows Daina will end up dead at the end of the story, it is impossible not to hope for the outcome to be different. All the reader can do is be swept up in Daina’s story and hope that what led to her death will be revealed and that if there was a murderer that he (or she) will be caught and held accountable.

This book is an absorbing tale of life as a teenager on the fringes. It is a compelling look into the world of a girl who is struggling to become the woman she knows she can become. It is a story that may not have a happy ending, but despite that fact, readers will be drawn into Daina’s world and will not want to put this book down.

Just when the reader thinks they have the story all figured out it takes an unexpected twist. I love this. It is rare for a book, especially a Young Adult book, to surprise me, but SKELETAL did just that. There are a few lulls in the story, but all in all this book is definitely worth reading. Give it a chance. You’ll be glad you did.

I rate this book as 3.5 out of 5 stars.

About The Author: (From the Book Jacket)

“Katherine Hayton is a shy reticent genius who doesn’t like to be put in the spotlight. She has lived in Christchurch her entire life, and currently resides two blocks away from the house in which she was born. SKELETAL is not her first novel.”

Other titles by Katherine Hayton include: “Found, Near Water” and “One Hundred Days of Noise.”

To learn more about this author visit her official homepage at

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