Cooking With Bones

Cooking With Bones is Jess Richards' critically acclaimed second novel, published by Sceptre in April 2013.


My sister is a formwanderer: she is a mirror of want. Each person she meets sees what they want, when they look at her. And she changes for each pair of eyes.

Two sisters, fleeing the city of Paradon, find their way to a village by the sea, where Old Kelp's cottage - and her recipe book - await them.

Amber feels this is where she finally belongs, baking honey cakes each night for the villagers to collect in the morning, using a set of bone spoons that allow her to add truth, lust and confusion to her pies and puddings.

Her little sister Maya is a formwanderer, engineered to reflect the wants of others. All her life she has been like a twin to Amber, but now Amber has changed her mind, and wants Maya to learn how to be herself.

Kip, a child growing up amongst the songs and stories of the village, delivers Amber's ingredients. When an act of terrible violence stirs and sets free the secrets of a generation, only one of these three can reveal the truth...

Cooking With Bones Cover Art

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About The Author

See all published works by Jess Richards on her books page.

Read about Jess Richards at her author biography page.

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Praise For Cooking With Bones

The Big Issue
"This is sci-fi Mary Berry style, with a twist of gothic. Think gingerbread house, witches and power."

Toby Palfreyman, Waterstones
"Cooking With Bones is phenomenal and once again proves Richards is a brilliant author. Deep and beautifully constructed, Richards’ second novel is sure to engross and engage first time readers. If you are already a fan however why are you reading this? You should be nose deep in the book itself by now."

Karla Brading, Goodreads
"A brilliantly peculiar book: Cooking With Bones by Jess Richards. Never read anything like it. So many twisted characters, yet you can't help but love them. Highly recommended."

Ani Johnson, The Bookbag
"I know the philosophical nuggets are there waiting to be extracted from a story that works even without the deeper understanding I'm looking for. However this does give me an excuse, if one were needed, to return to the surreal world that I enjoyed visiting so much the first time and to be subsumed by it once again."

David Hebblethwaite, David's Book World
"Cooking with Bones is, quite simply, one of the best books I have read this year. Its vision is so confident and complete, its language a joy. Cooking With Bones is a novel that draws you so completely into its world that it is hard to step out again. Whilst you’re there, it is a delight. Now I need to go back and read Richards’ debut, Snake Ropes; and you should definitely read this book."

Workshy Fop
"Cooking with Bones showcases Richards’s ability to write with powerful imagination and invent distinctive voices for her characters. She moves between settings and narrative voices seamlessly, creating a world which is at once magical and unsettling."

Blair, Learn This Phrase
"I really loved this book. It's so rare to find something so unpredictable and unique yet so coherent, interesting and memorable. It's beautifully written - lyrical and evocative (with distinct voices for the three protagonists) but not so much that it feels pretentious or stops you from relating to the characters."

Selected Comments from Amazon Vine

"Every now and then, a novel comes along that generates a shift in the way one looks at the world as a result of reading it. Jess Richards' latest novel, "Cooking With Bones" is one such book. The book is hard to classify: at one level it's a fairy story; at another, it's a ghost story; and at yet another it's a contemporary morality play delving deep into a whole variety of issues."

"Cooking With Bones is wild, beautiful, playful, sensual, frightening: it's a feast for the senses and the imagination. The writing is so full of texture, scent and colour that the reader will almost be able to taste it. This book is also a feast for the mind, subverting boundaries and meanings. It's the kind of fiction that will change over time and blossom under interrogation, offering up something different on each subsequent reading. Jess Richards is a vibrant new voice in literary fiction and I will definitely be seeking out more of her work in the future."

"The story is brilliantly conceived and superbly well-executed not only from the point of view of the prose, which is a delight to read from beginning to end, but also in its dramatic structure, which unfolds with perfect pacing and masterful misdirection throughout."

"I thoroughly enjoyed Cooking With Bones, and on a side note, I loved the recipe for rum truffles, I actually made them too, however, wasn't too keen on the crushed nuts, so left them out of the next batch and they were fab, passed them around to some of my family who were thrilled, especially my aunt as they are her favourites."

"Ultimately Richards is an incredible story teller but lets her characters do the talking. Featuring a genetically engineered 'form-wanderer', a girl created to mirror other people's desires, and her non-engineered sister, Cooking with Bones charts the escape of the girls to a rural backwater in a world that is so parallel to our own that you can't but help shiver."

"I totally love this. Jess Richards is an amazing writer. With "Cooking with Bones" she captures Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood. If you loved 'The handmaids tale', 'Oryx & Crake' and 'The year of The Flood' this should be essential purchase. Pre-order today, I have, as I want to own the Hardback. I've ordered the hardback of her debut "Snake Ropes" too. This is a highly original book. Love at first paragraph..."

"In my opinion, Jess Richards is a writer of immense talent, and she gets full marks for daring originality from me. I can't wait for her next offering where only one thing is certain: expect the unexpected."

"I'm just so taken with Jess Richards' writing - I read her first book (Snake Ropes) a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it. Second novels can be difficult, so I wasn't sure what to expect from this one. But, once again, it's a complete delight. Beautifully written and easy to read, but also thought provoking and disturbing in just the right ways. A must read."

"Making comparisons with another author can often be a curse, but Jess Richards reminds me - on the basis of Cooking With Bones - of Margaret Atwood, of whom I'm a great admirer. Jess Richards style is incredible lyrical - she writes beautifully, quite poetically, in fact, and she explores deep emotions, while spinning an enchanting and compelling story. I highly recommend this book."

"Most original with surprising and memorable turns of phrase. Jess looks at the smallest events through sharp eyes and from unexpected perspectives. A genuine future awaits this author."