I've read only a few of Nina Kiriki Hoffman's books (including the sequel to this one) and stories, but I've liked their clear, evocative language, and their simple, unaffected characters. I opened The Thread That Binds the Bones with enthusiasm. I left the book with less.
The book starts well, with the same strong prose, the same engaging characters. Unfortunately, what Hoffman gains in simplicity, she loses in credibility. All her main characters are amiable and affable, and they solve all their disagreements with a friendly word or two. It's not credible, and it quickly becomes so flat as to be both facile and painful. There's a fair amount of repetition - of circumstance, philosophy, simplistic life lessons. Characters either gush or sulk (but only briefly). The big, bad, evildoer is readily (and quickly) redeemed, and accepted by all (including his victim), replaced by a diabolus ex machina who's only barely sketched in.
I found the book severely disappointing. It's not bad per se, but it's far from the elegant work that I expected from seeing Hoffman's other work. The approach is in some ways suitable to a YA audience, but frankly I think some of the life lessons provided aren't so wise. For staunch Hoffman fans only.