This is the place for book reviews and book-related round-ups or lists. I read all sorts of things, but book reviews here will mostly be of the science fiction, fantasy, YA, historical fiction, or contemporary fiction variety. My reviews are based on a) how much I enjoyed reading a book and b) the quality of the writing; there is not an exact balance or recipe for how I come up with my final rating, but those are the points I consider. Also, I read a LOT more books than I do full reviews on, so if you want the full rundown of activity, find me on Goodreads. You can also check out my list of Recommended Reads.
The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1)
by Rin Chupeco.
Tea finds out her magic isn’t like the other witches in her family in a decisive and unexpected way: she inadvertently raises her brother from the dead. This marks her as a bone witch, with power over death rather than one of the more common elements. She’s apprenticed to an older bone witch and moves to a training house in the city, to learn control over her powers and the duties of an asha (a powerful warrior witch that also functions something like a geisha). Her brother (her familiar) accompanies her. There is the usual training montage and house politics, and the setup of a love triangle. The world-building is well-done. The role of the ashas, the bone witches in relation to demons, and the heartglasses that everyone carries are all interesting and nuanced. It’s a great setting for the adventure and intrigue that ensue.
The story unfolds in two alternating parts. The first part is Tea in the present, banished to an isolated beach where a bard visits her to learn her tale. The second part is Tea’s telling to that bard, of her past and her journey as a bone witch. Along the way we get hints (and later some big ol’ give-aways) at how those two storylines meet up. Tellingly, her brother is not with her on the beach, though she mentions a dead boy she mourns. She also demonstrates a surprising new power in relation to the demons.
I’m a bit annoyed with the end of this first book. Instead of keeping the mystery of Tea’s lost love going for book 2, it gets revealed, and to me, that really ruined the momentum of the story. It gave away too much about how certain relationships are going to go. Along similar lines, the launch of her ultimate mission at the end had the same effect- it was too definitive, too demonstrative. The author sped right past foreshadowing into just telling you what happens later, without all of the good lead-up stuff in the middle. It ruins the ending, and likely subsequent books. I get what she was going for (a kind of present and past dichotomy like in The Name of the Wind) but she doesn’t pull it off as well.
I may still pick up book 2, despite this, because it is an interesting world the author has built. And aside from having given away key points of how Tea gets to her present, I am still interested to see how her new mission goes and what comes of that. If you like fantasy tales with a bit of a dark shading, give this a try.
I give it 3.5/5 stars.
I received a free advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Chasing Embers (Ben Garston #1) by James Bennett. What if all of our myths were true? When humanity started to really dominate the planet, the creatures of legend and folklore banded together to form the Pact. In order to escape humanity’s notice (and persecution), only one individual of each kind of creature would be allowed to remain, the others passing into a Sleep until the day a lasting peace might be achieved. The Remnants who stayed awake agreed to keep a low profile, not fight one another, and help enforce the Pact on any who broke it. Red Ben Garston […]
Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James. In this alternate England, magically-gifted aristocrats (Equals) rule the land, while ungifted commoners must serve 10 years as slaves. When in their life they serve those 10 years is up to them, but serve it they must. Not everyone is happy about this arrangement. The slavetowns are backbreaking and bleak, and it’s becoming more clear that being Skilled with magic is not the straight genetic shot everyone thought it was. Three young people find themselves in the midst, in different ways, of this political turmoil and magical hotbed. Luke, a teenage boy, […]
Raven Song (Inoki’s Game #1) by I.A. Ashcroft. A century from now, after widespread nuclear war, humanity is clinging to a few select cities, kept safe from radiation by their force field domes. Jackson is a legit businessman and less-legit smuggler, making ends meet and sailing through life. And it would be smooth sailing, except for some troubling dreams, hallucinations of extinct ravens, and his own finicky magic. Then a big government contract lands in his lap, and it’s too good to pass up. Except the cargo is not a thing, but a person. And she is definitely not normal, […]
Black Fall (The Black Year Saga #1) by D.J. Bodden. Jonas Black is your typical teenager- 16, with a girlfriend, school, and favorite playlists he can’t live without. Sure, he has a missing/dead father, and mother he barely sees, but no one is 100% normal, right? Then strange things start happening and he learns just how far from normal his family (and he) is. The world he thought he knew is really just the surface. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies, demons – they are all real, and dangerous. And, of course, all balanced in an ongoing political struggle for power and […]
Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black. The future of Earth is threatened when an alien race suddenly appears in our skies, wielding a power we have no idea how to combat. Cities disappear, and it looks like the planet will be overrun, when humanity discovers it can wield this new power, too. Or at least, some humans can. Enough to fight back. This sparks a centuries-long war spanning planets and realms. Things are much the same year after year, with each side gaining and losing ground again and again. Then the tactics of the alien force change, ever so […]