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.
Updraft (Bone Universe #1) by Fran Wilde. In a city high above the clouds, Kirit dreams of finally earning her wings. Flyers are the lifeblood of the city, and she longs to be a trader alongside her mother. A breach of the city’s rules, however, sees her instead conscripted into the Singers, the secretive governing body. She discovers that not only is there more to the city and its history than she’s been taught, but there’s more to her own history (and abilities) than she imagined as well. A dangerous secret and divides with the Singers’ Spire itself lead Kirit […]
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 […]
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 […]
The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) by N.K. Jemisin. Sometime far, far in the future, Earth (is it Earth?) is unrecognizable. The landmasses have shifted into one big, volatile continent called The Stillness. Every few centuries or so, this volatility causes a fifth season. It’s a different animal from the other four (spring, summer, autumn, winter); always inhospitable to life, it can vary in its length (months, years, decades) and the specific calamity involved. This book opens at the dawning of a new fifth season. The story is told via 3 characters: Demaya, a young girl from the countryside; […]
The Butterfly Crest (The Protogenoi Series #1) by Eva Vanrell. Elena grows up in Japan with two loving parents, until a tragic car accident takes them both from her. Raised by her mother’s best friend in New Orleans, Elena finds herself years later in a job she hates with no love life to speak of. Then out of the blue she gets a letter from a bank in Japan about an inheritance from her mother that no one knows anything about. What she finds in Japan is a curse- and it changes everything she thought she knew about her family […]
The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria #1) by Anthony Ryan. Imagine if dragons existed (in four colors: Black, Red, Green and Blue), and each type of blood granted certain powers to a select few of the population. Imagine the era of monarchies and governments had faded, to be replaced by corporations- who, of course, control access to this dragon blood. They’ve gotten rich and powerful off it, particularly the Ironship Syndicate, which has empire-like control of vast lands. Decades pass. And now the breeding lines of drakes are weakening, and the wild ones more scarce. The old myth of the […]