Published: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 3.5/5.0
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise. If there’s anything I’ve learned from him in the years since, it’s that the dead hide truths as well as the living.
When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.
In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha-one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.
Memoirs of a Geisha meets The Name of the Wind in this brilliant new fantasy series by Rin Chupeco!
The Bone Witch was probably one of the YA books that I was most excited about for Winter/Spring 2017, so I was delighted to get my hands on an eGalley. First of all, The Bone Witch has a stunning cover design, so kudos to the folks who worked on it. I didn’t think the story was perfect, but it doesn’t change the fact that I DO think this series is going to be really popular and hopefully really great. There’s definitely been a lot of hype generated for this book and it was a quick, exciting read.
My first impression was that the story telling is reminiscent of Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind. Tea Pahlavi (the bone witch) is telling her story to a bard that has come along to find her in her lonely exile and hear Tea’s side of things. To those of you who’ve read NOTW, is this ringing any bells yet? Tea has done something terrible, the man she loves is dead, and she’s preparing her revenge on a dark, bone-riddled coast. I kind of love this method of story-telling because you know what happened to the character up to a certain point in their lives, but you don’t know HOW the events leading up played out. Filling in those pieces and all the little mysteries is so satisfying for me as a reader and it leaves me hooked. I felt the number of Tea/Bard sections were too frequent and Tea’s story lacked some of the depth that I had expected, but I was comparing it to the depth of Kvothe’s story which some argue was too thorough.
The magic and the magic learning system in this book was really cool. The schooling and many parts of the asha life appeared to be inspired by geisha training in Japan, which I don’t see done often in fantasy. I loved Memoirs of A Geisha so The Bone Witch was kind of a fun treat for me. Series debuts and great origin stories two of my favorite things, which is another reason I expected to adore The Bone Witch, but the story-within-a-story style yet again lacked the depth and detail I like here. This book seems to span about 2 years in which much happens. Yes, we get the highlights and all the important bits, but I didn’t fall irrevocably in love with it. I am intrigued by the likelihood that Tea is an unreliable and biased narrator, because she is telling her own story… What is she lying about and what secrets could she be keeping?
I also love the fact that there are these crazy, mythical monsters out there that resurrect every so many years and terrorize the countryside. Definitely grim. The Dark asha like Tea and her mentor Mykaela are the only ones who can effectively control and put down these monsters, or daeva as they are called. These daeva are central to the storyline as is the briefly mentioned and under-detailed False Prince and his followers. Rin Chupeco gave her readers a little taste of the bad guys in this first installment and I expect to see much more of their involvement in future books. Plus, Tea’s dead love and her desire for revenge was really, really interesting, especially after that final segment.
Overall, I thought The Bone Witch was tremendously enjoyable, dark, and full of possibility. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next installment and a physical copy of this book. This book had me cringing, curious, and reading in every spare second!