The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst – Review

Published: March 9, 2021

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 496 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

From award-winning author Sarah Beth Durst, a standalone epic fantasy set in a brand-new world of towering mountains and sparkling cities, in which a band of aging warriors have a second chance to defeat dark magic and avenge a haunting loss.

Twenty-five years ago, five heroes risked their lives to defeat the bone maker Eklor—a corrupt magician who created an inhuman army using animal bones. But victory came at a tragic price. Only four of the heroes survived. 

Since then, Kreya, the group’s leader, has exiled herself to a remote tower and devoted herself to one purpose: resurrecting her dead husband. But such a task requires both a cache of human bones and a sacrifice—for each day he lives, she will live one less.

She’d rather live one year with her husband than a hundred without him, but using human bones for magic is illegal in Vos. The dead are burned—as are any bone workers who violate the law. Yet Kreya knows where she can find the bones she needs: the battlefield where her husband and countless others lost their lives.

But defying the laws of the land exposes a terrible possibility. Maybe the dead don’t rest in peace after all.  

Five warriors—one broken, one gone soft, one pursuing a simple life, one stuck in the past, and one who should be dead. Their story should have been finished. But evil doesn’t stop just because someone once said, “the end.”


Five heroes went to kill the corrupt bone maker Eklor, and when he was defeated only four returned. Jentt, the quick and nimble thief, died to save another. His wife Kreya, the leader of their heroic party, has hidden herself away in a remote tower for decades following his death where she has been learning how to resurrect him. The only hitch in her plan is finding the human bones required to bring Jentt back to life and to do that she must cross the wall, to the field of the last battle. Of course, all of this is illegal and if Kreya were caught she would be summarily burned, just as the dead traditionally are treated… good thing she’s resourceful and has old friends that can be called upon! 

Fair warning, the paragraph above is only the smallest fraction of The Bone Maker’s plot which I thought was pretty damn delightful. This book absolutely did not go in the direction I expected it to which kept me turning pages late into the night. How could I put it down when the evil guy might not actually be dead!? And then, the characters were absolutely fascinating. The whole gang reunited once again, proving how massively surviving such a harrowing ordeal can screw up a person’s psyche. I got unexpected Kings of the Wyld vibes from this book but with less humor. The whole “reuniting the gang of retired heroes to fight the big evil” schtick is absolutely one of my favorite things in fantasy.

Let’s talk a bit about the characters now. Kreya, of course, has been an unkempt hermit for at least a decade and she has her husband’s corpse in a spare bedroom at the start of the book. She’s also got creepy constructs doing tasks about her dilapidated wizard tower. Very mad scientist/magician vibe. Jentt has been a corpse on and off for a while now, but once he’s revived he’s definitely the more stable of the two. Zera, Kreya’s best friend, has become an obscenely wealthy bone maker, creating talismans that grant abilities like speed, flight, stealth and so forth. She’s excellent, and doesn’t hold back on how she feels about Kreya abandoning her after the battle ended. Marso was the bone reader of the group and he’s practically raving mad when they find him naked in a fountain. He was seeing things he thought for sure couldn’t be true. Stran, the muscle of the group, has turned into a doting father and loving husband who assists his terrifying competent wife Amurra in running their farm. I love the variety we get with the characters and their chemistry when they reunite is amazing. 

This was a brilliant book and Sarah Beth Durst is cementing her place as one of my favorite fantasy authors. She writes epic standalones that leave you completely satisfied at the end. I’m considering returning to the Queens of Renthia series to complete it, despite my lackluster feelings about the first book in that series because everything else I’ve read is SO GOOD. As I mentioned previously, I think this book would be perfect for fans of Kings of the Wyld or anyone searching for a fantasy focusing on the aftermath of victory. I can’t recommend this enough!

Currently Reading: 2/22/21

The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst
I have been so excited to finally read this, but initially put it off because it was sooo far until the release date! And now that date is quickly sneaking up on me! A hero is planning to use forbidden magic to raise her husband (who fell fighting a corrupt magician) from the dead. It sounds fabulously dark and emotional!

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
I picked this up in an Audible sale a couple weeks ago and decided now was the time to check it out. Before I pick up another murder mystery book anyway. A group of unlikely young cadets are thrown together and may end up preventing a catastrophic intergalactic war. I love the large cast of voice actors and tend to find the snarky attitudes fun.

Stacking the Shelves: 11/7/20

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly (or in my case monthly) meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you’ve added to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks!


Received for Review: 

ORBIT GOODIES!!!!

The Poison Prince by S.C. Emmett
OOoo OOo OO!! I loved the first book in this series and can’t wait to read this sequel! There is so much good political drama, potential/budding romance, and it was just so surprisingly awesome. 

Call of the Bone Ships by R.J. Barker
Another amazing looking sequel from Orbit. I’ve been LOVING the pirate/high seas adventure fantasies that have been released lately. Can’t wait to dive in and ‘sea’ if this one lives up to the previous book. 

The Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick
And here’s a lovely physical ARC of one of my most anticipated new series for 2021! I’ve already featured this a couple times on my blog, so just check out the synopsis.

Wine Dark Deep by R. Peter Keith
This was a cool looking scifi book that unfortunately didn’t work so well for me. You can check out my review HERE.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken
I’m going to jump on the Greek gods train and have fun with this one! The cover is awesome and the synopsis is promising, plus Alex Bracken has written some good stuff! Thanks to Disney-Hyperion for the eARC!

The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst
This was a recent Waiting on Wednesday feature it OMG IT SOUNDS SOOOO GOOD!!!! The early reviews are great and I might read this ASAP! Thanks to HarperVoyager for the eARC.

My Purchases:

I have acquired quite a few versions of the Red Rising series over the years and here’s another one. It’s because I’m WEAK! These are a way cool special edition set from FairyLoot that finally arrived after some shipping confusion. They are LOVELY.

Ahhh yes, birthday gifts to myself! I love buying cookbooks. Bravetart is an awesome dessert  cookbook and Orange Blossom & Honey offers an interesting look into Moroccan cuisine and has great pictures to boot!

I snagged Devolution and accompanying card game from a Del Rey giveaway many months ago. It got delayed forever due to COVID, but here it is! I read it like, the day after I got it so a review will be up soon!

I’ve been charging through audiobooks lately and have listened to some particularly good ones! I’m currently listening to The Sword of Kaigen and will be posting reviews of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and The Devil and the Dark Water soon! You can check out my review for A Deadly Education HERE.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!

Oh my gosh!! This book has just the best synopsis EVER. Basically, five warriors defeated a corrupt magician but in the process one of them was killed. This warrior’s wife, who was also the leader of their group, has spent years trying to find a way to raise him from the dead. The catch here is that bone magic is illegal. The Bone Maker sounds like an absolute fabulous read and I can’t wait to get my hands on it in March 2021!

Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst – Review

Cover- Race the Sands

Published: April 21, 2020

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 544 (Paperback)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

In this standalone fantasy, a pair of strong and determined women risk their lives battling injustice, corruption, and deadly enemies in their quest to become monster racing champions.

Life, death, and rebirth—in Becar, everyone knows that who you are in this life will determine what you are in your next life. The augurs can read your fate in your aura: hawk, heron, tortoise, jackal, human. Armed with that knowledge, you can change your destiny with the choices you make, both in this life and your next. But for the darkest individuals, there is no redemption: you come back as a kehok, a monster, and you will always be a kehok for the rest of time.

Unless you can win the Races.

As a professional trainer, Tamra was an elite kehok rider. Then a tragic accident on the track shattered her confidence, damaged her career, and left her nearly broke. Now Tamra needs the prize money to prevent the local temple from taking her daughter away from her, and that means she must once again find a winning kehok . . . and a rider willing to trust her.

Raia is desperate to get away from her domineering family and cruel fiancé. As a kehok rider, she could earn enough to buy her freedom. But she can’t become good enough to compete without a first-rate trainer.

Impressed by the inexperienced young woman’s determination, Tamra hires Raia and pairs her with a strange new kehok with the potential to win—if he can be tamed.

But in this sport, if you forget you’re riding on the back of a monster, you die. Tamra and Raia will work harder than they ever thought possible to win the deadly Becaran Races—and in the process, discover what makes this particular kehok so special.


I unexpectedly LOVED this book! I picked it up one Sunday morning just to pass the time and ended up finishing it that afternoon. I basically didn’t move for six hours because I desperately needed to know how it would end. 

Race the Sands is one of the rare standalone fantasy books in a sea of series. Sometimes it’s wonderful to know you’re about to read an entire story contained in a single book and you won’t have to wait for a sequel or end with a nasty cliff hanger. It’s set in the desert empire of Becar, where you’re reincarnated when you die and how you live your life determines your next form. The worst of the worst come back as kehoks, which are brute monsters, often chimera-like in nature. Some of them are captured and trained as mounts for the famed and deadly Becaran Races. The rider of the kehok will win fame and fortune and the winning kehok will win an amulet that will make them human in their next life. 

Tamra was a former champion kehok rider, but after an injury she can no longer ride and must instead train those who wish to ride. Or rather, she coddles the children of wealthy families so that they might gain some status. They’re certainly not cut out to ride the kehoks because they don’t have the will or mental fortitude. Tamra is given one last chance by her employer and she purchases a kehok whose form is that of a black scaled lion. Raia sees Tamra in the market and begs to be taken on as a trainee, so that she may ride and win her way free of her manipulative parents. So begins a desperate journey to train Raia and the kehok so that they might win the Becaran Races. There’s more to all of these characters than first meets the eye.

This was an absolutely wild ride, no pun intended and I loved every single page of it! I love when a story takes you by surprise and sweeps you off your feet – it’s not a feeling I have often, where I hate to put down a book for even a minute. The main characters were all fascinating, but the side characters were just as engaging. Tamara’s daughter was a delight, the augurs varied from honorable to awful, and the prince was a rather diverting POV as well. I really can’t think of a bad thing to say about this book, even after some time has passed and my enthusiasm has returned to a reasonable level. In short, you should definitely check this out!

Currently Reading: 4/6/20

Cover- The Southern Book Club

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
AHHHHH it’s finally coming out on Tuesday!! I’m really looking forward to this quirky, awesome sounding horror/fantasy. Initial reviews are looking good, so I have pretty high hopes.

Cover- Race the Sands

Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst
This sounds like a pretty wild story and once again, the early reviews are fantastic! Racing on deadly beasts and battle corruption at the same time! I don’t even know… this has been lingering in my TBR queue for too long and it’s almost the release date.

 

The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst – Review

Cover- The Queen of Blood

Published: September 20, 2016

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Queens of Renthia #1

Pages: 353 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure

Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .

But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.

With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.


The Queen of Blood is another one of those books that I’ve been meaning to get around to since it was released in September 2016. At last! I decided to pick it up in audio format since there’s basically ZERO chance that I have time to squeeze in reading the actual book right now. It’s got a tremendously appealing cover, plus the synopsis mentions nature spirits as the basis for magic and even culture… sign me up!

The premise of The Queen of Blood is fairly standard when you look at the big picture – a girl from a small town overcomes great hardship to become the chosen one – but when you dig down a bit more it feels much more unique. The people of Aratay both rely on and fear the spirits of nature. Without them, the forest dies, water does not flow, and people will starve and waste away. The Queen is granted power by the spirits because they desire the balance she brings between their creative and destructive tendencies. Girls from across Aratay who display an affinity for the spirits are trained to become heirs, so when the Queen dies, there can be an immediate successor who can take control and prevent the utter decimation of mankind that the spirits could bring. This is where our main character comes in to play…

Daleina is not your average fantasy book character. First and most obvious of all is that her magic skills, which here translates to control over spirits, is minimal. She’s no prodigy, that’s for sure, and is even assisted by her friends on multiple occasions just so she can pass her magical tests. One thing she has in abundance is heart and determination. Despite her magical deficiency she remains determined to become on the Queen’s heirs, who are selected based on their strength and capability in controlling spirits. Daleina was an admirable character and I greatly appreciated the deviation from the standard character tropes. Ven, a disgraced Champion of the Queen, is our other main PoV in The Queen of Blood. I found him to be likable, though frustratingly naïve when it came to Queen Farrah due to his past relationship with her.

The Queen of Blood was an interesting book, but the beginning seemed to drag somewhat. I liked the magic school setting (always a win), but after a while I couldn’t wait for something to actually happen. I suppose that since it covered a large span of years it wasn’t that bad, but the story really picks up SO much in the latter half. I loved the latter half and the ending was especially brutal and fantastic, thus making up for a beginning that lacked real pizazz. I’d definitely recommend this and I thought it was appropriate for a broad age range of readers, from the younger YA to adult fantasy readers.

Currently Reading: 7/10/17

cover-age-of-swords

Age of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

This book went from 0 to F4 tornado in about 5 seconds. And that was just the beginning. If that’s anything to judge by, then this may be MJS’s best book yet.

 

 

 

Cover- The Library of Fates

The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

I plan on starting this book later in the week and have it read in time for its July 18 release. This is an Indian influenced YA novel with a cool synopsis and good early reviews, so hopefully I’ll like it!

 

 

 

Cover- The Queen of Blood

The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst

Finally getting to catch up on another series I’ve been curious about! So far so good – a magic school setting, a coming of age story, and an awesome environment all rolled into one.