The Bone Witch
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A Publishers Weekly Most Anticipated Young Adult Book of Spring 2017!
In the captivating start to a new, darkly lyrical fantasy series for readers of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir, Tea can raise the dead, but resurrection comes at a price...
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!
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
reading in small doses as the world slowly builds around you
3.5 Stars – Rounded
Amazingly intriguing premise sets the base of this story: we know that we are to meet Tea as she discovers how to wield and manage her powers of Necromancy, making her different from her family and friends, in worlds that are miles from her own. Told in two narratives of past and present, Tea shares her story with the Bard who found her living alone on an island laden with bones. Slowly the worlds unfold for us as Tea, in her desire to tell her story gives us descriptions and moments from her past that inform her ‘now’ and give readers insight into her current circumstances in which she was banished to this island.
Starting with her resurrection of her brother and meeting her mentor in another Bone Witch, the rich descriptions outline the history and mythology of the place, giving an understanding of the forces at work, the distinct feel and look of each kingdom, the bright colors worn by the Asha (magic wielders) and how those colors signify their ‘specialties’ and position within the world. Add to that the creation stories that bring forth the good, evil and supernatural creatures created in Daeva and how the more modern day societies used those creatures and beliefs, including necromancy, arranged marriages, court politics and even warrior cultures play their part in the world in which Tea was born.
Chupeco’s attention to detail is flawless, and while these details could (and did) morph into some mundanities that did not always feel relevant, the lushness of the descriptions do build a world that is easy to visualize, nearly palpable in the imagination. The one drawback to this description-heavy story is the time that is consumed as the world is built, leaving little time for actual action or revelations. But, fear not, the writing is beautifully crafted, and if you, like I, keep reading, the moments for Tea in her battle with Daeva brings startling discoveries, and is well worth your time.
From the Tea of the past we see the daring, bold and perhaps stubbornly curious young girl, who is now more jaded, and cautious. Still, we have questions about her ‘whys’, the reasons for her change and just why she is banished. Insets with her family show the bond and caring, and moments with the Asha who took her on to train are amusing and add more lightness to the story, while the descriptions of her in action in the past show just how bold and determined she is to make changes. While this wasn’t a read in one sitting sort of book due to the volumes of description and world building that could overwhelm, reading in small doses as the world slowly builds around you, allowed the story to unfurl and unfold, leaving me anxious to continue and discover answers that will hopefully be revealed in the next book.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Basically a book about Geisha training.
Oh Bone Witch, where do I start? Where do I start….
I expected this book to be about a young woman who discovers her powers as a necromancer after accidentally raising her newly dead brother from his grave. I expected her to go on and learn to use her powers and have adventures along the way.
What I got was a book about geisha training.
Seriously. At least half of this book described all the lessons our heroine, Tea, had to endure on her road to becoming an Asha. (Asha = Geisha. They even sound similar.) During this large portion of the book very little happens. I wish I was kidding.
If I wanted to read a book about geisha’s, I would have read a book about geishas.
Now, all that said, there were a lot of good things about this book. You just have to wade through the boring geisha—sorry, Asha—lessons to get there.
For starters, this book is dual POV in a very unconventional way. We start with a nameless bard finding Tea on a seashore full of bones. He convinces her to tell the story of how she came to be there. The other POV is Tea, the Bone Witch on the beach, telling the bard the story of how she came to be there. So, that was cool.
I also really liked the lore in the book. I liked the idea of the False Prince and his Daeva (monsters that never truly die). I liked the magic and powers. I thought all that was developed nicely… it was just overshadowed by too much geisha-Asha mumbo-jumbo.
On the other hand, the “big twist” near the ending sort of came out of nowhere. There really wasn’t any direct build up for it and it took me a moment to figure out what the heck was really going on. There were clues throughout the story, but they read more like backstory than anything that was actually relevant. It was…. strange.
I also had a hard time connecting to any of the characters. The servant girls at the Asha house were pretty interchangeable in my head. I couldn't tell you the name of most of the other characters either.
The very end of the book leads me to believe there may be a promising sequel. If the author can cut down on the training and get to the action, I think it could be a good book.
So, should you read it? If you are looking for a good dose of magic and action and adventure you will be sorely disappointed. If you are looking for an interesting and unique world and can look past long periods of nothing happening while our heroine goes through training, then you might just like this one. Oh, and if you’re really into geisha you’ll probably love it!