The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
Updated: Nov 18, 2020
Publisher/date: Sourcebooks Fire (2/1/18)
Genre: YA Fantasy
My rating: MG but with necromancy themes
Series: The Bone Witch (Book 1)
"Then perhaps we should carve a world one day where the strength lies in who you are, rather than in what they expect you to be. "
Tea (pronounced Tia) is an ordinary girl in a poor village, until her brother Fox is killed in the war and she accidentally raises him from the dead, and discovers that she is a bone witch. Her heart's glass is silver like a magic wielding asha, but the only runes she can perform are necromancy runes. The black sheep of the asha, she is essentially doomed to a life of people looking at her with fear and disdain, while she slowly drains her life force controlling the dreaded daeva, monsters who terrorize the land.
The fantasy world this is set in borrows much of its culture from Japan. The asha are essentially a fighting force of magical Geisha, trained in all of the Geisha fine arts, fighting, history, and runes. While I personally enjoyed this, having little knowlege of Japanese culture myself, I know that some folks find this practice of borrowing an entire culture "lazy writing." I would be interested to hear what a person familiar with Japanese culture felt about this book.
I loved it. While it was confusing sometimes - it's one of those books where there are "easter egg" like moments that you want to pay attention to because they become important later, overall it was dark and mysterious and I loved Tea and Fox. Sure, Tea can be brazen and immature sometimes, but she's a very young teenager and the behavior is enough to make it believable, without too much as to make her irritating.
I did find it to be typical of the Cinderella-type series (think Throne of Glass or A Court of Thorns and Roses) where it becomes often very painful to read because of how our protagonist is treated. I've found that when I push through these parts, this pain is important to the growth of the character in becoming who she is, and it's often mostly in the first book, before she "takes her power back" so to speak. It's the makings of a badass, and I love me a badass female protagonist.
"There is no greater strength than the ability to understand and accept our own flaws."
I actually cannot wait for the next book in this series. I'd already bought a paperback version of it, but got the audiobook for a couple bucks from Chirp*, so I listened to this one, and definitely plan on listening to the next two in the series.
There are a lot of themes I enjoyed in this book. Politics, tradition, love, greed, and prejudice. You could rename this book Pride and Prejudice, it having almost no similarities to that book, and still have it be a very accurate and descriptive title.
"It was simpler in Knights Cross where we were too poor to afford but to behave."
My only issue with this book was that it was one of those formats where it's two different times, one following a bard who is getting the story from the bone witch herself, and one of how it all started. You'd expect those to meet at the end, but they didn't. So I'm interested to see how the next book is formatted and how that works in the series.
4/5 stars, I liked it a lot (though it was often painful to read) and will be reading the sequel.
*Chirp is a great way to get really cheap audiobooks. They have daily deals and such where you can get great books for under $4. You can find all the ways I get free or cheap audiobooks on my blog post here.