Title: The Bone Witch
Author: Rin Chupeco
Format: eBook, courtesy of NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS Fire
Start Date: June 8, 2017
End Date: June 12, 2017
Rating: 3 stars
I understand now why people fear bone witches. Theirs is not the magic found in storybooks, slaying onyx-eyed dragons and rescuing grateful maidens from ivory towers. Theirs is not the magic made from smoke and mirrors, where the trap lies in the twitch of the hand and a trick of the eyes. Nor is theirs the magic that seeds runeberry fields, whose crops people harvest for potions and spells. This is death magic, complicated and exclusive and implacable, and from the start, I wielded it with ease.
This book had me hooked from the beginning. From the concepts of “bone witches” (witches that can raise the dead), to the society of the asha (a geisha-like community of women who wield magic), to the intricately beautiful cover, I was intrigued. Although I must say I enjoyed the story overall – and will definitely be reading the next book in the series, The Heart Forger – I think it fell short of its potential.
Rin Chupeco’s The Bone Witch told the story of Tea, already unique because of her name. In her grief after her brother’s untimely death, she accidently raises him from his grave, to the shock of those around her, family included.
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.
“Bone Witch” is a derogatory term for these Dark asha able to wield magic controlling the dead, both rare and often feared amongst the people. Tea of one of these rare asha, and after raising her brother, goes to the capital to start her training. These asha are almost like geisha…though fighting geisha. Their beautiful hua they wear are similar to kimonos, and the way they entertain are likewise similar. However, asha are powerful.
Lady Mykaela: “Most people know three kinds of asha, Tea. The first are performing asha, known for their dancing and their singing, though their magic may be weaker than others. The second are fighting asha, known for their magic and prowess, though they may not be the most gracious of hosts. The third are Dark asha like us, the strongest of them all.”
Rin Chupeco has a way with words. Her writing style is very floral, and her descriptions of this strange world are beautiful, from the hua the asha wear to the city where they live. I was sucked into this world of beauty and magic and intrigue.
Although The Bone Witch follows several similar YA Fantasy tropes – a girl singled out as unique and given special powers, with which she is expected to save the world chief among them – the story itself felt new and fresh. However, the author also generally relied on descriptions rather than actions to move the story forward. I really just wanted more from this book: more background on the history of the kingdoms, more establishment for how magic and the runes worked, more about the history of bone witches and heart forgers, etc.
Overall, I actually really liked this book. The characters were interesting if often a bit one-dimensional, the world-building was well-done if a bit vague, the writing style was beautiful if a bit flowery, and the story left me wanting more. I really don’t know if I can wait another year or so until the sequel comes out (it is set to be released on March 1st, 2018)!
Thank you to NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS Fire for an advanced copy of this eBook in exchange for an honest review.
The publisher also sent me a link to this really cool quiz to determine which asha you are. Click on the picture below to take the test.
If you’re interested, I got: Drycht (the asha on the bottom right, in blue):
You tend to be the most traditional among all the other asha, and you prefer substance over flash. You’re the most maternal out of them all, which makes you a very good listener. Rather than confront someone, you’re more willing to bend and try to reach a compromise, which also makes you a very good mediator. You’re not above making the occasional joke, though you’re subtler than most.
Famous Drychtan asha: Shadi
Share in the comments which asha you are!!