Title: The Bone Witch
Author: Rin Chupeco
Publication Date: March 7th, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebook Fire
Rating: ★★★★/ 4 Stars
Genre: Fantasy YA
The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.
Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.
Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch.
There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.
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.
I started The Bone Witch almost over a week ago but the writing was so dense that I had to take long breaks. I like the fantasy genre a lot and when I saw that this was written by a diverse author, I was excited to delve into it.
I didn’t know how she could say that much about me by shoving vials under my nose, but because I was “highly intelligent,” I knew enough to keep my mouth shut.
The Bone Witch, as you’ll read in the blurb, is centered on a girl named Tea who is part of a big family. Tea’s the type of witch that deals with the Dark. There are practically three or four other witches like Tea so she has to take on a journey with the only other Bone Witch, Lady Mykaela, to a city where ashas (a concept very much inspired by Geishas) are trained in fighting, arts and become entertainers or warriors or shop-keepers.
I am simplifying it a lot since the author took a great deal of details to explain the system of which ashas’ world worked. Tea is especially very strong and considering that there aren’t many witches like her, she generates a lot of interest where she goes to train to be an asha.
The world building is kind of a big deal in this book because Chupeco went ahead and wrote about eight kingdoms and I have a feeling she’s got so much planned for this world. The melting pot of cultures in Kion (where Tea goes to train) was cool and there were mentions of foods of Persian or Arabic origins that sounded familiar to me.
Considering that Tea has to leave her home at a very young age (I believe she was 13 or 14), she is thrust into the world outside of her small bubble of living in Odalia (where people are somewhat homey and simple compared to places like Kion) so the relationships Tea made are quite significant.
There is a big cast of characters and it’s interesting to read them from Tea’s point of view since she’s so young, hence honest. Of course, there are some hostilities that Tea develops with some characters but they never go as far as become “villains.” Quite a lot of these characters are introduced somewhat over the beginning of Tea’s training and stay on to make an impact on her life as a novice asha. There are female characters that become Tea’s sisters and try to guide her. She also has a special relationship with her brother Fox who you’ll find out about in the very beginning of the novel.
The pace seems very slow and it gave me a chance to get to know the cultures that Chupeco wanted to build. It seems very important that this book is ‘wordy’ and somewhat of an info-dump because I get the sense that there will be more books in which the plot, which started somewhere after the middle in this book, would get picked up.
I like the change of point of views. There is Tea’s point of view as she told her story, and then a Bard’s point of view who goes to meet up with an older (though she’s only 17) Tea who’s planning something.
There is some romance being built up but you’ll still get a somewhat of a ‘surprise’ in the very last two lines in the book.
Over all, good premise for a fantasy series. I hope the author spends a little more on the side characters, because it feels like the focus was on Tea a lot. I’d like to read more about the world in general.
Also: the ‘plot twist’ wasn’t very strong but I had a feeling that there was something bigger brewing underneath that. You get the sense, while reading, that Tea’s history isn’t meant to have a grand complex plot, it’s how she comes to terms with her powers and her relationships that are far more important.
If anyone has any reviews they’d like me to link to, please add them in the comments!
Who here has read The Bone Witch or is planning on reading it?