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!
|Book 1 of The Bone Witch series
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
Sometimes, a popular book comes out that everyone loves and I just don’t get. I’m used to those situations happening. But then, sometimes the opposite happens and a book that has been hyped up comes out to less favorable reviews, but I love it. That always shocks me. So, when I finished The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco and immediately thought FIVE STARS GREAT FANTASTIC, then checked goodreads to see the rating, I was flabbergasted. This was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed and wanted more of.
Chupeco does tremendously well in framing the story between before and after. This is probably one of the most successful aspects of this book. It builds up the suspense and helps propel the plot forward. It kept me thrumming with anxiety as I saw the pages left to finish the book dwindle down while the two halves of the book were nowhere near close to connecting. Part of the book takes place after. After what? We can only guess the specifics but we know Tea was exiled. A bard finds her and she tells her tale to him while working on something that had me frightened, not only for what’s to come, but for her very sanity as well. The rest of the book is the story Tea is telling about her childhood, about how she got to the point she’s at by the end of the book. He story stops short of filling in all the gaps, which we’ll likely see more of in a sequel.
The story itself was well crafted, with a solid start to worldbuilding. We get the idea of these different cultures, social hierarchies, myths, etc. and how they influence everything, especially Tea’s story. Tea, a small town girl with big town magic, gets roped into becoming an Asha, almost like a magical geisha. She has to learn history, politics, song, dance, etc. all in order to provide stimulating conversation and entertainment to those that can afford it. But, Tea’s specialization requires even more of her. As she is a bone witch, she will also be in charge of defeating monsters that pop up periodically — a task only bone witches are capable of completing.
Now, this wouldn’t be a YA fantasy novel if it didn’t also include romance, which is hinted upon from the very beginning. I died because I was so intrigued by who it would be she fell in love with. I had my suspicions and I had my hopes and my suspicions won out, but my hope is still there! Trust me, you don’t want me to spoiler that because we literally do not get a name until the last page and it was SO WORTH IT.
Another thing that really sets The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco apart is the inclusion of people of color. I never once while reading felt that this was a world of white, which I absolutely loved and think we need more of, especially in fantasy. I mean, if we can have 3 headed dragons, why not a cast of diverse characters? Also, the addition of a potentially lgbtqa* character towards the end had me throwing my hands up in glee (at least, that’s how I read the character secret as).
There was only one part that did slow the book down — fashion descriptions. Yes, they may have been important in creating the story, but I honestly could not keep track of it all, nor did I make that big an effort to. It ended up becoming lines on a page to skim past.
Overall, The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco is a novel that I absolutely adored. It felt unique, had me connected to the characters and world, and now has me in agony waiting for the sequel to pop up. Such a lovely and refreshing YA book!