Title: The Bone Witch
Author: Rin Chupeco
Series: (The Bone Witch, #1)
Pub. Date: March 7th, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA, Fantasy
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!
The Bone Witch is an intriguing tale, rich in descriptions and full of unique settings. As we follow Tea, a girl of twelve years who discovers she is a Bone Witch after she raises her brother from the dead, we journey with her through training and knowledge until she is fifteen. There are daeva which are described as cursed monsters but seem like dragons, three types of Asha (Bone Witch is one), Deathseekers, and familiars (who can indeed be the dead). This novel is the story of how Tea got where she is at 17, though the second book will most likely continue this as we do not yet have all of the past. At least, not enough to fully understand why she is where she is now.
The story alternates between two voices. Tea is our voice in first person for the past (majority of the book) and an alternate character’s voice also in first person is for for the present (short bursts in between each chapter). This allows readers to see inside the characters heads more, even if there is little to see.
Tea is very strong but also impatient, so we mostly see her struggle to learn more faster. She throws herself into some situations where she shouldn’t, because she wants to test herself and taste more of that wondrous power she feels every time she uses dark magic. She is impulsive and doesn’t necessarily think things through before she acts. We don’t see much of her actual character however, because she was mostly busy with training and talking about which parts she liked and didn’t like. We do get to see some relatable childish rebellion though, such as skipping lessons, playing little pranks of sorts, and keeping secrets. Granted, Tea’s secrets are a lot darker and more dangerous than expected of a fifteen year old.
The premise of this novel definitely intrigued me, and the story started off strong. Rich details and a unique world enriched the reading experience, and one can easily tell how much a hua means to an Asha. While I enjoyed learning about the training and what it takes to become an Asha, I must admit that there was too much even for me. Most of the novel is training (as a maid, as an apprentice) of fighting, history, social behavior by attending parties, flowers, proper appearance, magic, and dancing/singing. We learned of the different rankings in each and which Tea excelled in and felt little for. The issue with this however is that it is repetitive and gives very little personality for the characters.
As for romance, it’s hard to say that there is any. Tea has feelings for someone yes, but that someone fails to notice and do nothing comes from it. We mostly see Tea stumble over words and thoughts in the character’s presence. And by the end, in one of the bursts of the present, we see her with someone she calls “my love”, though this has yet to be touched upon. Hopefully the next book will bring clarification.
While the writing is flowery and rich, it affects the plot. There is very little room for plot when most of the pages are filled with descriptions of pretty hua’s and buildings and training. It may feel like a lot has happened, but it also feels like nothing did at the same time. There is definitely potential, so hopefully the second book focuses more on character development and plot.
Overall, The Bone Witch is an intriguing tale that is both unique and beautifully visual. While there are some issues for me, I still very much enjoyed reading this novel.