Ｔｉｔｌｅ：The Bone Witch
Ｓｅｒｉｅｓ： Book 1
Ｒａｔｉｎｇ： ★ ★ ★ ✩ ✩
＊Ｎｏｔｅ：Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for approving me for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
When Tea accidentally raises her dead brother she finds out she’s not a typical witch: she’s a bone witch, powerful and feared. They are responsible for putting down terrifying and deadly daeva. But their numbers are fewer and fewer. An older bone witch, Mykaela, senses Tea’s powers at work and takes her and her brother away for training. While there, Tea becomes increasingly aware of a looming presence that threatens not only her life but that of her new friends.
Tea has to be one of my favorite characters, probably because she was constantly speaking her mind (even when she shouldn’t) and being strong for her friends. She was willing to stand up for others even though she wouldn’t always do it for herself. I also liked how she seemed to have dark intentions with the future passages at the ends of the chapters, but she really believed that she was doing things for the good of everyone. I still haven’t quite figured her out, if she’s good or bad. Maybe that’s the point. There’s a little of both in everyone I suppose.
Fox comes as a second because I really enjoyed his loyalty to his sister, Tea, and their bond. I also found him to be a bit sassy at times (and I love a good sassy character).
► Really, future Tea seems so… mystical. She’s this enigma that you’re trying to piece together throughout the story and there’s something almost tragic about the things she says and the ways she acts.
“The only sight I seem to possess nowadays is hindsight.”
► I think it was definitely frustrating to think about how essential bone witches were to the kingdoms and yet they were often seen as enemies or at least someone to be cautious about.
“That’s not the worst they call me, and that will not be the worst they will call you.”
► One of the time’s Tea was especially bold: when she confronted King Telemaine about her brother’s death.
“My brother died. You told him where, and he went like a good soldier to fight and got nothing but a coffin for his troubles. Surely he deserves more than your indifference”–I gave his heartsglass a pointed glance–“even if it is well concealed.”
► Mistress Parmina was such a pain in the butt haha.
Misress Parmina still looked old and crass and angry, and men were more likely to cross the street to avoid her than stop to admire–but now they might hesitate. She looked a little less forbidding, leaning toward seventy instead of ninety years old, which I thought was as much of an improvement as was possible for her.
► The Heartforger also seemed really interesting, but unfortunately there wasn’t a whole lot of time with him in the book.
“He is a wise man but often sad–though I have found that both frequently go hand in hand.”
Overall, I have to say that the book was pretty good. Though as you can tell from my rating, I did have some issues with it. Right away, one of the things that kinda put me off about the book was that the author dropped an information bomb. There was so much backstory that I almost felt like taking notes in case there was a quiz. I mean, there’s the kingdoms, the Faceless leaders/cults, the Deathseekers, the heartsglass, the different witches–it was all sort of dropped throughout the first chapter or so instead of being spaced out throughout the book. I honestly had to shut a lot of it out because there was no way I was going to remember every location/focus of every kingdom. Something that helped this out a bit was that it was pretty much covered again here and there throughout the story, so it wasn’t like you were expected to know it by heart.
One of the strong points in the story was probably the bond between Tea and her brother, Fox. This was something that I thoroughly enjoyed because it was protective, genuine, and rooted in love. It was just something nice to have throughout the story. I enjoy sibling bonding in a story. He was really her anchor throughout the book, and was the only one not really concerned about her being a bone witch. He wanted to stay with her for as long as she wanted him around and ugh, that loyalty was just adorable.
Sadly, I can’t really say that there were too many other strong bonds like that in the book. I would count Tea and Polaire, Mykaela, Parmina, and maybe Likh. But besides them, I didn’t feel like I got to know any other characters very well. Most of them were encountered in passing (especially where other asha were concerned). But I still really enjoyed the characters that I did get to know.
I liked the style of the book, although it confused me at first. I didn’t understand right away that the two speakers (past and present/future) were both Tea. That definitely could’ve been made clearer, but aside from that it was good. I liked it in the sense that it gave me a glimpse into who she’d become, what had happened to her, and that made me curious. It made me wonder what happened that made her change from the young girl to this now full-blown and exiled asha. It also gave it an overall storyteller quality/tone that made it feel more like hearing a bedtime story. I liked that.
I didn’t really understand her infatuation with the prince. It was like some random romance just kinda stuck in there. They didn’t interact nearly enough to make any real connections that would make me think of them as romantic interests. It was just really, really in the background and just not a part of the story for me. And then towards the end of the book, it kinda hints at a love triangle that I never saw evidence of in the book.
As for the ending: it wasn’t as strong as I had hoped. I could tell that it wasn’t going to end at a good point because of how many questions I still had when I was reaching the last chapters but still. I was so confused about the romance (the man she “loved” was not who I was expecting based on everything in the book), I wanted to know why the exiled her (it didn’t really say), and what she planned to do (it kinda hinted, and that was alright as it would be a good allusion to the next book). These were some basic questions that I really wanted to be answered, that I think really should have been but weren’t.
Overall, a good story but the execution could have been better. I would still tell people to give it a chance and I’m still interested enough in the story that I would be willing to pick up the next book. I just hope it’s better put together.