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Monday, February 27, 2017

Book Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch
by Rin Chupeco
March 7, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
In the captivating start to a new, darkly lyrical fantasy series for readers of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir, Tea can raise the dead, but resurrection comes at a price...

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!

Tea (pronounced Tay-uh) begins her life as a child in a village, until one day her brother, Fox, is killed and she raises him from the dead. Only a bone witch or Dark asha can do this. Tea’s gift for necromancy makes her feared and ostracized by her community and there is no way she can stay. So, another Dark asha, Mykaela, takes her to be trained.

Heartglasses, made by the heartforger, are worn by the people in this fantasy world. A person’s heartglass changes colors depending on what they're feeling, but will generally stay the same color. What can be romantic, but also seriously scary, thing about heartglasses is that if you fall in love with someone you can give them your heartglass. If the person the man or woman gives to is good, fine and dandy, but if not, they can control you.
Green = Sickly.
Blue = Worry.
Orange = Disinterest.
Yellow = Fear.
Red = Healthy and Happy.
Pink = Romantic.
Black = Punishment.
Silver = Can draw runes, which means you can fight, whether it be as an asha if you're a girl or as a solider if you're a boy. Silver heartglasses are so very important and sought after.

Now, there is over indulgence of descriptions, like in ashs’s clothing, that can be boring, But not all of the world building is bad and I could visualize the towns, the places the ashas are trained, and the different countries. There is some fantasy action scenes and monsters called Daevas, one that is obviously a dragon. The ashas are like geishas, in a world half like Japan and half like medieval Europe. The chapters set in present time, told from a bard’s POV when he meets an older Tea whose heartglass in now black and she is raising dead Daevas for an act of revenge are very well done. There is the potential for great YA fantasy series. I’ve seen complaints about a romance, but I suspected who might be the potential romantic interest and I won’t say who, but the last chapter has proven it for me.

If you’ve read Memoirs of a Geisha, enjoy high fantasy like Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, plus George RR Martin’s grittier high fantasy series, this is along that vein. And give this first book a chance—I suspect the next one will be less plodding and have more action and more romance, and the overly flowered, boring descriptions toned down.

I give The Bone Witch 4 supernatural sheep.

Pamela Kinney

About the Author:
Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. 

She is represented by Rebecca Podos of the Helen Rees Agency.

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