First of all, thank you Netgalley and Sourcebooks for this haunting and captivating ARC, Rin Chupeco’s The Bone Witch.
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.
Tea finds out that she is a bone witch the hard way: Her brother dies, and she raises him from the dead unwittingly. There is only one path for bone witches in Tea’s world, and so with the guidance of older witches, Tea finds herself training to be an asha, a wielder of elemental magic. She is wrapped in finery, learns to dance and talk and all other manners of court intrigue, but also to fight like a warrior. But as Tea watches her mentor slowly drain herself trying to keep the evil daeva from rising from their graves, she sees her fate. With evil lurking around every corner, can Tea protect herself and the ones she loves, or will she succumb to her own darker nature?
Things I loved:
- I loved the world-build! This was a beautiful and haunting world, one with princes and castles and the asha-ka where young witches learn to be both beautiful and deadly. There is good and evil forces and all manners of gray in between, monsters called daeva that are a mish-mosh of other beasts and heralded from a by-gone evil era.
- The outfit descriptions are marvelous! Dragon embroidery on the huas, wraps of silk, butterfly sleeves, etc. The jewelry is just as well described and ornate. This reminds me a lot of Japanese geisha style, which I think the asha are supposed to be emulating. The descriptions really brought the outfits and girls wearing them to life.
Things I didn’t love as much:
- The massive amount of characters, princes, princesses, asha, etc. that the reader is given with no real reference to how they fit together. We are given who is potentially marrying whom and kingdom names, but don’t get a good sense of place. Even the asha-kas (where the asha live, send money) are not well described. While I can describe the outfits in detail, where one building or one kingdom is in relation to another is completely lost.
- The formatting. This is a dual-perspective novel, written as from one perspective as the present and the bulk of the world build as the past, with Tea telling her life story from present-day. I did like it as far as how it displayed the story, but the split perspective was a giant “spoiler alert” and the rest of the novel just playing catch up. An interesting tactic, but not necessarily for me.
- Also, physical formatting. The Kindle edition that was sent to me was not page formatted at all, so the header was in the middle of the page at some points and the split perspective only apparent from font changes. This is not Chupeco’s fault of course, but something that I am sure will be addressed with edits.
All in all, I really was captivated by this novel. Gorgeously written, and leaves you breathless for the next installment. Four waves! Pre-order The Bone Witch now for its March release!