Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction
Overall rating 
Writing Style 

A vividly descriptive high fantasy

THE BONE WITCH by Ren Chupeco is a YA high fantasy (witches) novel with a cliffhanger that promises a sequel.

The eye-catching cover and the ironic opening line of the blurb piqued my curiosity and excited my inner nerd. I requested and received an advance copy eBook from the publisher via NetGalley for review.

In a world of witches, Tea is a teenager who accidentally raises her brother from the dead and thereby discovers she is a highly revered yet highly feared necromancer, who holds the power to save her kingdom from demons at the slow expense of her own life.

The opening line of Chapter One is the opening line of the blurb, and in my opinion, the best line in this book:

Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise.

That line! I loved it! And I had high hopes, VERY high hopes of an enchanting, engaging tale, but that one fantastic line proved to be not only an empty promise of an ironically humorous sister-dead-brother dynamic, but sadly, it was also by far most interesting piece of this 400+-page book. It’s a great sales line, but the irony there is certainly not indicative of the pages that follow. Though the writing is beautiful, the alternating chapters of Tea’s past and present serve up a constantly interrupted tale that effectively sucks this story dry of adrenaline. Most disappointing was the utter lack of plot, the omission of Tea actually accomplishing (or not accomplishing) any sort of goal, and the endless reminders that Tea is a special sort of witch. Together, this formed a perfect storm of no-connection-whatsoever to Tea and threw my skim engine into high gear.

Readers will easily know from the prologue (available as a free sample on Amazon–just click here) whether this is a tale they’ll love or not love.

For ages 11 and up. This novel contains mild violence and language, and some romance, but no sex. The adrenaline, “edge-of-the-seat” factor is low, and readers who like a fast pace may find themselves skimming much of this book. Still, this book would no doubt appeal to fans of high fantasy who enjoy beautiful writing in a slow-paced, lyrical tale, told in alternating chapters of flashback and present time.

I wanted to love this book, but unfortunately, I’m an adrenaline junkie, and this book put my brain to sleep.

THE BONE WITCH earns 2 North of Normal stars.

Good Points
The writing is soothing and beautiful.
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