Review Detail

 
Young Adult Fiction
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0

great book!

"The Bone Witch" is a fascinating set of intertwined tales: the first in italics is told by a bard who has encountered the young bone witch (at about 17) after she has been exiled and the second is longer and the brunt of the story about this same bone witch's past and development, told from her point of view. The main story reads like an intricate oral narration of Tea's life as a bone witch from her discovery by Mykaela when she resurrects her brother, Fox, to her trainings and beyond.

Tea and Mykaela are a special and rare kind of asha called dark asha (insult term for a dark asha is a bone witch). Other asha have some combination of elemental powers. Tea's sisters are witches/asha as well, though much smaller scale and less powerful than the dark asha. Dark asha have some kind of power over death, being able to raise the dead (with their consent- except animals which can be raised without consent), but also to heal and treat illnesses. Their main job, which takes most of their energy/life force, is to raise the daeva and kill them at set intervals to take their bezoars, so that they cannot rise on their own and wreak havoc. Daeva were created by the False Prince and only dark asha have enough power to deal with them. A daeva which was not dealt with had killed Fox. We learn through the daeva created by a bone witch, that they have special names and are more tame like young animals in the right hands (e.g. taurvi, akvan, indar).

What I did not expect from the way the synopsis is written is the style of the story. This book seems very clearly inspired and closely related to "Memoirs of a Geisha" which surprised me. If you exchange geisha for asha (a term for a witch in this fantasy world), then you have most of this story. The asha are trained in special homes with a head of house ("Mother") where they begin as servants and then apprentice (she is Mykaela, the only other bone witch's, apprentice)- although the term is misleading, as they are an apprentice in general, not to one specific asha. Asha are primarily (90% of their classes) trained in the arts of entertainment and conversation, with classes in music, singing, dancing, etc. They then also have some classes in magic and fighting, but not all asha continue in these classes (depending on skills). The asha have teahouses where men gather to speak with the asha and watch them perform and the asha are paid for their company. They have one major performance which is a source of jealousy, if you do not get the main role, and this creates a rivalry between Shadi, an asha at Tea's house, and Zoya, an asha at another house, which leads to Tea's embarrassment and discovery (when Zoya tries to shame her house by having her dress in Shadi's hua- which sounds like a kimono to me- and play her sitar before Tea is trained). This backfires when Tea's magic takes over and the incident catapults her from servant to actual apprentice with classes. The asha also have "Sisters" which are older asha that give them specialized training. Tea has 4, of which Mykaela is one. All the asha-in-training make a debut which is allowed after testing by the asha-ka, a group of leaders.

There is little romance in this book, but I found that it was unnecessary and the book certainly wasn't wanting. Tea fixates on the prince (Prince Kance) with the hint that they have conversations not explicitly detailed in the course of the book, though I am not 100% sure I get why/that I buy into this relationship (maybe just the enigmatic alure of power/royalty?). However, I do not think the book was lacking, and I assume romance will develop more in sequels.

I found the whole asha process fascinating. All the asha are dressed specially in hua and with special hairpins. These have a spin from geisha too- some of the hairpins have special significance (e.g. Tea gets one early which allows her to filter some of the magic from overloading her senses).

I was most interested in the heartsglass, which everyone- not just asha- wears and carries. The heartsglass is like a piece of yourself and is crafted when each person becomes a teenager. You can exchange your heartsglass with another individual and this is akin to marriage. The heartsglass will wither without attention- unless you are an asha, and then it will not (if you lose it, it is gone forever/cannot be replaced and you are susceptible to illness/less able to heal). For most people, once it withers, you can get another (as one of Tea's sisters consistently does). Heartsglass can also be forged by using memories (which Tea gives at times); for most people, giving these memories means you will no longer have them unless they are very strong and then will come back after a while, but for dark asha, they retain the memories and are only weakened a little. Tea, as a dark asha, can read heartsglass to see when others are lying, sick (and if so, what), embarrassed, interested/bored, etc.

Chupeco has really created an intricate world here which is fascinating to read. I think the synopsis is misleading and might direct away some potential readers and attract others who like different kinds of stories. I myself was on the fence about it from the description, but it was not at all like I expected. It would be better marketed as a twist on "Memoirs of a Geisha," with more descriptions of what asha are really like (e.g. not just witches). It seems that most of the magic is instinctive and the training is more for making sure their powers do not prevent them from maintaining traditional gender roles, though this is a minor theme, and then secondarily about selecting the spells which are to be used in which situations.

It is an incredibly descriptive book and has more information about small things (hua, hairpins, etc.) and lessons (this is the vast majority of the book) than action. The traditional gender roles is a pervasive, but less focused/minor, theme and interesting not only for Tea and women in cities, but also because Likh, a young boy, is also trying to break them to become an asha and dance with them.

Despite the limited story of training/lessons, the book was incredibly engaging. If you like action packed books, this may not be for you. The action scenes are few. At about 90% of the way through, the story begins to grow, as Tea goes to fight the dragon/avi, shirking her customers who pay for her attention/time (but not her skills). This leads me to believe future books will contain more action.

Despite it not being at all what I expected, I loved it- such an amazing world and story. It fascinated me and I could not put it down! I am really looking forward to the next installments, which promise to be more action-packed. The ending is very intriguing, and I am very curious to hear/read about how Tea's backstory continued/progressed. If only I could continue now!!

Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Was this review helpful to you? 

Comments

 
 
Ordering 
 
Already have an account? or Create an account
 
 
 
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

The Leading Edge of Now
Just when Grace is beginning to get used to...
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
9 FROM NINE WORLDS
The Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard trilogy...
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
I Do Not Trust You
Memphis "M" Engle is stubborn to a fault, graced...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
RIPPED- a Jack the Ripper Time-Travel Thriller
When a museum trip turns funky, Katie Lennox is...
 
5.0
 
4.8 (5)
Queens (The Wielders of Arantha Book 2)
A cosmic game of chess is underway, and the...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Pride
Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny,...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
The Story of B
The Story of B combines Daniel Quinn's provocative and visionary...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Dark Tales: Beauty and the Beast: A Modern Retelling
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. ...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Dark Tales: The Snow Queen: A Graphic Novel
Follow Gerda on an adventure to find her friend Kay,...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
DARK TALES: THE CALL OF CTHULHU: A Graphic Novel
In this Dark Tale, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming... ...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Dark Tales: The Hound of the Baskervilles: A Graphic Novel
Eliminate the impossible, and whatever remains, however improbable, must be...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Time Jumpers: Escape from Egypt
This series is part of Scholastic's early chapter book line,...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
NOTES FROM MY CAPTIVITY
Adrienne Cahill cares about three things: getting into a great...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
#Murdertrending
@doctorfusionbebop: Some 17 y. o. chick named Dee Guerrera was...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Unstoppable Moses
Moses and his cousin Charlie were best friends, wisecracking pranksters,...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
51HTvQF3B2L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
Alien meets Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds in this thrilling...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

Time Jumpers: Escape from Egypt
 
3.0
"Time Jumpers: Escape from Egypt offers lengthier chapter book reading, while still offering delightful illustrations more familiar to young readers..."
Mangoes, Mischief, and Tales of Friendship
 
3.0
"This book took me right back to my childhood! But what’s interesting is that the stories in this book aren’t..."
Zora & Me: The Cursed Ground
 
5.0
" Reading stories set during the time of slavery twists the stomach into a knot. Though most of us..."
Laugh-Out-Loud A+ Jokes for Kids (Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids)
 
3.5
"Yet another collection of clean kid’s jokes in the LOL series, this slim paperback offers fresh school-themed humor. As with..."
The Third Mushroom
 
4.0
"Ellie's grandfather Melvin, who turned himself into a teenager in The Fourteenth Goldfish, has gotten tired of traveling and has..."
A Long Line of Cakes
 
3.0
"'A Long Line of Cakes' by Deborah Wiles, set in a comfortably cozy town where everyone knows each other, captures..."
Are You Scared, Darth Vader?
 
5.0
" This is a fun, cute, beautifully illustrated childrens book. What scares Darth Vader? Not wolfman, vampires, ghosts or kids!..."
Clementine for Christmas
 
5.0
"Josie loves Christmas, especially making memories with her dog Clementine volunteering at the children's hospital. Oscar's parents are always fighting..."
Wicked Nix
 
5.0
"Wicked Nix is the foulest of the fairies. He's also the protector of the forest and will keep people out..."
Journey of the Pale Bear
 
5.0
"JOURNEY OF THE PALE BEAR is an inspiring and heartwarming story about a bear and a boy who develop a..."
The Attack of the Plants: A Branches Book (The Magic School Bus Rides Again)
 
4.0
"When Ms. Frizzle gets a job as a professor, her sister takes over her class as the new teacher. Arnold..."
Robot Farm (The Magic School Bus Rides Again)
 
4.0
"Wanda is putting together the Fall Fun Feast, but she forgot about the food! When she starts looking into ideas,..."
Knock Knock
 
4.5
"'Knock Knock' by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Guy Francis, is a cute picture book about a bear getting prepared for..."
Apex Predator (Horizon, Book 4)
 
4.0
" Both the members of the robotics team whose plane went down and the members of the Cub-Tones from the..."
Seeing Red (Whatever After #12)
 
4.0
"Abby is excited that her nana is coming to stay with her and Jonah while her parents are away, but..."
The Phantom Bandit (Geronimo Stilton #70)
 
4.0
"As fall approaches, Geronimo is busy working in his newspaper office when he starts to see strange things-- his co..."
The Bad Guys in Do-You-Think-He-Saurus?!: Special Edition (The Bad Guys #7)
 
4.0
"To recap the adventures of the Bad Guys so far: they were saving Earth from an alien invasion when their..."
Timmy Failure: It's the End When I Say It's the End (Timmy Failure #7)
 
4.5
"As Christmas approaches, Timmy is ready to give up his detective business, but he has one last mission: to help..."
Genius Ideas [Mostly] (Tom Gates #4)
 
4.0
"There are few things in Tom's life that are NOT made better by caramel wafer biscuits, and after he sees..."
G.I. Dogs: Sergeant Stubby, Hero Pup of World War I (G.I. Dogs #2)
 
4.0
"Stubby was adopted from the streets of Boston by Bob Conroy, who managed to sneak him on the ship his..."