The story alternates between two voices. Tea is our voice in first person for the past (majority of the book) and an alternate character's voice also in first person is for for the present (short bursts in between each chapter). This allows readers to see inside the characters heads more, even if there is little to see.
Tea is very strong but also impatient, so we mostly see her struggle to learn more faster. She throws herself into some situations where she shouldn't, because she wants to test herself and taste more of that wondrous power she feels every time she uses dark magic. She is impulsive and doesn't necessarily think things through before she acts. We don't see much of her actual character however, because she was mostly busy with training and talking about which parts she liked and didn't like. We do get to see some relatable childish rebellion though, such as skipping lessons, playing little pranks of sorts, and keeping secrets. Granted, Tea's secrets are a lot darker and more dangerous than expected of a fifteen year old.
The premise of this novel definitely intrigued me, and the story started off strong. Rich details and a unique world enriched the reading experience, and one can easily tell how much a hua means to an Asha. While I enjoyed learning about the training and what it takes to become an Asha, I must admit that there was too much even for me. Most of the novel is training (as a maid, as an apprentice) of fighting, history, social behaviour by attending parties, flowers, proper appearance, magic, and dancing/singing. We learned of the different rankings in each and which Tea excelled in and felt little for. The issue with this however is that it is repetitive and gives very little personality for the characters.
As for romance, it's hard to say that there is any. Tea has feelings for someone yes, but that someone fails to notice and do nothing comes from it. We mostly see Tea stumble over words and thoughts in the character's presence. And by the end, in one of the bursts of the present, we see her with someone she calls "my love", though this has yet to be touched upon. Hopefully the next book will bring clarification.
While the writing is flowery and rich, it affects the plot. There is very little room for plot when most of the pages are filled with descriptions of pretty hua's and buildings and training. It may feel like a lot has happened, but it also feels like nothing did at the same time. There is definitely potential, so hopefully the second book focuses more on character development and plot.
Overall, The Bone Witch is an intriguing tale that is both unique and beautifully visual. While there are some issues for me, I still very much enjoyed reading this novel.