Back in December I was browsing through my NetGalley emails (as book reviewers are known to do) and came across one with a book cover that was just beautiful:
Then I saw the comparison description: Memoirs of a Geisha meets The Name of the Wind.
But the teaser quote really sealed the deal:
“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.”
This book promised to incorporate all the things I love in dark fantasy. Plus, it looked like there’d be some creepy wicked imagery…because necromancy.
Seriously…I mean, SERIOUSLY?!?!
Needless to say, I clicked the request button…
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
Synopsis: 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.
Series: The Bone Witch #1
Published by Sourcebooks on March 7th 2017
Where to Find It: Amazon|B&N|Shop Indie|Goodreads
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Wizards & Witches, Action & Adventure, General, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal
FTC Disclosure: I received access to this book early through Netgalley (for free) in exchange for a review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Bone Witch is a magical tale beautifully steeped in culture with stunning descriptions. Rin Chupeco’s built a world with hills worth climbing and valleys that invite you to linger while traveling through.
This is a dark fantasy like no other; a coming of age story with more than a hint of destiny lingering in the air. Chupeco’s created a land of dark mysticism and beautiful complicated relationships that takes witchery and the paranormal to a whole other place where choices are never easy and the future has yet to be written. Her writing choices evoke images of the oral history keepers and provokes questions about not only the objectivity of her narrator but the struggle to understand the motives of the one sharing their story.
The Bone Witch captures your attention with an opening scene that invokes a visceral reaction and peaks your curiosity. Tea is simultaneously coquettish and cavalier as she shares her story. You’ll quickly find yourself fully invested in the complicated hierarchy of this society and intrigued to discover how not only Tea fits in but what could she possibly have done to end up exiled on a desolate beach surrounded by sand and bones…
You’ll hold your breath as her story unfolds and you gain insight into her growth, her relationships with those around her, and the stark choices Tea’s eventually driven to make. As she comes into her own, her startling fierceness will have you rooting even as you wish she’d be more cautious and have greater care as she learns to navigate a world drowning in intrigue and machinations that carry often fatal consequences.
Rin Chupeco’s storytelling is immediately rich and her characters’ voices engrossing. Her protagonist and narrator are each written with such distinctive voices that navigating a tale told in shifts between the present and the past is an immersive pleasure. Her use of the unexpected is striking and her character development masterful. Tea is on a journey of self-discovery fraught with (mis)adventure, mystery, and guided by fate’s heavy hand. This is a dark fairy tale epic and unpredictable in nature, full of suspense and intrigue. The Bone Witch not only creates a world worth (re)reading about; Chupeco fulfills her own prediction, its strength lies in exceeding all expectation.
Rating: 5 out of 5
The Bone Witch didn’t disappoint in any way. This is a land like no other I’ve read about – and can I say it being a very non-western world makes me gleeful. I’m excited to see where this series leads; so much so I’m headed out to buy the hardback and harass my favorite independent bookstore about inviting this author out for a book signing.
[Update]: seems at least one person at Mysterious Galaxy agrees with me. The Bone Witch is the young adult Fantastic First selection for March!
If you want to know more, head over to The Bone Witch page and check out the extras. You know I did: