Title: The Bone Witch
Author: Rin Chupeco
In the captivating start to a new, darkly lyrical fantasy series for readers of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir, Tea can raise the dead, but resurrection comes at a price…
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.
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.
“I am no longer an asha, Bard; they are beloved by the people, and I am not. My exile here, at the end of the world, is proof of that. They have another name for those like me. Call me a bone witch; it suits me better.”
I have had this book sitting on my shelf for so long, and I was so excited to finally get to read it. It is probably one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen, and I was so happy to learn that the writing beneath the cover is just as gorgeous and unique.
Tea is both our main character and our narrator, and we are told the story in two perspectives: Tea at 17, relating to a bard everything that has happened, and Tea at 12-15, as she lives out the events she’s describing. Tea is a Bone Witch: an asha that can raise the dead. Asha are basically Geisha, and most can perform other types of magic: fire, wind, earth, and water. Dark asha are feared and ostracized, despite having the important duty of protecting the kingdom from Daeva, monsters created with death magic.
As our story begins, Tea doesn’t yet know what type of magic she’ll have (if any), but learns she’s a bone witch on the day of her brother’s funeral. She accidentally raises him from the dead, and after that, everything changes. Her heartglass turns silver, and a nearby bone witch, Mykaela, comes to take Tea under her wing. I absolutely adored Tea’s and Fox’s relationship. I’m always a sucker for sibling stories, and these two have such a special bond, and are so determined to look out for each other. Their relationship is so genuine: they have squabbles and sometimes wish for more privacy, but underneath it all, there is so much love for one another.
I actually liked Tea at 17 much much better than Tea at 12-15, and those excerpts of her talking to the Bard were my favorite parts of the book. Tea at 12-15 is honestly a little arrogant and self-involved, and sometimes I just wanted to give her a good shake. But I did enjoy watching her go through her schooling to become an Asha, and watching her form friendships and grow into her power. Tea at 17 is much more grounded, but sadder. She knows she has made difficult choices that have hurt others, and carries that responsibility with her. She has grown into her power, but with that recognizes that she has to accept the full weight of what that means.
We can endure any amount of sadness for the people we love.
I already mentioned this, but the writing in this book is simply extraordinary. It is so beautiful and descriptive, and very unlike anything I’ve read before. I was also really impressed with how our different ages of Tea felt like different versions of the same person. You could really feel the experiences she’s had weighing on her, and see how she had grown and changed over the years.
There were so many fantastic characters in this book. I already mentioned Tea and Fox, but Mykaela was one of the show-stealers for me. Mykaela takes Tea to begin her training as a dark asha, and she is such a strong and vibrant female character. Tea couldn’t have asked for a better role model to look up to. We also get to meet Likh, who is a boy with a silver heartglass. Normally, men do not become asha – men with silver heartglasses become Deathseekers, or fighters. However, Likh’s true passion is the arts, and I loved seeing Tea and her friends fight for him and his right to choose his own path.
“Then perhaps we should carve a world one day where the strength lies in who you are rather than in what they expect you to be.”
We also meet Prince Kance and his body guard, Kalen. Kance is Tea’s first crush, but I’ll be honest: I didn’t see it. He never really appealed to me, and the romance fell a little flat. It didn’t feel very fleshed out, and I never bought the two of them together – which made a little more sense as I continued reading.
My biggest complaint with this book was the pacing. The first half flew by and I couldn’t get enough, but the second half really dragged for me. In part I think it was because I wasn’t a huge fan of Tea at this point, at least 12-15 year old Tea. I would have been happy to have had the whole story told as 17 year old Tea. However, I’m definitely still intrigued by this story and will continue reading to see where it goes. If you love unique, lyrical writing and stories full of magic and necromancy, this is the book for you!
Buddy read with Amy @ A Court of Crowns and Quills 🙂