by Rin Chupeco
Series: The Bone Witch #1
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.
THE BONE WITCH by Rin Chupeco is a character driven fantasy with an original premise. I was drawn to its alluring cover and the necromancy. Chupeco takes us to a world divided into kingdoms where magic and tradition are scared and feared. From her beautiful prose to the promise of things to come, I was intrigued.
Our story begins when a Bard approaches Tea, a Bone Witch, living on an island filled with bones. We learn she has been banished and he asks for her story. The story that unfolds is told from two narratives, “past” and “present.” Stories from Tea’s past made the current thread interesting as we see Tea prepare for her next move and contemplated what happened to bring us here.
The stories from the past, share Tea’s begins as she resurrects her brother from the dead graveside, meets the Bone Witch who will be her mentor. Time in the present with the bard had me craving the why and how from the past.
Chupeco described the world vividly, and while at times it made the story cumbersome I enjoyed her prose, descriptions and the depth these details created. The reader will easily be able to envision the streets of each kingdom, the colorfully and richly detailed huas worn by the Asha (magic-wielders) and the heart encased jewelry everyone wears around their necks. We get a clear understanding of the magic in this world and the different types of Asha, warriors, and hierarchy. Women hold the most scared of roles, but men still rule kingdoms. While the Bone Witch is perhaps the strongest of the Asha, she is also the most feared. You will find a multitude of influences here from the huas which resembled the Japanese geisha to the castles and social structure as well as the elemental magics of earth, the wind, water, and fire.
This world is full of good, evil and supernatural creatures created during the dark ages of magic known as Daeva. Necromancy, arranged marriages, favors, and court politicking abound. We only visit a few villages, but the maps and talk of the kingdoms helped create a sense of the world. Most of the story is spent during Tea’s training to be an Asha. Some of the customs are silly, and a lot of attention to detail was provided. Sadly, this didn’t allow for a lot of action scenes. At times these tidbits about everything from hair accessories to food weighed the tale down. I think this caused a lot of readers to abandoned ship, but I encourage you to hang in there. There are some fantastic scenes where Tea battles Daeva and makes startling discoveries.
As I said the tale doesn’t have a lot of action or movement, but the characters are rich. The Tea from the present speaking to the Bard is confident, and perhaps a little jaded and the Tea from the past is inquisitive, eager to learn, stubborn and caring. It was fascinating seeing her grow and feeling her change as she became less naive. Of course, there is a lot more to learn. We don’t yet know what events triggered her present situation. I adored her brother and found myself intrigued by the prince and his brothers. The head Asha who agrees to Tea’s training is a snarky old coot and had me laughing a time or too. I enjoyed her mentor and the sisters who took on her training. A young boy who wants to be Asha and participate in the ceremonial dances added interest and showed our heroine’ apt skills and heroism.
While at times the storyline dragged and admittedly forced me to read this in smaller doses, the writing, characters and overall story arc have me craving the next book. Fans of THE NAME OF THE WIND will enjoy this story.From the beautiful prose to the promise of things to come, I was intrigued by Bone Witch.. Click To Tweet
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