Book #39: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

I received a copy via NetGalley for an honest opinion. All that follows are my words and I was not compensated.

I fell in love with Chupeco’s different writing styles in her debut, The Girl From the Well. Though the second book was written similar to other young adult books, there was enough uniqueness that I was pulled to her as an author. It doesn’t seem she likes to stick to convention. Which is a personality trait that can either kill or strengthen a writer.

It strengthens her.

The Bone Witch is another one of those books that is written differently than most young adult fantasies. It’s written different from other fantasies. In my opinion, to call it young adult is a bit of a disservice. Sure, Tea, the main character, is a teenager, but I feel this book would be just as comfortable in a fantasy/sci-fi shelf.

The first thing I noticed about the book is the separation within the chapters. There are the italicized parts, which are set in the present time, and the regular text parts, which are Tea’s past. Both are written in first person, but the italicized is narrated by a bard from the country, Drycht. I’m not sure he was ever named . . .

The second thing I noticed is how close it is to Memoirs of a Geisha. It was like reading a more magical and young adult version. It is a clever way to pull the reader into the fantasy world and I wasn’t put off by this quality. If anything, it made the world real and the magic system believable.

The world is extensive. You are given exposition through characters talking, the lessons Tea goes through, or the play that the people of Ankyo watch every year. I love this in a fantasy. I dislike getting everything from the mouth of the author. I want the full immersion. And I get that in this book.

The magic system, the cultures, everything seems to be a hodge podge of East meets West. It’s like Chupeco picked and pulled, morphed and shaped, and made a world all of her own. It is phenomenal how much thought and work had to go with making the world.

That alone gives this book a high level in my opinion.

That said, the story itself wasn’t a big action filled story. There wasn’t a lot of political intrigue or backstabbing, which you see in a lot of fantasy. It was more of a great introduction to the world and Tea as a character.

So far I have yet to find a book by Rin Chupeco that I haven’t loved. I will be watching out for the next book in the series. I have to. I’m not sure if Tea is a good guy or not . . .

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