The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco
Release date: 01.03.2017 by Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5 stars – ★★★★.5
I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my opinion in any way.
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.
The synopsis describes this book as Memoirs of a Geisha meets The Name of the Wind. I haven’t read Memoirs of a Geisha, so I can’t attest for that. What I can say is that this story is told in a similar manner as The Name of the Wind. There are two timelines: one in the present, and one in the past. Tea, as a 17-year-old, tells her story to a Bard, thus giving us the past timeline starting when she was 13 (I believe).
I have to admit that the reason I didn’t give this 5 stars is because I was a tad confused about the world at times. Which kingdoms existed? Who are the rulers? In hindsight, I do admit that was kind of my fault because there is a glossary of the kingdoms with their most significant aspects and rulers at the end. Oops. It cleared up a lot…
This is an Asian-inspired fantasy world, I believe. Sometimes, I find it hard to pick up an influence in a fantasy book. But here, I could definitely notice in the clothing, the food, etc. I really enjoyed it! I especially liked the intricate descriptions of the hua -the traditional clothing of an asha. Each asha has her own, designed especially for her and it is highly frowned upon to wear another asha’s hua. They are designed especially for each asha: the colors are carefully chosen to match their skin tone and hair, the designs have a meaning to each woman.
In this world, there are asha who are women who can wield magic. Yes, only women. The men who can wield magic become Deathseekers (I believe that’s the name). The asha are not just magic wielders, they are also entertainers. They learn to sing, dance, play instruments, talk about politics, etc. They need to be trained however. This is usually done in the Willows, where each asha has a house that supports her -which is called an asha-ka. Tea is brought to House Valerian. In the Willows, there are many different asha-ka, and merchants who sell the special clothes and jewelry to them.
Tea is born and raised in Knightscross, a small farm village in the kingdom of Odalia. When she shows herself to be a Dark asha/bone witch, she is taken to the kingdom of Kion, where the Willows are. There, she is trained as a dark asha so she can fight and defeat the monsters called the daeva.
The magic in this book is called by using runes. There are several types of runes and magic: Fire, Water, etc. Yet it’s not like every asha only chooses one type. Many are versed in all, yet prefer one. Aside from the Dark asha.
I feel like this will be the shortest part of my review, because I want you to discover as much as possible on your own.
Like I said, we follow Tea as she tells her story to the Bard. I actually found myself most intrigued by the Tea in the present timeline, because she seemed so wise, but hardened and disillusioned about the world as well. The story starts when Tea raises her brother from the dead, and spans about 2 years. So we follow her from age 13 to 15, while the present timeline Tea is 17 years old.
I so badly want to know what happened to Tea to get her in that position! I really have to know. Especially after that ending… With one sentence, Rin Chupeco managed to throw me off completely (regarding the: “my love”). I am so scared, because it will be months before this one is released. And then probably around a year more for the next one. HELP ME.
I’ve been having some trouble finishing books lately -I’ve only finished two in the entire month of August. Yet I couldn’t put this one down. I found myself reading whenever I had the smallest amount of spare time -although I took me a little while to get over my confusion about the kingdoms. Pro tip: check the glossary in the back.
I’m only going to talk about Tea (which I’m fairly sure is pronounced as Tee-yuh) because she’s the only one mentioned in the synopsis. But rest assured, there are many side characters I absolutely adored/was intrigued by too. I really enjoyed the many friendships she developed over those 2 years.
I really liked Tea’s character. She obviously cares very much for those she considers her friends, whether they are her superior or “subordinate”. I like how she always tries to help them, sometimes coming up with the craziest ideas to do so. She started off as a village girl with many prejudices (as taught to her). But she was shown how prejudiced her thoughts truly were, and tried to work to be more open.
There is such a big difference in Tea as a 13-year-old, and Tea as a 17-year-old. A massive difference. I feel like she has already come a long way in those 2 years, and developed a lot. 15-year-old Tea is much more accepting of others, respectful and smart than 13-year-old Tea. Yet I so badly want to know what happened to her! How did she get so wise, calm, strong yet angry? Maybe angry is not the right word. She is decided. Decided on what needs to be done, on what is right. And I’m intrigued to find out more.
I love that she addresses equality, prejudice, traditions from different kingdoms and so on. All important topics.
To be honest, I don’t often include quotes in my reviews. I’m trying to be more diligent about it, and remind myself. With this book, I didn’t need reminders, as there were several quotes that stood out to me.
Please bear in mind that I took these quotes from an ARC copy, thus they may be subject to change.
“You think in the same way men drink, Tea,” my father once said, “far too much, under the delusion it is too little.”
The only sight I seem to possess nowadays is hindsight.
“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.”.
“This is my new family. This is my new identity. I will be the bone witch the kingdom fears, and I will make them pay.”
There are many other quotes I would like to add, in particular one from one of the last chapters. But I feel like it may be a tiny spoiler on the present timeline, so I won’t. I just want to show you that this book is so quotable.
I am always scared to recommend books to others. What if they don’t like it? And I am really feeling that fear right now. I absolutely loved this book. Yet it’s months to the release date. I went into this book with little expectations, which I think always helps. I both want to shout from the rooftops that I love this book, and keep the hype from becoming overwhelming.
But I have to be honest and share MY opinion. I really enjoyed this book, and the format it was written in. I liked the world, and the Asian influences I could pick up on. I liked the main character, the friendships and the rivalries that turn into something better. I like that romance is a tad present, but not overwhelming. I liked that the author still managed to surprise me with the last sentence. The only thing I had an “issue” with was the separation of the different kingdoms in my mind. Like I said, it may help to know there is a glossary in the back of the book/ebook.