Note: Top Shelf Text was provided with a copy of this text by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!
It's been a while since I've read a good fantasy novel, and despite my history of avoiding young adult fantasies, there was something about this new fantasy series from Rin Chupeco that drew me in. The Bone Witch introduces us to Tea, a fourteen-year-old girl who accidentally resurrects her brother from his grave. This act reveals that she belongs to an unusual class of magical women, called asha, and furthermore, that she is one of only a few women who can conjure dark runes -- in other words, she can perform death magic. There's more to the story here, including a relatively innocent crush on a prince, lots of intrigue, and some really memorable characters. I was worried about the story being cheesy (you know, in the way that YA can sometimes be), but the plot was interesting, with allusions to catastrophe and a definite cliffhanger leading into the second book. What I was most surprised by was the world building in this book --it was certainly more sophisticated than I was expecting. I could tell as I was reading that Chupeco had a clear picture of the details of this world, and I loved how the setting and rules of society were revealed without it feeling like an information dump.
There was only one thing that seemed a little strange to me, and it has to do with the duties of an asha. In this world, the asha are -- from what I could tell -- essentially like geishas. Their job is to entertain their hosts with dancing and conversation. As soon as I realized this parallel, I had trouble aligning it with the fate and duties of Tea in particular. While a typical asha would not have any duties outside of entertainment, Tea's dark magic put her in a different class from other ashas -- not only was she expected to be skilled in the entertaining arts, as a bone witch she was also expected to protect the kingdom from dangerous beasts. It felt strange to me that she was still expected to take singing lessons when she really needed to be trained further in the dark runes. I'm hoping the reasons for her participation in the more frivolous arts will be revealed in further installments. I will definitely be following the series as its released. Though I don't read much YA, I would recommend this to fans of Game of Thrones and similar fantasies with magic, beasts, intrigue, and the like. I also want to mention that there was a twist thrown in at the very end that has me impatient for the second book (but I won't ruin it for you here)! This title will be released on March 7, 2017 and is available now at a pre-order price!
Bottom Line Rating: 4/5
- Title: The Bone Witch
- Author: Rin Chupeco
- Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire, 2017
- Price: $12 to pre-order on Amazon
- ISBN: 1492635820
- Format: E-book
- Source: Net Galley