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Bone and Jewel Creatures Hardcover – March 31, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Into a slim volume Bear packs the kind of intrigue, detailed world building, and passionate characters found in her longer books. Aging artificer Bijou, a wizard of Messaline, remains spry because she works the forge during the building of her beloved bone and jewel creatures. One equinox, her former apprentice Brazen brings her a feral child, poisoned by sorcery, and Bijou fashions an arm of bones and pearl for it. The child, whom Bijou calls Emeraude, turns out to be the opening salvo in a battle between Bijou and her old nemesis and former lover, who has created a plague that is poisoning the city. Bijou, of course, is the only one with any hope of saving the city from this necromancy. In the ensuing struggle, decades of betrayal are finally resolved. Because of the scale of the novella, many things are only hinted in it, so artfully that what are tantalizing glimpses of its world seem much, much larger than the page count would seem to allow. --Regina Schroeder
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 133 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean Press; 1 edition (March 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596062746
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596062740
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,781,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stefan VINE VOICE on August 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In Bone and Jewel Creatures, a beautiful new novella by Elizabeth Bear, Bijou the Artificer creates her own servants and companions by animating bones. When her former apprentice, Brazen the Enchanter, brings her a feral, mute child, she is presented with the challenge of fixing its misshapen arm... which is also infected by a mysterious disease that soon turns out be the first sign of a sorcerous plague.

At just 136 pages, Bone and Jewel Creatures packs a strong punch. Bijou is a fascinating main character -- an aging wizard surrounded by her own wondrous creatures, some of which, by themselves, make this book worth reading. The arrival of the feral child sets off a complex plot involving Bijou's past, the political history of the land, an intriguing religion, and three distinct modes of magic. There's quite a lot more material packed into this short novella than you'd initially expect -- and as with all the best novellas, you'll be satisfied with the ending while at the same time hoping for future stories set in the same world.

The story is told in gorgeous prose, frequently very lyrical and on a few occasions even surprisingly funny. The combination of the poetic style and the main character's occupation at times made me think of Bijou as an older version of Casimira from Catherynne M. Valente's Palimpsest -- and readers who enjoyed that excellent novel may well enjoy Bone and Jewel Creatures. Recommended.
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By Fayanora on January 3, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A fun experiment, fascinating characters. I wish the story could have been longer, I enjoyed it so much. Especially good was the inclusion of two unusual character types: an old woman protagonist (a black woman, no less!), and a feral child. In fact, several scenes were from the point of view of the feral child, which I don't think I've ever seen before anywhere else.

The story is paced to match the old creakiness of the protagonist and antagonist, while still engaging the reader's attention and interest. All this set in a world of rich culture and beauty that leaves me wanting to read more. I look forward to reading the prequel!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My pleasure spots:

1. A thorough grasp of the human condition,
2. An honest, head-on depiction of evil - not a caricature of it,
3. Total absence of GRATUITOUS nastiness,
4. Children being given what they need in a non-sentimental way,
5. Animals being saved - in a non-sentimental way,
6. Old women done well (they're neither witches, nor sages of great wisdom, nor children with wrinkles & ailments),
7. Young women done well (not just martial-art/weapons experts with Barbie bodies),
8. Men (young and old) done well,
9. Neither men nor women being the Source Of All Evil,
10. Neither men nor women being condescended to, or ridiculed,
11. Everyone is not white all the time, or even most of the time, and sometimes not at all,
12. Excellent world-building,
13. Good flow and pacing in the narrative,
14. Good balance between action and complex character development,
15. A poet's ear for words, images, & rhythm,
16. And - that rarest of things - a story without explosions that's nevertheless devastating.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The problem with Elizabeth Bear's writing is that she sets herself a really high bar. I have nothing to fault in the execution or construction of this story, just that it didn't tug at my heartstrings or explode my mind.

The best part of the book was the world, and the magical creations that exist in it, the bone and jewel creatures of the title. Those shimmer against the dusty city. The least compelling part is probably the plot, which hits predictable emotional notes. It's possible I actually yelled "NOT THE MOMMY ISSUES" at my ebook.

Read if: You'd like a viewpoint character who is old, one who really feels the weight of years. If you'd like a viewpoint character who is nonverbal but not unintelligent.

Skip if: You are really not up to reading about maggots, necrosis, or necromancers.

Also read: Love in the Time of Cholera (Oprah's Book Club) for an older viewpoint character struggling with age, and meditating on love, patience, and creepy stalker lovers.
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I love her writing, and this is a lovely novella, but felt truncated, part, perhaps, of a larger work. Or a piece hanging out in her brain that had to be got out, but had not yet a larger context? I am rather hoping for a fitting context for it further down the line. I confess to preferring novel length or even longer story lines. Don't ignore this, but be aware of a feeling of abruptness in the end.
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Well, Ms Bear sure knows how to rip your guts out. This was a tremendously well-crafted story. Each piece was a gem of the highest quality and the whole was a work of art. I adore the characters and the writing quirks suited the story. Every time I read Ms Bear's writing I'm reminded again what a brilliant storyteller she is in every way.
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Once you start reading, you are immersed into Elizabeth Bear's world. 'Bone and Jewel Creatures' took disturbing words and imagery, drawing you immediately into the pain and drama of what was happening to the characters, even if you didn't quite understand who and what you were. The characters were full fleshed and powerful, dealing with a unearthly and terrifying situation, which became real and terrifying.
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