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The Bone Witch Hardcover – March 7, 2017
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From the Publisher
Enter a World with Women Who are (Literally) Dressed to Kill...
Everything you’d expect from a young adult fantasy, and more!
- A captivating world
- A story full of action, adventure, and mystery
- Beautiful writing
- A strong heroine
- Persian and Asian influenced mythology
From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Chupeco craftily weaves magic, intrigue, and mystery into a captivating tale that will leave readers begging for the promised sequel. Being a witch, or an asha, is not out of the ordinary in Tea's world, but being a "bone witch" is another matter entirely. After Tea accidentally raises her brother from the dead, she discovers that she is destined to become one of the infamous Dark asha. Dreaded and feared yet highly valued for their services, the Dark asha are the only ones who can tame the demonic daeva, who threaten the kingdoms, but their taming comes at great expense. Tea must decide if the cost of losing her life, one battle at a time, is worth staving off the demonic onslaught. Or can she choose another path to save herself, her friends, and the boy she loves? Chapters alternating between her past and present seamlessly narrate the novel, leading up to Tea's mysterious exile. Because the plotlines have yet to converge in this installment, the book ends on the most excruciating of cliff-hangers. Chupeco uses vivid, descriptive detail, with nominal coarse language and violence, to set a rich tone that immerses readers in a vibrant and believable world. The short alternating chapters help move the story along quickly. VERDICT A strong choice for engaging reluctant readers and younger fans of fantasy who might not be ready to heft titles by Ursula K. LeGuin or Tamora Pierce.—Rose Garrett, Cliff Valley School, Atlanta
"Mesmerizing. Chupeco (The Suffering) does a magnificent job of balancing an intimate narrative perspective with sweeping worldbuilding, crafting her tale within a multicultural melting pot of influences as she presses toward a powerful cliffhanger." - Publishers Weekly,starred review
"The Bone Witch is fantasy world-building at its best, and Rin Chupeco (The Girl from the Well; The Suffering) has created a strong and colorful cast of characters to inhabit that realm. " - Shelf Awareness, starred review
"Readers who enjoy immersing themselves in detail will revel in Chupeco's finely wrought tale. Game of Thrones fans may see shades of Daenerys Targaryen in Tea, as she gathers a daeva army to unleash upon the world. Whether she is in the right remains a question unanswered, but the ending makes it clear her story is only beginning." - Booklist
"Chupeco delights us with a fascinating world and a rich atmosphere for a story that is exceptionally written from beginning to end." - Buzzfeed.com
"Rin Chupeco already captivated and horrified us with The Girl from the Well, but she may have outdone herself on this one. The Bone Witch is the first in a new series about a young witch who realizes she has the dark gift of necromancy after she accidentally raises her brother from the dead. Now, an older bone witch has taken Tea under her wing to teach her the art. The story has been pitched as high fantasy meets Memoirs of a Geisha, so yes, you need your hands on it now." - Bustle.com
"Chupeco craftily weaves magic, intrigue, and mystery into a captivating tale that will leave readers begging for the promised sequel." - School Library Journal
"The Bone Witch is a fantasy lover's fantasy, with a rich history and hierarchy of its own. The secrets and workings of its magic are revealed slowly in a suspenseful novel that is sure to appeal to those with a love of serious, dark fairytales." - Foreword Reviews
"Fans of high fantasy looking for diverse representation will be eager to get their hands on this book...this will become a series to be reckoned with." - School Library Connection
"A high-fantasy Memoirs of a Geisha, Chupeco's latest excels in originality... Chupeco is a writer to watch." - Kirkus
"In this sweeping high fantasy, Chupeco concocts a grim world of magic, both light and dark" - Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Top customer reviews
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Tea, a young girl of 12, accidentally raises her brother from the dead at his funeral. In this abrupt way she learns that she is a bone witch, a rare form of asha. She must learn to control her magic so it does not destroy her and goes away to school for training.
The description does not do this book justice. I was enraptured in this world, learning about the countries and the politics in place, the creatures that live there, and the different roles in their society. This first book goes through Tea's training to become an asha, starting at age 12 through about 15. Woven into the story, however, are snippets from the present where Tea is now 17, in completely different circumstances, and has become quite the bad ass.
I understand why some people could find this book a bit slow. There is not a ton of action going on until a lot closer to the end, but I don't think that means that it's lacking. The purpose hear was all about Tea's growth as a character as she grows up, where she started and how she got closer to where she is in the present, and the in depth world building that is necessary. It feels just like I would expect a first book in a series to feel when it starts out narrating a character's beginnings. There may not be much fighting or action, but that didn't make Tea's journey to be an asha feel any less important.
By the end, I was thoroughly invested in the character and excited for action packed journey that's clearly coming in the future. The ending finished on a satisfying note while still leaving me pumped and longing for the second book to come. All on its own, this book isn't exactly awe inspiring, but as a beginning to a series it is amazing. I was enormously pleased by the end of the book and cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel.
I would rate this book a 4.5 out of 5. I loved the world and the journey this book created in it's own right, and it was made only that much better by the great things it promises to come. 4 for the great read on it's own, with a potential to reach a 5 if the sequel holds up to its promise.
So it’s become a thing where if a book I got a review copy of has been out for so long that it goes on sale for cheap, I buy it. Might be a print copy of the book in a bookstore, might be a Kindle book. It’s my apology for being such a failure of a reviewer, especially if the book is by and about marginalized people. The Bone Witch was one such case. The book left me underwhelmed, but I don’t regret buying it or reading it one little bit. I just wanted more from it.
The worldbuilding and plot are the novel’s strongest points by far. Following Tea from the time her powers as a dead-raising bone witch awaken at her brother’s funeral to when she becomes a full-fledged asha, Chupeco’s fantasy world unfolds naturally as Tea herself learns about the surprisingly superficial asha system while a maid and then apprentice in House Valerian, one of many asha collectives in The Willows, a district of the city of Ankyo. More powerful asha will fight, sure, but a surprising amount of an asha’s time is spent as an entertainer at nobles’ parties as an entertainer. Upon becoming an asha, they have to pay their House back all the money that was spent on them.
It sounds like a criticism of the novel, but the shallow superficiality of the system was actually one of the most interesting points of the worldbuilding. It’s such an obvious flaw that there’s simply no way it won’t come back up later. Since an older Tea is in exile and ready to raise some hell, perhaps she came to the same realizations. She’s fourteen when she’s an apprentice and seventeen as an exile, leaving a gap of three years where something drastically changed Tea.
Most of the novel focuses on Tea’s time as a fourteen-year-old asha apprentice, the process of becoming an asha, and the very slowly unfolding mystery of who is causing chaos within the city. Though all of it is interesting as Tea’s world unfolds itself before our eyes, the actual pacing of The Bone Witch is glacial. Most of the novel’s forward momentum comes not from the above-listed events but from interlude-esque sections in which an older, exiled Tea is telling her story to an unnamed bard. She slowly reveals her plans for war to him and (not unsurprisingly) freaks him out.
Though I don’t know the proper name for it, this literary device is so irritating. Another example: when you read the action-packed prologue to a 400-page book only for the novel to meander along uninterestingly until that action finally kicks in around page 390. It’s a teasing attempt to up the pacing of any slow-moving novel and it rarely works. Here, it’s just annoying. It’s clear something happened to change Tea after the end of her apprenticeship, but the novel doesn’t feature that event. We only get mentions of that big something and implications about it.
That massive gap between who she was in the past and who she was now, leaving readers with questions about what in the world happened, is simply too much for me. A guessing game is not what I wanted from this book. Though its sequel The Heart Forger is out now, I don’t have much interest in picking it up since its jacket copy implies it’s picking up and sticking with where the older Tea’s story left off. It’s worth reading for the brilliance of the worldbuilding, but The Bone Witch is ultimately a mixed bag.
I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
I received an advanced readers copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration.
Most recent customer reviews
This book was really different. It was really slow paced in this book, lots of world building, but at the end of each chapter she is talking...Read more
The Bone Witch follows Tea, a young girl who discovers she can raise the dead after...Read more