THE BONE WITCH
AUTHOR: RIN CHUPECO
SERIES: THE BONE WITCH, #1
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: FANTASY, PARANORMAL, YA
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.
This book’s a little difficult to rate. I struggled to get into it a little at the beginning, and found it slow in places, but also really enjoyed it? It’s also hard to describe. It’s something like a villain’s origin story or Memoirs of a Geisha meets AHS Coven (but YA, obvs)?
The book uses a nice framing technique, Tea (the protagonist) is telling her story, while setting up for the sequel, so there’s a bit of foreshadowing and hinting going on from the start. The flashbacks (the main part of the story) cover the period of Tea’s training and apprenticeship as a Dark Asha. Because of this, sometimes the story has quite a ‘and then this happened, and then that happened’ feel as it covers day-to-day activities, day-in-the-life type stuff. You feel even without the ‘present day’ elements, that this is a first instalment, setting up for the action of a sequel.
On the other hand, the low action plot doesn’t matter, because you’ll be too busy admiring Chupeco’s writing. The language itself is beautiful, full of elaborate descriptions of drool-worth foods and stunning clothes. Especially the food, oh my gosh, the food! The Asha culture, politico-social structures and magic system is also really well described and interesting to see. The more inter-country politics are a lot broader, and gone into in less detail, but there’s enough to really set the context of the Asha and Tea’s place in the world.
There’s also some great relationships in this book. My favourite is Tea’s relationship with her dead brother, Fox. There’s an understanding and supportiveness between the two that I don’t see often in books so I really enjoyed that. Tea also has great relationships with her mentor Mykela and the other asha (although there is the stereotype ‘high-school’ bitch too…) Oddly, although Tea’s romantic relationships are really stressed in the ‘current day’ as her motivation (meeting her two love interests on the same day, ‘the man she loved’ being killed) for action, it doesn’t really play much of a part except in passing. It’s pretty obvious who they are, but what little we see on page is nicely done.