Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise.
Publication date: March 7th 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Age group & genre: Young Adult Fantasy
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.
Content Warning/s: Cutting to invoke magic
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Prior to finding out that Rin Chupeco is a Filipino author and hearing everyone’s praises for The Shadowglass, the final book in this series, I had no interest in picking this book up. I had heard a lot of complaints about it being slow. Though I can see where people are coming from, I still enjoyed the plot very much.
The Bone Witch follows the journey, recounted by present Tea, of young Tea, who discovers her necromancy powers and subsequently trains to become an asha. Much of the plot simply follows Tea’s training, but through this, we’re given an intimate look of what an asha’s life is like, and I loved it. I especially loved the concept of the hua, a dress that all asha wear, with designs that are particular to their personality.
More than that, I loved getting to see Tea in the present. In this review’s title, I called The Bone Witch a villain origin story, and that’s because Tea’s situation in the present chapters is akin to that of a villain’s. She’s been exiled, and she’s raising an army of daeva, mythical monsters that have plagued her world for centuries. I am so excited to learn about how she got to this point, and how she’s gonna use this army.
However, I had such a problem with the writing and world building. Throughout the book, I constantly had to reread sentences because I just couldn’t absorb them. I don’t know if any of you have encountered this problem too, but I take this as a sign of faulty writing that doesn’t flow very easily.
Countries and cities were just name dropped, and by the end of the book, I still couldn’t get a good grasp of their defining attributes. I also had a hard time understanding the heartsglass system. In the eight kingdoms, everyone has to wear a heartsglass around their necks, and their heartsglasses change color according to what they’re feeling. It took me a long time to grasp just why everyone had to wear heartsglasses, and how this system worked in general.
World building aside, let’s talk about the characters.
▪ Tea Pahlavi– I much preferred present Tea to younger Tea. I didn’t dislike younger Tea, but she wasn’t that memorable to me. I’m much more interested in seeing how present Tea plans to conquer the whole eight kingdoms with her dead lover and an army of monsters by her side.
▪ Fox Pahlavi– I appreciated the strong sibling bond depicted between him and Tea, and I’m excited to learn what exactly happened between them. Much like younger Tea, he just wasn’t that memorable.
▪ Lady Mykaela– Getting to learn about her past was so heartbreaking and I felt so much for her. I love the student-mentor bond she formed with Tea, and I really hope she gets a happy ending.
There is no greater strength than the ability to understand and accept your own flaws.
▪ Prince Kance– Tea has a schoolgirl crush on him, because well, he’s a prince and he’s handsome, but I found him pretty bland, and it’s obvious that Tea isn’t gonna end up with him.
▪ Lord Kalen– Kalen does fill the brooding boy with a tragic past trope, but I’m trash for him anyway. I’m so excited to learn more about him and see his relationship with Tea progress.
▪ Likh– Likh is probably on the trans spectrum! I think this is gonna be explored more and confirmed in the sequels, but in the mean time, I adored how Chupeco used Likh’s character to question gender roles.
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.
Overall, what I appreciated the most about The Bone Witch was getting to see Tea become an asha. I loved following her entertain guests at parties, while learning how to use death magic at the same time. I simply had such a hard time with this book’s writing and world building.
The Verdict: 🌟🌟🌟
The Bone Witch is the perfect example of 3-star books not being bad books. I still enjoyed it a lot, and I’m so excited to continue on with this series, no matter how bad I am at reading sequels!