I read this for #TheReadingQuest. Book 3, a Book That Contains Magic DONE. I am at this point pretty confident that I will finish my quest. Given that I have deadlines coming out of my ears and that The Buried Giant threw me into a bit of a slump, I’m feeling good about how I’ve done.
Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracised 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, wider bone witch. There, Tea puts all 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.
Lyrical and action packed, this new fantasy series by acclaimed author Rin Chupeco will leave you breathless.
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco is a villain’s origin story unafraid to take its time. Told between the past and the present, we get to know 14-year-old Tea, enthused to become an asha and serve her kingdom, at the same time as seeing 17-year-old Tea, hell bent on destroying that very same place.
Why? We don’t know yet.
As I’ve mentioned, the narrative of The Bone Witch is pretty slow. Though I have to admit there were times when it failed to hold my attention, overall I think this technique was effective. As the plot currently stands, it’s very hard to see the events that would lead Tea to become the person we know that she does, and if Chupeco were to rush that process the story would be weak and unsatisfying as a result. A good villain story builds itself up to its highest point before the fall, and this building was the business of book 1.Chupeco even goes so far as to reference deaths that don’t even take place during the first book’s narrative, which is an interesting choice that really builds the tension.
As much as I love Tea and I’m sad to see what has become of her, I’m oddly curious to see exactly how it all goes to hell.
The Bone Witch is a strong first book that absolutely makes me want to continue with the series. My main complaint was with the three guys in the royal family, Kance, Khalad and Kalan. Reading that while extremely tired, which I almost always am, was no joke. It was like being back in the mid-00s before we all knew which Kardashian was which.
That complaint aside, characterisation in this novel was strong. Although Chupeco set the groundwork for a potential love triangle featuring the uninteresting Kance (or, as I like to think of him, the Stefan Salvatore of the story), overall she majored on Tea’s relationship with her brother/familiar Tea raised from the dead, Fox (LOVE HIM. Fox, you can be my dead boyfriend any day of the week.) and her dynamic with the other witches she lives and trains with. Watching Tea find her place in this group of strong, loyal and close women was wonderful. I particularly enjoyed the ‘mother’ of the witch school, Mistress Parmina, cast in the role of withholding mentor so often given to a man (think: Dr Cox in Scrubs, Cal Lightman in Lie To Me and Sam Sylvia in GLOW) and Tea’s evolving friendship with Zoya, the mean girl. Main girl becoming besties with mean girl is my favourite female friendship trope. I just love the mean girl in general (think: Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl and Coco Connors from Dear White People. BE BESTIES WITH ME PLEASE.).
This magical tale of necromancy, coming-of-age and mysterious betrayal is a compelling start to a story I definitely want to know the ending of.
9 thoughts on “#TheReadingQuest: The Bone Witch”
Kance, Khalad and Kalan are awful names to stick together in one book. When I’m picking out names for stories, I try to make sure they’re as different as possible so that the reader won’t be reading quickly and then get them mixed up.
Riiight?! I could not be dealing with that.
Lovely review! I’m really happy you enjoyed this book overall – I have read mixed reviews about it and wasn’t sure whether or not to read it. I’m still a bit unsure, but you certainly made me curious about it all again. I really like the mix between past and present, it’s one of my favorite type of narrative in a book, it always makes me so curious to put all of the pieces together. But these three names…I mean, Kance, Khalad and Kalan?! I get that you were confused between them – I would be, too, with such similar names ahah.
Once again, lovely review 🙂
It’s weird that there is so much negativity surrounding the story. What’s the main complaint people have about it? Is it the pacing?
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I think so? At least, that’s the only thing I can remember right now ahah.
I ADORED this book! Just finished it yesterday. Little Tea was such an adorable, smart kid that it broke my heart when I thought of how much she would change by the time she turned seventeen. I am not sure how to explain this, but reading The Bone Witch is what I imagine listening to bards/story-tellers of the past would feel like: the narration is almost…whimsical. It definitely sounds like a person narrating her own life story.
I also LOVED the cultural references in the book. Every time I came across a word from my own language like cha-khana, sabzi polo, paloodeh (in Bengali it’s actually pronounced phaloodah but it’s the same thing) or haleem, I giggled out loud from sheer joy until my sister complained I was being weird :p
I was astonished by the amount of negative reviews this book has on Goodreads. It is such a well-written novel, but so under-rated.
I’m so glad reading it was such a good experience for you! I wasn’t aware that it was getting a ton of negative reviews. I don’t get it either. It’s such an immersive story with some amazing complex female characters. Can’t wait for the next one!
By the way I was wondering if you have read Outlander and have a review posted here? I am contemplating whether or not I should pick it up and I think I saw a post on your blog about it. Not quite sure, but if you’ve read it. let me know what you think!
That wasn’t me sorry! If I see any good reviews for it around I’ll let you know 🙂