Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for giving me a free digital copy in exchange for an honest review!
Man, I was so excited for this book! It sounds awesome, right? I mean, a girl raises her brother from the dead? You’d think there’s be some epic action after all of that, but was there…? Nope.
Title: The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1)
Author: Rin Chupeco
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Expected release date: March 7, 2017
Length: 400 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, paranormal
Synopsis (from Goodreads): “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.”
I was incredibly disappointed with this book. I wanted to stop reading about 70% of the way through, but seriously, the only parts that kept me reading (and intrigued!) were the small chapters written in the present tense. It gave mystery to the book because we really wanted to know who the narrator was there, and while it was a surprise, it wasn’t enough to save the book.
However, I will give credit where it’s due: the world building was amazing albeit a little confusing at times. I didn’t realize until after I finish the book that there’s actually a small appendix in the back of the book listing the countries. There is also a map at the front, but reading an eARC, it’s a bit tedious to get to the map. Despite that, I loved the very distinct Asian influence in the book. The way Tea becomes a full-fledged asha, and the way particular tea houses patron ashas and pay for them to be trained, etc., reminded me a great deal of geishas. Now, I don’t know much about geishas outside of the few articles I’ve read. But the dancing and singing lessons Tea was required to take were offset by history lessons, lessons in healing, and combat training. The descriptions of the hua (outfits worn by the asha) along with the food and the culture of this fantasy world.
I also really liked the concept of heartglasses and how they were readable and changed color with a person’s mood. One of the few things that I wasn’t convinced of or had me confused as Tea’s relationship with the Prince. They had romantic feelings toward each other (I guess?) but it was very…mild, and it didn’t pull on my heartstrings or make me feel giddy. Overall, I was disappointed with that. They didn’t have a lot of scenes together for me to form a deep attachment to them and be convinced of their romance. As for Tea’s brother whom she raised from the dead… I also felt that lacked in certain areas. He becomes known as her “familiar,” and I can appreciate the connection they share but what other purpose did he have when Tea raised him from the dead?
In terms of characters, I thought many of them were only mildly developed. I really wanted to know more about Mistress Parmina’s past, especially if she was as famous as Tea thought she was. I liked Lady Mykaela, and other asha who became Tea’s “sisters.” I also really liked Likh, and his desire to break from the mold of society by dressing in a hua and dancing. It seems obvious that becoming an asha is restricted only to females, and while Likh knows that and the possible shame it would bring to his family, he surprises everyone by performing a well-known asha dance.
I really expected something fast-paced with a lot of action, but I didn’t get it. This book was incredibly slow and dull. Others might appreciate that, and sometimes I do, but not in this book. Granted, there are a variety of interesting characters, and I certainly didn’t see how the ending would unfold, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to save this book for me.