Source: Netgalley – I received this in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation and all opinions are my own.
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Series: The Bone Witch #1
Edition: eBook, 432 Pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
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.
The Bone Witch is the dark fantasy love child of Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy and Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It’s a story that is finely painted slow and deliberately with such vivid intricacies that certainly leave an impression.
One of the reasons I wanted to read The Bone Witch was because of how much I enjoyed Rin Chupeco’s writing style in The Girl from the Well. She is one of those talented people who can paint with words, creating an atmosphere that seems to take over the senses. The Bone Witch did not disappoint at all. The world Chupeco builds is rich with culture and conflict. The Asha are magic uses, divided into several different types, and are similar to that of the Geisha from our world. They are talented in the arts and serve as social butterflies, entertaining guests and provided income to their Houses. But they are also warriors of the highest caliber are integral to the protection of the country from those who try to attack using deva, horrendous monsters raised from the grave.
Tea is a dark-asha, or a Bone Witch. Bone witches are extremely rare and are unable to use elemental magic that comes naturally to other Asha, instead, they have the ability to raise the deva and to send them back to their graves. They are the key to protecting the realm, but they are also treated as if they are cursed. This book offers two timelines to read through simultaneously. One begins with Tea when she is a child and moves with her during her time learning to become a full fledge Asha, and the other begins when Tea has been isolated at the edges of the world and for some reason (not yet known) she has become an enemy of those she once held close. I personally loved seeing the Before and After at the same time, and had that drive to see what exactly caused Tea to change her loyalties. The entire answer isn’t one that is revealed in The Bone Witch, but it’s certainly a wonderful driving force to pick up the next book in the series. I found Tea enjoyable. She’s ambitious and eager to learn, and as she grows older she obtains a bit of fire in her that allows her to stand on her own during the toughest times. Her relationship with her brother Fox was another beautiful thing in this book. It’s rare that fantasy novels have such a strong familial bond actually shown on its pages instead of implied. Fox is amazingly supportive, even when he doesn’t agree with Tea’s path.
Overall I think The Bone Witch is a winner. It’s atmospheric and beautifully written, and as a fan of slow burn fantasy, this one was perfect. It has a gorgeous magic system and even goes as far as putting a bit of focus on the rigidity of gender roles. I have high hopes for The Heart Forger, the second novel, and I really want to see more of the social issues push forward and more conflict.