The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
The Bone Witch #1
Dark Fantasy | Witchcraft | Young Adult
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Released March 7th, 2017
Goodreads | Amazon
The young adult fantasy genre is oversaturated, but there’s always room for dark fantasy. The Bone Witch is just such a novel, following a young teenage girl named Tea after she accidentally raises her brother from the grave.
This series has been on my radar since it’s release in 2017, and I purchased a copy last year, but I just now got around to reading it. It’s an easy book to fly through and is engaging enough, but I finished it feeling far from satisfied.
Let’s not jump ahead. As I mentioned before, Tea raises her brother from the dead, which means she is a Bone Witch, aka a Dark Asha, a type of magic welder that is rare and feared by many people. Tea and her brother, who has become her “familiar,” leave their small village with the only other Dark Asha, Lady Mykaela.
Lady Mykaela takes Tea to a community full of other Ashas in order to receive magic training. She struggles through chores and strenuous challenges while fraternizing with the kingdom’s Prince Kance. By the end of the novel, Tea is faced with a difficult choice.
The book is told in dual timelines, one following Tea as she learns to become a Dark Asha, and the other told from a few years into the future when Tea has been banished and is alone on a dim beach.
I felt like this book has so much potential, but among the reasons that I could only give it 2.5 stars is that it was definitely written with the intention of ending it on a cliffhanger so that you would have to read the next book to learn anything. There was so much left unresolved, something that has always annoyed me. I understand that many books are planned out to be a series, but I still prefer that each book in a series should also be a whole story by itself.
The magic system was fascinating, and I’m looking forward to learning more about it in book two. Magic is done by drawing runes based on the elements. I also really enjoyed the aesthetics of the world itself. Another interesting aspect is that people wear their hearts around their necks, displaying their health and emotions. I’ve never encountered that in a book before and it was refreshing to read something new.
My main issues with the book are that it felt incredibly rushed in many areas and the characters were either cliche or boring. There was this slight romance that appeared to be taking place between Tea and Prince Kance, but at the same time, they’re rarely in the story together. There’s no actual relationship between them, it’s just hinted at. Due to this, their “relationship” feels forced and I found myself annoyed at it much of the time. I also saw hints of what will probably become a love triangle in future books, a trope that heavily turns me off.
There were large swaths of time missing from the novel. For example, at one point Tea and some of the other Asha leave town to fight a monster that’s been terrorizing people, but there’s nothing about their journey. At the end of one chapter, they’re deciding to go fight this battle, and then at the beginning of the next, they’re there. I wish there had been more extended scenes so that the timeline of the novel would have flowed better.
I also would have appreciated more necromancy. There were only a few scenes in the book displaying Tea performing her Dark Asha skills, although I imagine there will be more of her magic in the rest of the series.
One of the things that kept me reading this book was Rin Chupeco’s writing. This is the first book I’ve read of hers, and she definitely has a way with words. I enjoyed her descriptions and tone, and even if I end up not carrying on with this series after the second book, I would eagerly read other books written by her.
Despite the problems I encountered with the novel, I’ll still be reading book two. I’m interested enough in the story, magic system, and Tea to want to see where everything ends up next. I’d recommend only reading this book if you’re willing to commit to reading the series since this book can definitely not be read as a standalone. It’s an imperfect but enjoyable ride with a lot of potential.