Review of “The Bone Witch” by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

A review by Amanda.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tea (pronounced Tey-uh) is only twelve when she discovers something that will change her life forever – she is a bone witch, an asha, and she can raise the dead. Her beloved older brother, Fox, is killed fighting against the army of the False Prince, and Tea’s unexpected ability comes to light when she resurrects him in her grief. Luckily for Tea, a highly sought-after mentor senses her power and comes to take her to the asha-ka, a community built specifically for training asha. The process of becoming a full-fledged Dark asha is long and arduous, but necessary for one with her power. Tea will meet a variety of people, both friends and foes, and deal with prejudices; jealousies; catastrophes; and the uncertainty of blossoming romance, along with attacks from the Faceless Ones in the False Prince’s army.

The story begins in the present, with the reader meeting Tea through the eyes of a Bard. He has been drawn to her remote and dangerous location by his dreams, and stays to learn the truth behind her infamy. Most of the story is told from Tea’s perspective as she tells her tale to the Bard. It flashes back to the present, and the Bard’s point of view, in between chapters. This provides the reader with additional information regarding Tea’s journey and adds a layer of emotional depth as we keep reading to discover how and why she ends up where she is.

The Bone Witch is an enthralling tale, with a full cast of richly developed characters. Rin Chupeco does a wonderful job of including enough details to paint a gorgeous picture for the readers without getting bogged down with minutiae. The settings, fashion, and languages are predominantly influenced by a combination of Middle Eastern and Asian cultures. The characters are diverse, well-defined individuals with a balance of strengths and weaknesses. Tea is not a damsel in distress, and often saves the day, while making mistakes and misbehaving as any teenager might in similar circumstances. The physical descriptions of the characters are minimal in comparison to the way the author describes each hua, the traditional dress of the asha.

Tea is remarkably easy to relate to. She is petty, defiant, impatient, and overconfident at times, but she is also intelligent, compassionate, graceful, and impassioned. She has the capacity to save the world or destroy it, and no one knows which path she’ll take. Her supporting cast is full of people just as unique and imperfect as she is, and it is easy to love or hate them as Tea does. Tea succumbs to infatuation without it overwhelming her personality. Romance plays an important role in the plot, but is not the driving force. Readers will find themselves invested in the characters as individuals, not defined solely by their romantic relationships.

Fans of Sarah J Maas’s Throne of Glass series, Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart series (although this book is decidedly more PG), and Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy may enjoy this book.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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