THE BONE WITCH
Series: The Bone Witch #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: March 7th 2017
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 dead hide truths as well as the living.
The Bone Witch has a gorgeous cover and a unique and interesting premise, but sadly does not live up to expectations. The world-building is confusing, the pace slow, and the timeline shifts between past and present in between every single chapter makes for a frustrating read. Add that to the fact that pretty much nothing happens in the whole book, this novel becomes a disappointment.
Rin Chupeco does set up a good and interesting introduction to her story: the prologue and the first chapter are engaging, hooking us right from the start. Her writing is very easy to follow, despite her love for describing what everyone is wearing in detail. Unfortunately, the excitement — and plot — ends after the first couple of chapters. Instead we are left with a novel that drags us along the main character’s daily life, turning this into a very boring reading experience.
The most disappointing thing about The Bone Witch is that it has a very promising beginning. It’s mysterious and engaging, and the first chapter is a great set up to what could have been an amazing story. The relationship between the main character, Tea, and her brother, Fox, has a lot of potential and is very interesting at times. But then the shifts in timeline come in.
All of the numbered chapters are about Tea, from ages 12-15 as she finds out about her gift and trains to be a bone witch. And in between every single one of those chapters there is a passage from Tea, as a 17 year old, as she talks to a Bard. She’s telling her own story, which most of the time involves her commenting on what just happened, or giving spoilers to what is going to happen in the next chapter. Not only does this make for a super boring read, but whenever something interesting starts happening, the timeline shifts so Tea can comment on it, and everything fizzles out.
It also doesn’t help that most characters sound the same. There is very little character development, even as we read about Tea growing up for three years. I think a great part of this might be attributed to a big chunk of the novel being mostly descriptions of clothes, rituals, and places. It leaves little space for characters to grow and develop, which hurts the story in the long run.
This also means the love triangle, which we get a warning about from Tea herself, falls flat on its face. It is extremely difficult to buy into it, since any kind of development or connection gets lost in between all of the descriptions and stories and tedious world-building.
One thing that does remain interesting throughout all of it are the heartsglass. The author has mentioned in her own GR review that “almost everyone literally wears their hearts around their necks.” That’s actually true, and the one part of the world-building that is intriguing to read about. Sadly, that has little to no impact on the actual plot.
In the end, The Bone Witch is a struggle to get through. Nothing happens, there is very little plot, the characters are underdeveloped, and the timeline shifts ruin all the excitement the story brings up.