Review Wednesday: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (#1)

The Bone Witch #1 (trilogy)

In the captivating start to a new, darkly lyrical fantasy series for readers of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir, Tea can raise the dead, but resurrection comes at a price…Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise. If there’s anything I’ve learned from him in the years since, it’s that the dead hide truths as well as the living.

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.”

This is one of those books that I always wanted to read but never quite got around to it and after the hysteria went down after it’s release, it melted into the back burner.  I finally got around to it and while I enjoyed the vast majority of it, there are still pieces that are causing my footing to be less than sure.

“Then perhaps we should carve a world one day where the strength lies in who you are, rather than in what they expect you to be.”

1.  The characters.  For the most part, I really enjoyed the characters.  Tea, is obviously the main protagonist and we’re in her head for a vast majority of the book.  There is also a large supporting cast with the two maids she works with, her brother, Fox, Lady Mykaela, Mistress Parmina, Likh, and Prince Kance being the most prominent.  I do appreciate the slew of characters as, to me, it really fleshes out the world and more accurately portrays a whole life.  However, many of the characters were lacking that certain something that enables me to remember them past the first day.  I’m writing this review only a half an hour after finishing the book and already, some of the names of the supporting characters are falling away.  Conversely, the characters that are very rounded and well-done truly bring life to the story.  Tea especially is such an interesting character and her interactions with the other characters moved the story along well.

“Sometimes it is good to remind ourselves how bitterness tastes.”

2.  The plot.  Speaking of the story, this is the element that I am generally the most conflicted with.  On one hand, there’s this really great drive in the middle of the book that kept me reading.  The lulls in action are timed perfectly and there’s a very natural lift and fall.  The author chose to do a sort of frame story with this in that she started in the ‘future’ with the older Rin looking back on the younger one.  Between each chapter there was a bit of commentary from the older Rin as she told the story.  I’m still a little undecided about this mostly because of the ending.  Whenever an author uses this technique, it’s generally most effective if the younger and older versions meet at the end and the reader finally grasps the true implications of the choice (because of future actions that are happening/situations, etc) but for me, the connection missed.  Like their hands reached out but were off by a few inches so the baton clattered to the ground.  Still, the anticipation building up to the ending is fabulous.

“There is no greater strength than the ability to understand and accept your own flaws.”

3.  The concept and it’s execution.  This is the second most shaky spot for me.  I absolutely love the idea of this book and after about 200 pages, I got a good grasp on how it all worked.  At first, I wasn’t so thrilled with not understanding the whole magic thing (mostly how daeva (basically ‘monstrous’ beasts that resurrect and tromp about killing people) factored into everything) but later I came to the conclusion that I’m too accustomed to info dumps and by ‘living’ in the world, I got a better, working understanding of the whole situation and world.  However, going back to the ending, I felt like it was all lost on me.  As I said before, there was a missed handoff but I also felt a little left behind as to the significance of Tea’s plan.  I just didn’t put together how it actually would work and what it would solve.

“You think in the same way men drink, Tea,” my father once said, “far too much—under the delusion it is too little.”

4.  The romance (or lack thereof).  I just want to take a moment and appreciate the fact that I have barely anything to write for this section.  Like seriously, there is NO romance.  Of course there’s the mention of romance, but the characters that are involved in those relationships decide not to do anything about it because they have bigger things to be thinking about.  After reading so many books that preach the power of love and putting loved ones above all else, it was so refreshing to read about an MC and her associates that have bigger things to be worried about.  But again, the ending totally threw me through a loop (I’ll stop there because #spoilers).

“You can be the most powerful witch in the land, but you will always have a weakness, and that will always make you believe you have no power when someone exploits it. There is no greater strength than the ability to understand and accept your own flaws.”

5.  The writing.  Final section, I promise.  I couldn’t wrap up this review without summarizing what really bothered me about this whole book.  More than anything, I think the reason I was so slow on the uptake with the world and the actions within it is the writing.  Because the book spans a longer length of time and within that time there’s a lot of mundane actions, I think the author went a bit ham with the telling instead of investing more time in the scenes themselves.

“When people cut us, we are expected to do only two things: smile and bleed.”

The Final Verdict:
An abundance of telling over showing seeded confusion about the workings of the world and reached a culmination point at the end.  However, my love of the concept and the characters endears me to this series.
4 stars

Will I continue with the series?
Yes!  If for nothing else, to try and figure out what exactly is happening with that ending.

0 thoughts on “Review Wednesday: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (#1)”

  1. I'm so glad that I'm not the only one who got confused over the characters! I was listening to the audiobook, so I thought maybe that was part of the problem (lots of the names started with the same letters so I had a hard time keeping track of them all). But anyways, this was a lovely review and articulated a lot of the same thoughts I had in such a clear way.


  2. I have heard some mixed things about this one and ultimately I've decided it's not going to be one I am going to read. I am glad that this one worked for you though, and that you were able to enjoy some rounded characters! It's interesting that you said that the lulls in action worked well with the plot and were well placed! I love when an author can manage that well ^.^


  3. Yeah, honestly, while it's such a cool concept, it really missed on the send off which makes it really not all that worth the read. Personally, I actually appreciate it when the author lets me stop for a breath so I'm not *forced* to read the whole thing all in one go, you know? Like there's a way to breathe in the middle. Thanks for stopping by, Olivia!


  4. I'd seen loads of hype about this series so didn't want to rush into it on the back of that either. Now I think if I see a book exchange copy I would probably pick it up, but would be disappointed if I'd paid full price!


  5. I 100% support that! While I loved the world and the idea and the cover (have I mentioned I'm a cover snob??), I don't think I would ever buy this one. It's just one of those meh books that could have been great but just wasn't. Thanks for stopping by, Stephanie!


  6. I haven't read The Bone Witch, I've seen a lot of mixed reviews about it and it has make me a little hesitant to pick it up. After reading your review, I feel like I'm grasping a little better what I'd be going through and, I feel like not getting the concept for a little while might frustrate me a little more than I'd want it to be :/ thank you so much for sharing this review, this really helped me. I'm glad you found it overall enjoyable 😀


  7. That's pretty much what happened to me! I was loving everything, but I found myself getting irritated with the vagueness (not really necessarily vagueness but just… skipping over crucial information) of the magical element. I may end up reading the second one just to see if I have time. I'm glad my review helped you out, Marie, and thanks for stopping by!


  8. I'm usually not a big fan of stories that jump around different times. Like you said, it really has to be done right and nail that connection so that it makes sense why the book was written that way, so it's too bad it didn't quite hit the mark here. You def seem to have some mixed feelings about this book, but it sounds like you enjoyed more than you disliked at least 🙂


  9. Absolutely! Normally, I like them when done well, but too many times it's just too confusing. Yes, for sure, and maybe if I have time I'll read the sequel… it's just so conflicting but maybe the second one would be better. Thanks for stopping by, Kristen!


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