I can’t say I’ve ever done a full-fledged book review here on the blog, but I felt this book deserved it. I’ve never read this author before, but I was immediately endeared to her upon reading her dedication to bowls of ramen.
The Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco, is a dark fantasy set in an incredibly rich magical world. I was really impressed by the world created here; it’s not the system of magic itself that’s impressive, but the world that supports it.
Tea (pronounced Tay-uh, though you don’t find that out until the latter half of the novel) is an asha— a woman who wields magic. She discovers this upon bringing her brother Fox back from the dead. Mykaela, another dark asha like Tea, brings her to her asha-ka where she is to be trained.
An asha is like a geisha– they sing, dance, play music, entertain… but also are trained in combat. Most asha draw elemental runes (this is how they use their magic), but Tea and Mykaela can only draw dark runes– their magic is death. They also must control the daeva, giant beats and resurrect and wreck havoc every few years.
An interesting element of this world is the heartglass– people literally wear their heart around the neck and exchange them in the bonds of love/marriage. Not everyone can read the mood-ring type color shifting of the heartglass. Most people are just shades of red, while magic-wielders like Tea’s sisters are purple, but asha have silver heartglass. A man with a silver heartglass would become a military Deathseeker, as asha are women only. This comes into play in the book with Tea’s friend Likh, who prefers to dance but whose silver heartglass would force him into the military.
What I really loved about this world was the attention to detail in adornment. Dress, accessories, and make-up play a pivotal role in magic.
Now, this world can also be confusing at times. With the deava mythology and the world’s unique terminology, it feels like you’re constantly playing catch-up on the history and culture.
The shifting point-of-views also were a bit problematic for me. The story is told interwoven with present-day Tea, who has been exiled. She is obviously changed from the Tea we meet in the storyline. While Tea tells the main tale from her perspective, a bard accounts the present by observing and interacting with Tea. I personally do not enjoy reading large italicized blocks of text that don’t directly relate to the story at hand. (This is worsened by the fact that the Kingfountain series that I’m also reading currently begins each chapter with italicized excerpts as well.) It is intriguing, though, because present Tea is so different… perhaps even evil. It’s alluring, as you’re enticed to know how Tea got to that point.
This intricate book is definitely worth reading; it’s dark and lovely and very different from a classic good vs. evil story. It’s due to come out in March!
I’m always looking for book recommendations, so leave me a comment with something to read next! Be sure to visit me on Goodreads too; I need more friends there!
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher, but all opinions are my own!