Title: The Bone Witch
Author: Rin Chupeco
Disclaimer: I received a free copy via Netgalley in exchange for review purposes.
Tea lives in a world where witches are commonplace. Tea, however, is different from the witches in her family, which was showcased after her brother died when she raised him from the dead. Tea’s gift relates to the dead – to necromancy. She is a Bone Witch. The most feared but important witches in the kingdom. However, Tea needs to control and hone her gifts which means she has to leave her home and train to become an asha under the watchful eye of an older and more experienced witch, Lady Mykaela. However, while in the city, she learns that the kingdom is on the brink of war with an enemy called The Faceless and everyone she has ever cared about are in danger.
The Bone Witch is a slow-paced, but an atmospheric, original, and dark high fantasy which is PERFECT for fans of witches and magic. As I mentioned, it was slow paced at times, but it had such vivid and rich world-building that made up for it – full of culture, folklore and mythology which is a breath of fresh air for fantasy.
In The Bone Witch, people wear their hearts around their necks, they are called heart glass. When their heart glass turns silver, they are deemed to be magical and, if they are women, they are trained to become asha. Each asha can draw different runes which align with different elements. Tea is a Bone Witch because she can raise the dead and she deals with dark magic. Asha are trained to become skilled warriors but are also trained to become entertainers and refined women. They learn to dance, sing, play instruments, etc. So if you want a fantasy with kick-ass women who are also feminine, then The Bone Witch is for you.
In terms of characters, I loved Tea. She isn’t your typical protagonist and she isn’t considered to be the hero of the story as she’s the villain in many people’s eyes. The Bone Witch was told in two alternative timelines, one where Tea was finding out about her magic and training to hone it, and one where she is a powerful witch feared and ostracised due to something she did, which we have yet to find out. I loved this, where you slowly are starting to learn how Tea became the witch, and the dark asha, that everyone fears. But really, she is just finding a way to try and save her people but because she has fell too far into dark magic, she’s deemed too dangerous and branded the enemy. She’s the anti-hero protagonist I’ve been waiting for and what we need more of in YA, especially fantasy.
Fox is also a great character, Tea’s brother, and I really loved their sibling bond. Which was made even more pronounced because she raised him from the dead so they are now connected in more ways than just being brother and sister I loved the protectiveness and the love the two had for each other. There were also hints of a romance, but it wasn’t at the forefront of the story.
Overall, a unique, atmospheric, dark and magical fantasy that I highly recommend.