The Bone Witch: The Bone Witch, Book 1 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
In the captivating start to a new, darkly lyrical fantasy series, Tea can raise the dead, but resurrection comes at a price.
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.
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|Listening Length||12 hours and 8 minutes|
|Narrator||Emily Woo Zeller, Will Damron|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||March 07, 2017|
|Publisher||Blackstone Audio, Inc.|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #54,969 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#84 in Sword & Sorcery Fantasy for Teens
#131 in Dark Fantasy for Teens
#178 in Paranormal Fantasy for Teens
Reviewed in the United States on April 20, 2017
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So it’s become a thing where if a book I got a review copy of has been out for so long that it goes on sale for cheap, I buy it. Might be a print copy of the book in a bookstore, might be a Kindle book. It’s my apology for being such a failure of a reviewer, especially if the book is by and about marginalized people. The Bone Witch was one such case. The book left me underwhelmed, but I don’t regret buying it or reading it one little bit. I just wanted more from it.
The worldbuilding and plot are the novel’s strongest points by far. Following Tea from the time her powers as a dead-raising bone witch awaken at her brother’s funeral to when she becomes a full-fledged asha, Chupeco’s fantasy world unfolds naturally as Tea herself learns about the surprisingly superficial asha system while a maid and then apprentice in House Valerian, one of many asha collectives in The Willows, a district of the city of Ankyo. More powerful asha will fight, sure, but a surprising amount of an asha’s time is spent as an entertainer at nobles’ parties as an entertainer. Upon becoming an asha, they have to pay their House back all the money that was spent on them.
It sounds like a criticism of the novel, but the shallow superficiality of the system was actually one of the most interesting points of the worldbuilding. It’s such an obvious flaw that there’s simply no way it won’t come back up later. Since an older Tea is in exile and ready to raise some hell, perhaps she came to the same realizations. She’s fourteen when she’s an apprentice and seventeen as an exile, leaving a gap of three years where something drastically changed Tea.
Most of the novel focuses on Tea’s time as a fourteen-year-old asha apprentice, the process of becoming an asha, and the very slowly unfolding mystery of who is causing chaos within the city. Though all of it is interesting as Tea’s world unfolds itself before our eyes, the actual pacing of The Bone Witch is glacial. Most of the novel’s forward momentum comes not from the above-listed events but from interlude-esque sections in which an older, exiled Tea is telling her story to an unnamed bard. She slowly reveals her plans for war to him and (not unsurprisingly) freaks him out.
Though I don’t know the proper name for it, this literary device is so irritating. Another example: when you read the action-packed prologue to a 400-page book only for the novel to meander along uninterestingly until that action finally kicks in around page 390. It’s a teasing attempt to up the pacing of any slow-moving novel and it rarely works. Here, it’s just annoying. It’s clear something happened to change Tea after the end of her apprenticeship, but the novel doesn’t feature that event. We only get mentions of that big something and implications about it.
That massive gap between who she was in the past and who she was now, leaving readers with questions about what in the world happened, is simply too much for me. A guessing game is not what I wanted from this book. Though its sequel The Heart Forger is out now, I don’t have much interest in picking it up since its jacket copy implies it’s picking up and sticking with where the older Tea’s story left off. It’s worth reading for the brilliance of the worldbuilding, but The Bone Witch is ultimately a mixed bag.
Tea, a young girl of 12, accidentally raises her brother from the dead at his funeral. In this abrupt way she learns that she is a bone witch, a rare form of asha. She must learn to control her magic so it does not destroy her and goes away to school for training.
The description does not do this book justice. I was enraptured in this world, learning about the countries and the politics in place, the creatures that live there, and the different roles in their society. This first book goes through Tea's training to become an asha, starting at age 12 through about 15. Woven into the story, however, are snippets from the present where Tea is now 17, in completely different circumstances, and has become quite the bad ass.
I understand why some people could find this book a bit slow. There is not a ton of action going on until a lot closer to the end, but I don't think that means that it's lacking. The purpose hear was all about Tea's growth as a character as she grows up, where she started and how she got closer to where she is in the present, and the in depth world building that is necessary. It feels just like I would expect a first book in a series to feel when it starts out narrating a character's beginnings. There may not be much fighting or action, but that didn't make Tea's journey to be an asha feel any less important.
By the end, I was thoroughly invested in the character and excited for action packed journey that's clearly coming in the future. The ending finished on a satisfying note while still leaving me pumped and longing for the second book to come. All on its own, this book isn't exactly awe inspiring, but as a beginning to a series it is amazing. I was enormously pleased by the end of the book and cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel.
I would rate this book a 4.5 out of 5. I loved the world and the journey this book created in it's own right, and it was made only that much better by the great things it promises to come. 4 for the great read on it's own, with a potential to reach a 5 if the sequel holds up to its promise.
Top reviews from other countries
The world building is phenomenal, its intricate and detailed, beautiful, well thought out and has enough originality for me. If you literally wore a representation of your heart around your neck, would you give it away to someone?! Not sure I would!
This book clearly has a heavy Asian influence throughout the story and I loved that! The author is a Chinese Filipino, so that makes sense however the description of clothing and the Asha lifestyle sounded very much like the Geisha traditions of Japan, whereas the Daeva, I believe, comes from old Iranian languages ( Yes I googled that!) Additionally she has taken inspirations from Filipino Witch doctors for her Dark Asha. (I also googled that!)
The format really works for me. It starts set in Present time with a Bard meeting our Main character and she is going to relate her story to him, therefore the bulk of the story is actually flashbacks of her life. There is a present day narrative in between each chapter which worked so well. At the end of each narrative there tended to be a sentence that just forced you to read on and foreshadowed some really interesting things to come!!!
Characters- I think the author focused more on the world and history building than the individual characters, which I’m hoping comes out more in the sequels. It didn’t ruin my enjoyment of this book at all, but now that I think back on it I don’t have a lot to say about them. Additionally the romance is limited but it’s been set up nicely for more to happen in the sequels, which as Tea is only 12-15 in this book works fine for me!
Plot- some people have found it a little slow, because there’s a lot of world building and descriptions, I can see their point but personally I was never bored, because the things she was describing were so damn interesting. The ending was amazing (and makes me want to reread it now to see what I’d missed!)
I was gripped throughout, finishing this very quickly as I didn’t want to put it down. It’s not perfect but I’d easily read it again and ordered both the sequels before I had finished it. I think the negative are nit picky and depend on your preferences, i loved it so it gets 5 stars from me!
The problem with this book is that the second half turns into 'Memoirs of a Geisha' all of a sudden. It's like the author was re-reading it as she was going through the writing process and said, "Yes, I need more of THAT in my novel!" I mean, I like Memoirs of a Geisha, but when the plot of a book revolves around witches who have the power to raise monsters from the dead and kill them, you really don't need to waste half the novel with the main character learning how to dance and sing. The author also has a habit of introducing places that don't actually matter at all because we never see the places mentioned and they only affect the story very tangentially, so it just comes across like padding. Similarly, she throws in a lot of side characters who are extremely two-dimensional - I could sum up the majority of them with a couple of words at most and none of them were particularly memorable or interesting. I tolerated most of them, liked Kalen and hated Polaire. Tea herself is kind of hard to read about after a while, she's sympathetic initially but she quickly becomes rather headstrong and bratty, constantly complaining when things don't go her way and categorising people as good or bad based off her own personal opinions, though granted half the characters she talks to pretty much constantly tell her to shut up and stop being a silly little girl, while the others praise her for her magic.
The ending was ridiculous. I guessed the 'twist' on the final page pretty much from the first instant that the person the twist involves was introduced. I actually rolled my eyes over how predictable that was. And the second 'twist' was bad for the exact opposite reason - the Reader is given no proper context for it, so it comes off like the characters are showing off how clever they are because they knew things the reader had no way of knowing. The excerpts with Tea and the scribe also render much of Tea's backstory kind of pointless because we already know how it's going to work out.
Unfortunately, what irritated me about this book to start became full-blown annoyances by the end and so I won't be picking up the sequel.
See, the heroine, Tea, tells the story of how she became a witch - a bone witch, one with a stigma the other type of witches don't have - to a sort of bard, who not only listens to her, but also gets to witness her in action - resurrecting monsters.
So Tea accidentally resurrects her brother, who was killed by one of these monsters. That is the trigger for everything that would happen after: she must leave with another bone witch to apprentice and learn how to master her powers - which happen to be out of control and that's dangerous for everyone.
To be honest, while I did like the novel and all the characters, I felt that the entire book was this huge prologue - world building, things are explained, characters are introduced - because we don't really get much of Tea's journey, just the mere drop from the ocean.
Why? It's because of the ending that I say this. An ending that definitely had me adding books two and three to my TBR - I'm hoping to get to them, soon!
4 solid stars. Again, that ending!
The parallels between the asha and Geisha’s are an interesting element of the story. Women are considered entertainment for the men, and yet the asha are also revered at the same time. Tea finds it difficult to reconcile her inner turbulence with the dainty and effeminate skills her peers excel at.
She finds a home thanks to Lady Mykaela, who intends to train her as a dark asha, but first she is asked to follow all orders blindly and instead of exciting learning opportunities she becomes nothing more than a skivvy.
The ability to read a person via their heartglass is such an interesting concept. It leaves doors open for discrimination, judgements and exclusions. Mykaela can see the potential in Tea, but has no idea just how much power she has, and neither does Tea. Unfortunately the power also escapes on occasion, which is code for loss of control.
One of Tea’s lighter dark moments is raising her beloved brother from the dead, which binds them in a way they both find it hard to cope with, especially when he starts to defy the strange connection they have.
Throughout the story the reader is given a glimpse of what Tea becomes and is heading towards, and it isn’t pretty. Which event or betrayal turns her into the powerful bone witch with an axe to grind? The dark being intent on destroying those who have wronged her.
This was hands down one of my favourite reads of 2017. Chupeco is incredibly talented, has masses of potential, and deserves to be right up there with the big names in the Fantasy genre. This is YA, so I would really like to see the author let loose beyond the borders and restrictions of young adult.
For me, it could have elevated itself to a four star with just a bit more editing. There seemed to be increasingly poor dialogue, vernacular inconsistency in characters' voices and at least one plot inconsistency that verged on feeling like a cut and paste error.
It's an ok read for all that though I'd need quite some paucity of material to go back in for another helping.
May recommend if your not too fussy.