Top critical review
An intensely frustrating book
Reviewed in the United States on July 14, 2014
Greg van Eekhout's CALIFORNIA BONES is a book of two opposite parts: wonderful world-building and premise in the first half of the book, complete letdown in the second half. Possibly minor spoilers to follow.
Daniel Blackland is a rogue osteomancer, his family destroyed by a tyrant, leaving him to a life of crime. This novel begins as a well-constructed heist in which Daniel has a strong personal stake. Had it continued along those lines, CALIFORNIA BONES would have been a very different - and perhaps much better novel. Unfortunately, though, van Eekhout takes a hard turn in another direction midway through the book, pointlessly derailing the story and rendering much of what came before moot. The novel never recovers, slogging toward the least thrilling resolution ever. One gets the idea that van Eekhout got behind on his deadlines and simply rushed an ending that feels sloppy and unconvincing. I can't really recommend it (especially at the price point of over $10 on Kindle), but I can't say it has no redeeming value, either.
I will say this for the book: It is the best alternate world fantasy novel featuring Walt Disney as a villain ever written.