Review: THE BONE WITCH SERIES by Rin Chupeco
Dark Young Adult Fantasy
There is a minor spoiler about the bury your gays trope in this review.
Rated: 5 stars across the board. Each book is so damned good.
I’m breaking my standard review format and doing all three of these as a series, basically because I read them back to back in a gluttonous feast of literary enjoyment!
I saw some chatter about The Bone Witch, book one, when it first came out, but YA books historically don’t move me. I think it’s because I never had anything resembling a decent childhood, so I can rarely connect with the characters. I just sorta sighed and figured it wasn’t for me. While really wishing it was because gosh it sounded good.
When I saw it at the library a week or so ago, I grabbed it, thinking I’d read it for my eldest, who is a reluctant reader. (For someone who doesn’t like YA much, I read an awful lot of it in order to help her find books she WILL love.)
My gods did this series ever suck me in and take over my life. I tore through book one, then immediately bought book two (even though I’d put it on hold at the library, because I didn’t want to wait ’til the next day to pick it up!!). I also lucked out in that the third book was dropping on March 5th, so I preordered that one too.
These books are THAT good. I don’t buy many books because I can’t afford it, these are well worth the cost to me though.
For me to enjoy a YA book/series it really has to be so very dark that adults with my kind of taste in fantasy will enjoy it regardless of the age of the protagonists.
The Bone Witch series delivers on everything I love in fantasy. It’s dark, it’s gothic, the characters are well-meaning but oh man, they will do anything they have to in order to protect the people they love. Best about this series? The entire cast is diverse. I loved that so much!
The things I loved about this series are hard to enumerate, to be honest, because there’s just so MANY.
I love the main character, Tea (pronounced Te-uh), she’s an anti-heroine, someone who wants to do good, but because of her skills, powers, personality and what the world throws at her… well… the good she does and the path she walks tends to be littered with the wrong actions for the right reasons. And maybe more than a few bodies. PERFECT.
Tea is a necromancer, to put it bluntly, but Chupeco has taken that trope, shoved it in a bag and shaken it up so much that it’s new, fresh and enchanting. I’ve never seen quite this take on necromantic powers before and it was just wonderful to sink myself into a story that felt so new.
The setting! The costumes! The world! The mythology! The representation! The magic! The relationships! The mystery! I legitimately can’t find anything I hated about these books, and I’m a picky damned reader so can usually find something I’d improve on.
I loved that, most of all, in the end, this series is about love. Not like a romance is about love, though there is a romance in the series (and such a good one I had to squee about it!). This series is more about the different kinds of love one person can experience. From platonic to sibling to romantic, to the love a student can hold for a mentor… all the kinds of loves. The story is also about the kinds of things a person can be driven to in order to protect their loves. It’s also about letting go. There won’t be more with the main characters after this trilogy. This is a finished trilogy but that’s absolutely okay with how everything ended.
The side characters were so well fleshed out and diverse! I loved them all. I was so thrilled to find that there’s trans rep for a side character in this (a trans girl) and there’s also positive fat rep for a side character, there’s positive rep of gay side characters and bisexual ones. The queer rep was done *exactly* right for an author who I suspect may not be queer herself. The main character wasn’t, her relationships and interests are m/f, but the side characters SHOWED us queer folk, and best yet? None of us died! No bury your gays crap here. Right up ’til the end of the last book I was *terrified* Chupeco was going to break my heart and one of my queer-babies was gonna die. But she held the pace, and my heart, sacred. No queers died here.
The series is also safe for my sex-repulsed ace readers by the way, since I know there’s some of you out there. There is on page kissing, references to sleeping in the same bed (which I found beautifully refreshing to see in YA, more please!) but no on page nooky to drive you away from reading what is probably going to go down as one of my absolute favorite fantasy series of all time.
Something else I really loved about these? It’s the way they were written. The current time vs the past time format of two different characters PoV really worked. Something that could’ve made the series flop worked wonderfully under Chupeco’s masterful pen.
I’ll be buying this series in hardcover (Even though I already bought them in ecopy) just so I can have them on my shelf.
The number of books I do that for these days is minuscule because I’m out of space!
As I was telling a twitter pal recently, these books are some of the quiet ones that you don’t hear all that much about. They don’t make a gargantuan splash, but oh man do they deliver in all the best of ways. I would truly love to see these as a movie on the big screen. No more Harry Potter crap please, develop these instead!
I did catch several editorial oopsies in the first book, (my day job is as a fiction editor) but it wasn’t enough to really throw me out of the story too badly. Books two and three were much better edited and I only caught a couple of glitches.
Hie thee hence to where you get books and get these NOW so I can talk to more people about them! 🙂
CONTENT WARNINGS: There is one section of parental abuse (both emotional and physical) in book two of a queer son by a parent BECAUSE the son is queer. It sorta smacked me in the face, I feel it was necessary to explain a bit of character development, and at just three lines it was something I feel is easy to accept (even though I’ve been rejected by my mother for being queer) IF you know it’s coming. But heads up that it is there.
Other CWs: Abuse, violence, blood and gore (battle scenes), animal/companion animal death (it’s not as bad as it sounds because the critters are technically immortal, they come back) suicidal ideation, kidnapping/imprisonment, death/dying, blood, depiction of mental illness due to spells/poisoning, discriminatory attitudes (towards Tea’s profession and skills), food (mention of)
Take a look at these gorgeous covers! I can’t wait to have them on my shelf. Buy links are under each book:)
The Bone Witch: Book 1
A Publishers Weekly Most Anticipated Young Adult Book of Spring 2017!
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.
Memoirs of a Geisha meets The Name of the Wind in this brilliant new fantasy series by Rin Chupeco!
The Heart Forger: Book 2
In The Bone Witch, Tea mastered resurrection—now she’s after revenge…
No one knows death like Tea. A bone witch who can resurrect the dead, she has the power to take life…and return it. And she is done with her self-imposed exile. Her heart is set on vengeance, and she now possesses all she needs to command the mighty daeva. With the help of these terrifying beasts, she can finally enact revenge against the royals who wronged her—and took the life of her one true love.
But there are those who plot against her, those who would use Tea’s dark power for their own nefarious ends. Because you can’t kill someone who can never die…
War is brewing among the kingdoms, and when dark magic is at play, no one is safe.
ShadowGlass: Book 3
The dramatic finale to The Bone Witch series! Tea’s dark magic eats away at her, but she must save the one she loves most, even while her life—and the kingdoms—are on the brink of destruction.
In the Eight Kingdoms, none have greater strength or influence than the asha, who hold elemental magic. But only a bone witch has the power to raise the dead. Tea has used this dark magic to breathe life into those she has loved and lost…and those who would join her army against the deceitful royals. But Tea’s quest to conjure a shadowglass, to achieve immortality for the one person she loves most in the world, threatens to consume her.
Tea’s heartsglass only grows darker with each new betrayal. Her work with the monstrous azi, her thirst for retribution, her desire to unmask the Faceless—they all feed the darkrot that is gradually consuming her heartsglass. She is haunted by blackouts and strange visions, and when she wakes with blood on her hands, Tea must answer to a power greater than the elder asha or even her conscience. Tea’s life—and the fate of the kingdoms—hangs in the balance.
“Chupeco delights. Exceptionally written from beginning to end.” —Buzzfeed on The Bone Witch