The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Bone Witch is a YA fantasy novel written by Rin Chupeco. It is the first entry in a planned series.

Tea (whose name is not pronounced like the beverage) is a young girl living in a world surrounded by magic. Witches are valued for their power, but when Tea accidentally brings her brother back from the dead, she learns that there is a limit to society’s tolerance for witchcraft.

Bone witches are scorned, but they are also an integral component in keeping the world a safe place. Bone witches are a scarce commodity, so Tea is fortunate to find a mentor who can help her. Most of the book is devoted to Tea undergoing training to understand how to utilize her power.

There is a lot going on in The Bone Witch, but not nearly as much necromancy as one might expect from a book featuring a protagonist who is a necromancer. The situation is reminiscent of Westeros with numerous factions and plenty of political intrigue. Numerous characters are introduced, and keeping track of everyone can be difficult. There is an appendix at the end of the book, which will be very helpful for readers who have a physical copy of the book.

The plot moves slowly, despite the fact that Tea’s powers are so advanced that she moves through training at a faster rate than the other asha (witches). Chupeco focuses on world building rather than character development. This is not necessarily a negative; Chupeco presents vivid descriptions of clothing and food, and she is clearly a talented writer. Part of the reason for the slow pace might be due to the shifting perspective. The chapters alternate between the present day and the past. It’s clear that Something Big happened to Tea, but the details do not emerge until the end of the book. Chupeco uses this technique to create a sense of intrigue, and it worked. I kept reading because I needed to know how Tea ended up in her current predicament.

I would recommend The Bone Witch to fans of YA fantasy. If you’re looking for something fast-paced and full of action, you might feel restless while reading this book. It’s clear that Chupeco put a lot of work into Tea’s world, and ends the book on a tense note, making the reader anxious to find out how the conflict will be resolved in the next book.

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