March 07, 2017
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The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.
Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.
Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.
The Bone Witch does a fantastic job combining pieces reminiscent of folklore, mythology and history of other cultures (from ancient Greece to Japan to the Middle East) with things wholly original to create its world. It is just familiar enough to help you imagine things but exciting because so much is new.
The asha in this book made me think a bit of geisha who could also do magic and who were skilled in combat, as well; I loved it. The use of rune magic, of glamours and spells, and the different things an asha was required to learn, along with the dangers they faced made for a thrilling, magical world. I liked, too, that the magic wasn't used for technology. That it was all so, literally, elemental really fit with and further solidified the feeling, the ambiance of Tea's world.
How the story is told, with a 'now,' that starts the novel and is then located between chapters, but takes place after the main narrative really builds the intrigue. It lets you in - just barely - on enough that you want to, need to know how things got to that point, while leaving out specifics and keeping you guessing. It really makes you want to get to the end and find out how that beginning came to be!
That said, there are still some things I do not know or do not quite understand. Some was, likely, because readers haven't been given that information, yet but some may be things I didn't quite understand all of. Nonetheless, I am really eager to see what happens in the next book. A lot happens to Tea in this first book: from that young girl, at home, mourning her brother to the young woman, with the beast on the beach who begins telling that young girl's story. Through her we not only learn about the asha, the different kingdoms, the beliefs and magic of a world with witches and rune magic, but a lot about Tea, as well.
I want to finish finding out how she became the one commanding a daeva on the beach and what, all of what, lead her there; and, I absolutely want to know what she'll do next - and what it will mean.
digital copy received for review, from publisher, via NetGalley