The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco tells the story of Tea, a girl who discovers she is a witch and raises her brother from dead. Not specifically in that order.
I saw the cover of The Bone Witch and felt like it was the beginning of a ‘love at first sight’ story between me and this book. Unfortunately, love at first sight is not a real thing outside Disney movies. Not even love between humans and books.
After Tea resurrects her brother, she must travel with an old witch to start her magic lessons, discover her true powers, join the fight against giant undead beasts and learn how to be a geisha. Not in that specific order, either.
This book had a lot of potential but I feel like I went through a lot of boring stuff and got very little rewards at the end. Should I say it wasn’t my cup of Tea? * I still liked the idea of this book and I’m kind of interested in the sequel. (It can’t be more boring!).
*I know I shouldn’t, that’s a terrible pun.
- It has necromancy! I love it when I get to see the dark side of magic. In this book there are dark witches that use dark magic to raise the dead and control demonic beasts. And that’s completely cool. Tea, the main witch, is what they call a ‘dark asha’ and she brings her deceased brother back to life, to the discomfort of her neighbors, who hate to live with an undead guy among them. There are also dark beasts that come to life every few years, no matter how many times they kill them.
- The narrator à la Name of the Wind. The story starts with a bard speaking with a seventeen year old witch named Tea, who has the reputation of being a powerful and dangerous dark asha. The bard wishes to know more about Tea’s past so she starts telling her story. Then the novel changes and the narrator is a little girl named Tea, who is just discovering that she has magic powers. So, just like in The Name of the Wind, the book is about a powerful and famous witch talking about her past and the events that put her where she is, while the ‘present’ plot progresses slowly while she speaks.
- The world-building. I feel like this is a world I could revisit and just wander around it. I liked that it has its own traditions, customs, mythology and even some particular prejudices (and people who fight them). The story also uses magic in some unique ways, like pouring people’s hearts inside necklaces, resurrecting monsters and crafting magic clothes.
- The special snowflake syndrome. Tea is a very special witch (for example, look at her name). She has the ability to use necromancy to raise the dead, something that a very small number of witches can do, and she happens to be really powerful (she’s just born with it). Tea is also humble, brave, kind-hearted and naive, all the things that a chosen one in a Young Adult novel always is.
- The witches are literally geisha. In some chapters I honestly felt like I was re-reading Memoirs of a Geisha. The protagonist, Tea, goes to dancing and singing lessons and attends parties to entertain guests. She also has to pour the drinks at those parties, wear elaborate kimonos (or dresses called ‘huas’) and play musical instruments. This is supposedly part of her witch training because a witch must be well-versed in current affairs and politics. (And apparently the only way to achieve that is going to parties every night). Of course, apart from the art lessons witches also attend fighting lessons, and some of them even fight in the one fight on this book…They also learn how to draw runes to use magic but most geisha-witches only use their magic to put on makeup and enchant their hair accessories. I just couldn’t understand WHY THESE POWERFUL WITCHES HAD TO BECOME GEISHA? Where’s the connection between fighting with magical powers and entertaining guests with beautiful dances?
- This book is a set-up for the sequel. I could have accepted the geisha-esque witches if the rest of the book had more action and magic, and not just a girl going to the geisha school of witches. I spent MONTHS picking it and dropping it again because I felt like nothing ever happened. About 70% of the book is about Tea training to be a good entertainer and putting on beautiful dresses. And these dresses came with descriptions that also slowed the pace because they were so detailed! From the color and texture of the fabric, the embroidered patterns and the accompanying hair combs…(*yawns*). (But Tea got to do magic a couple of times and that was really cool). Also, some characters felt like they were going to be important but never did anything so I’m guessing they will do things in the next book.
- You are looking for a slow-paced and colorful magical story.
- You like Memoirs of a Geisha.
- You want to read about geisha potentially fighting against giant monsters
- You appreciate pretty clothes.
- You don’t mind waiting for the sequel to get to the action.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review. Expected publication: March 7th 2017