The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco book review.

Lavish in detail, The Bone Witch weaves a tale of dark fantasy and necromancy where a young woman discovers she has the power to raise the dead.

THE BONE WITCH weaves a dark and opulent tale of magic and monsters. Rin Chupeco creates a world beset by dark beasts and kingdoms tottering on the verge of war. The Eight Kingdoms are filled with elemental magic, intrigue, and rich historical traditions. It is here readers meet the protagonist Tea, a young, untrained witch who discovers her abilities of necromancy after accidently raising her recently deceased brother from the dead.

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. I have not been a bone witch for very long, whatever the stories you’ve heard, but this was the first lesson I learned.
— Rin Chupeco, The Bone Witch

Known as Bone Witch, Tea is both feared and revered for her unique powers and finds herself thrust into the world of an Asha, learning to control her dark elemental magic. With war looming between the kingdoms and dark beasts rising up from the dead, Tea knows she must masters her skills while navigating courtly intrigue.  

Told from two intersecting threads, past and present, Chupeco, known for her tales based on Japanese myth, The Girl From the Well, weaves in rich details of courtly arts and her training as an Asha. Clothing, dancing, and weaponry are detailed as well as the various forms of the Asha and the magics they can perform.  At times the writing comes to a languid pace with all the attention to details, yet readers who persevere will be rewarded with the transformation of Tea’s character into something truly fierce and admirable. 

"The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer."

Magic, especial that of a Bone Witch, extracts a terrible price, and Chupeco creates a beautiful, if solemn, story, about transformation and sacrifice with Tea’s character. In the traditions of a high fantasy, the world with its demon beasts, magics, and elementals are all fantastically crafted and the ending ensures readers will want to read more with its twisty ending. 

“I understand now why people fear bone witches. Theirs is not the magic found in storybooks, slaying onyx-eyed dragons and rescuing grateful maidens from ivory towers. Theirs is not the magic made from smoke and mirrors, where the trap lies in the twitch of the hand and a trick of the eyes. Nor is theirs the magic that seeds runeberry fields, whose crops people harvest for potions and spells. This is death magic, complicated and exclusive and implacable, and from the start, I wielded it with ease.”

Though the languid pace and high attention to details hinder the story’s flow, I found this world and Tea fascinating. This is a read for those who enjoy an intimate narrative style, one revealing the internal struggle and journey, Tea's character goes through surrounded by a vivid world. I found myself setting this down after reading it in smaller portions but quick to pick it back up again - the writing is a lovely mix of haunting and lyrical and I find myself needing more of Tea’s story and anxious for the next installment.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
Series: The Bone Witch #1
On Sale Date: March 7, 2017
Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy / Wizards & Witches
Sourcebooks Fire, 432 pages
Source: Publisher
My Rating: 3.5/4 out of 5 Stars

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.