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.
It was true that I was born at the height of an eclipse, when the sky closed its only moon eye too wink back at the world, like my arrival was a private joke between old friends. Or perhaps the moon read my fate in the stars and hid, unwilling to bear witness to my birth. It is the kind of cataclysm people associate with bone witches. But surely normal children have been born under this cover of night, when the light refused to shine, and went on live perfectly normal lives?
The Bone Witch is set in a world where people wear their hearts around their neck. It is splendid, breathtaking, and uncharted. I love the fresh folklore and organic mythology Chupeco plaited.
The book is separated by two alternating lenses. The first took place in the past where the narrator recounts how a small girl from a quaint village becomes an enigmatic asha. The second took place in the present where the narrator met an exiled asha in the Sea of Skulls, who seems to be hiding dark secrets in the slit of her dress.
We have a main character named Tea, who accidentally resurrected her dead brother. It came as a surprise to her and her family. She didn’t know she has a tremendous amount of power. She’s a dark asha, a witch, a spellbinder. And her kind is the strongest of them all. The people in her village doesn’t know how to hone her skills except for the powerful asha, Lady Mykaela, who serves the Kingdom. In order to be her apprentice, Tea had to move away in a faraway territory.
What I loved about this book is the worldbuilding, and the mythology that is attached to it. There’s influences of Zoroastrianism. I’m unfamiliar with the folklore and that’s one of the reasons why I loved it. I love learning new things. I also love the subtleties and politics. I like it when fantasy books gently infuse sexism, racism, classism into their plot. I don’t believe that privilege and social ranks will never matter in any setting, whether it’s fantasy or contemporary.
Somethings you need to know about this exquisite story:
Firstly, we have a lovely boy that has a silverglass that wants to become an asha, but couldn’t be because it’s only restricted for girls. It stems from the toxic masculinity their culture upholds to.
Secondly, despite being a sword wielding and a weaver of magic, asha must abide to their traditions. Most of them undergo training to make them more refined and skilled at standards that are usually considered feminine, such as singing, dancing, mastering the language of flowers, and more. Because even though they’re powerful within their own, they know they must learn how to coax a patronizing man in order to put him in his place. That’s a power.
Thirdly, we have a girl who is the last thread of dark ashas and she’s reinventing a way to save her kind.
Fourthly, we have an apprentice of the forger of hearts, who has so much to give.
Fifthly, we have a prince who is kind, but seems clueless, and a duke who is overly protective with the said brother.
Sixthly, we have an undead brother who has an unyielding bond with his sister that resurrected him.
Lastly, we have four witch-sisters whose bond has been fortified by time.
This book is a magical ride for me from page one to the last. I can’t wait to read the sequel. There’s countless of unresolved thread needed to be answered.
Review also posted at Goodreads and Amazon.