Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

30095464The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco

Published by: Sourcebooks Fire

Publication Date: March 7th 2017

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Fantasy 

Pages: 400 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★

*HUGE thanks to Sourcebooks Fire, Netgalley, & Rin Chupeco for the eGalley of The Bone Witch

 

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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.

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The Bone Witch is a beautifully dark woven tale filled with dark magic, runes, tradition, sisterhood, greed, loss, and betrayal. We meet our protagonist, young Tea who has just been discovered as a Necromancer. In the very first pages she raises a familiar back from the dead & is cast as a Bone Witch. Feared but very much needed by her kingdom to keep them safe & away from the Daeva (aka beasts), Bone Witches are still few and far between. Tea is mentored by one of the most powerful Bone Witches in the land far away from her family. We follow Tea as she studies to become an Asha by taking lessons in the arts, history, physical combat, meditation, etc. which gave me Geisha vibes all the way. Tea starts off as a novice in a Asha-Ka where she must earn for the house she lives in & climb her way up to being a well respected & highly sought out Asha. Her training is rigorous & through a network of sisters she is taught the art of entertaining very important nobles, politicians, and royals. Tea however, won’t be your average Asha since as a Bone Witch, her calling is the Dark. Bone Witches are the only asha that can kill Daeva whenever they resurrect & the time spans for resurrection are different for all Daeva. Tea sees the task that Bone Witches take on for what it truly is…a sacrifice. For every Daeva that is slaughtered, the Bone Witch is physically & mentally drained. Their lives are spent hunting & killing Daeva for a kingdom that sees them as lepers because they are able to raise the dead.

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Photo credit@MoonRaven NightShadow

characters-banner The main protagonist Tea is a Bone Witch who is discovering just how powerful she is among the few Bone Witches that are left. She is young and has to depend on her new found Sisters to show her the ropes & teach her how to control her power. I loved that Tea was hungry to learn everything she possibly could to further her ascension in the ranks. I’ve grown accustomed to meeting female protagonists in YA Fantasy that tend to only be about self or having these GY-NORMOUS (totally made this word up lol) egos…Tea is none of that. She is humble enough to remember the kitchen staff as she grows in rank, seeing her sneak them food because she remembered what it was like to go without, spoke to her character. I ABSOLUTELY love that Tea is a POC (person of color) because they are so rare in Fantasy (YA or Adult) & like many of my fellow blogger buddies have mentioned, if you can create a whole host of supernatural beings then it can’t be that far fetched to include POC’s in Fantasy. Tea is mentored by Lady Mykaela who is known as the best of the best & was the person to personally seek a young Tea out when she sensed her powers at work. Lady Mykaella’s story is also told in bits & pieces, we get a sense that she’s suffered heartbreak & carries a heavy burden. I enjoyed seeing this female bond play out positively on the pages. We also get introduced to some of the asha who play supporting characters & those who work within the village selling all of the things an asha needs from head to toe (clothing, hair, magical potions woven into clothing). Of these my faves were Polaire who also serves as a Sister to Tea & made me giggle with her brash no hair on the tounge comments, Rahim who custom designed all of the asha’s Hua’s always brought color to the page, Likh who worked in the special hair trinket store is a boy who wanted nothing more than to become an asha & dance all of the traditional dances. I loved that Likh felt comfortable enough in his own skin to go for what he wanted & stay true to himself. With an array of characters of all ranges, The Bone Witch gave me a new set of characters to love & worry about haha!

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Ok, so here’s where it gets a bit tricky! I am a lover of lush worlds and if done right, I don’t mind the slower pace or the attention to detail. That being said, I did feel that plot was sacrificed a bit in place of characters & world building. It isn’t until the very end that we come full circle with what led to Tea being in her current situation (no spoilers). I didn’t mind the slow pace at all because I truly can get lost in a world & lose track of time as a whole when the writing is as good as it is in The Bone Witch. I also feel that The Bone Witch makes for a great Adult Fantasy even if it is YA Fantasy. I say this because of the complex magic system, AMAZING world building, and fleshed out characters that suck you in. This isn’t a book you’ll read in one sitting, I actually gave it my Junior’s Strawberry Cheesecake treatment…that is I savored it for as long as possible. Each & every time I picked it up, I sunk into the nearest recliner and shut myself down to the real world. This is very descriptive writing & if you enjoyed Memoirs of a Geisha, then this is a must have! as a person who enjoys reading about other cultures, I enjoyed the Asian influences in this Fantasy setting. The story alternates between past & present. In between the chapters we are given brief accounts of Tea’s past in pages that are italicized, however they are being recounted in the present. Tea decided to call on an Asha whose specialty is that of a historian, to chronicle her side of the story. It is within the pages that are italicized, in between the chapters that we get Bard’s POV as he chronicles Tea’s stories. Being that this is book 1 in a series & since the author has hooked me in with her writing style, I know I will definitely  be picking up the next installment. I also feel that we will see the action we wanted to see in this 1st book, in the next one. Tea’s story is far from over, I am super curious as to what she has planned up her hua’s sleeves cuz THAT ending!!! smh I need more 🙂

My Bookish Peeps, those of you that have read The Bone Witch please drop your thoughts or links to your reviews down below. I’m curious to see how it fared with you all & do you plan on continuing with this series? If so….are you team Kance or Kalen? BAHA! I kid I kid! 😉

Review: How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

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How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
Series: How to Hang a Witch #1 (future books will be based on other descendants, not sure if the series name will remain the same)
Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Date of Publication: July 26th. 2016
Genres: YA/Fantasy
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★

 

Goodreads Partial Synopsis (full spoilery synopsis here):

Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

 

With the fall season come all of my favorites…hot cocoa, warm sweaters/scarves, fallen leaves, reds/Brown’s/creams/yellows, and last but not least…WITCHES! my favorite season is upon us & I decided I’d pick up How to Hang a Witch in anticipation of its arrival. To best describe HTHAW, I would say that it has some elements of both the CW’s Secret Circle & the 90’s cult classic “The Craft”. I picked up HTHAW after hearing that it was a Young Adult book loosely based on the Salem Witch Trials. The fact that the author Adriana Mather is a direct descendant of Cotton Mather, an influential person (not in a good way) in the trials, further motivated me to give this book a go. I’ve always been intrigued by Salem’s history & plan one day in the near future to visit the Salem Witch Museum in Salem, Massachusetts https://www.salemwitchmuseum.com/.

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Now, on to my review… 

We start off with our main protagonist Samantha Mather arriving in Salem with her stepmother Vivian, a decision made to be able to better cover her father’s hospital expenses. Sam’s dad is in a coma at the start of the story & it is clear that Sam and her dad Charles are very close. Relocating from New York to Salem, Sam isn’t feeling very optimistic about a new high school. Believing herself to be cursed because of all the accidents that have taken place around her, Sam is just trying to keep a low profile. Whelp! This may have worked in any other place that wasn’t Salem but as a direct descendant of Cotton Mather (just like our author), she doesn’t exactly receive the warmest of welcomes. In a town filled with the descendants of the original key players of the Salem Witch Trials, Sam is unfairly left to deal with the tension & animosity stemming from Cotton’s role in the tragic events. We get introduced to a group of high school students that go by the name “The Descendants” aptly named since they all are direct descendants of the original accused witches & townspeople. They were also all named after their descendants, we have Susannah, Alice, Mary, Lizzie, and John. They all dress in black & stick together in everything they do. The town itself takes its history very seriously and respect the descendants and their families. Salem is now all about witches, down to the sheriff’s cars that proudly display witches on their doors. The teachers honor the accused by assigning a yearly project to re-enact the trials. Sam seems to be outnumbered, everyone from the students, teachers, and librarian look at her & see only her ancestor Cotton Mather. Not exactly helping (but I loved!), was Sam’s take no ISH from nobody attitude. Not easily intimidated, Sam does seem to view the girls as dangerous after a series of “incidents” leave her shaken up.

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The Craft

At first I thought to myself, are these people really going to ostracize this teenage girl before giving her a chance? I kept reading & the accidents that happened around Sam in New York seemed to have followed her to Salem…. maybe there’s something legitimately wrong with Sam? I won’t give away the answer, but I will say that I loved the paranormal aspects of this book. I also really enjoyed the small town feel & how Sam a native New Yorker adjusted to the change of pace. As a fellow New Yorker, just like Sam I found myself wondering who I could & could not trust in this town. I loved that she & her stepmom moved in to her dad’s childhood home and the description of a grand old house. The house itself having many charms & secrets. Most of all I enjoyed the flashbacks to conversations between Sam & her dad during tough moments in her life. It was in these moments that we got a glimpse of Charles, the man in the coma. Sam would often think about her dad & what he would say to give her the courage to stand up to adversity.

The supporting cast of characters were small seeing as Sam didn’t really make any friends, but the standout character for me was Mrs. Meriwether. Sam’s neighbor who also happened to be her dad’s childhood best friend, lived alone next door with her son Jaxon who is the same age as Sam. I LOVED Mrs. Meriwether once I began to trust her & stopped thinking she was trying to poison people through her delicious baked goods haha! (Kudos to Ms. Mather for re-creating a town filled with distrust). No but seriously, the woman can bake! Every time there was a scene with her, she was baking in the kitchen all sorts of different recipes for her bake shop & I swear I could smell the pastries! Smh. Then there was her son Jaxon, who befriends Sam upon his mother’s request but quickly ends up falling for her. This is only made more innnnneresting by the introduction of a certain paranormal character. This character, I won’t say what he is…was my absolute FAVORITE character in the entire book.

Ok, so far I’ve only had good things to say about this book…why the 3-star rating? Some of you may ask. I cannot discuss the reason in too much detail for fear I may spoil the ending but simply put, Sam’s beginning felt very much like her ending—lonely & incomplete, even as the author is telling us otherwise…