Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco [Witchy Readathon book 1]

A Bard has been summoned to an isolated area filled with the skeletons of dead creatures. Drawn there by a dream, he discovers a girl–not older than seventeen. She is an asha, a powerful magic user. But she raises the dead bones around him to form daevas, dark creatures that are regularly slaughtered by asha to protect the people they threaten. As he observes the girl’s magic at work, she tells him her story.

Tea’s older sisters were magic users after receiving their heartrunes, filling the necklace hearts that everyone wears. But when Tea’s brother Fox dies in battle, Tea unwittingly draws a Dark rune and raises him from the dead. Lady Mykaela arrives and explains to her family that Tea is a Dark asha, only capable of utilizing the Dark runes. Tea travels as the apprentice of Lady Mykaela, eventually reaching the Willows where ashas are trained in various arts.


What is The Bone Witch about?

This book is about Tea’s ascent to power, and a glimpse of her life before an assumed descent into infamy. She tells the Bard, and thus the audience, that she was exiled to her new home of bones due to something powerful she accomplished. She also tells us she accomplished this because someone she loved was taken from her. This book sets up the power she had in her younger years, as well as introduces any number of characters that guided her path and that she loved.

Genre: Fantasy

With magical creatures, magic users, and magic runes being cast constantly, this book is firmly fantasy. However, it’s delightfully different from most fantasy–as I would expect from Rin Chupeco!

Tropes: Darkness and Bards

There’s both respect and fear for the Dark asha, or bone witches as some call them. Tea is chastised on a few occasions for her own prejudice against the Dark asha. Necromancy is of course a feared skill, and as such the Dark asha are a strange lot (and small one). The Bard that Tea summons is also very much his trope, but it an excellent way!

Plot: People really shouldn’t piss off necromancers

A fair amount of this book is set up for the subsequent series, which appears to focus on Tea’s rise to power and potential domination of the world. At least, that’s what’s implied to be the goal after this book. Because yeah, Tea is super powerful and definitely ready to take some people down.

The Good

Honestly I was blown away by this book. Rin Chupeco’s writing is the gift that just keeps giving. Tea is a compelling and delightful character because she’s messy, the world building is so intriguing, and I love the distinct influences on it. The idea of Dark asha versus all others was a really interesting one, as were some of the lines between tradition and stubbornness. I think just the right amount of the world was explained, and I do like exposition that comes as a way of teaching both the reader and the character so it doesn’t feel forced in. I also really love split narratives, like the one between Tea’s story as she experienced it and the Bard observing how she is now.

The Okay

There’s a lot left unsaid in the book, things that it seems as though the reader is meant to figure out but doesn’t have enough pieces to puzzle together. While I can appreciate a story that has surprising twists I don’t see coming, in the execution it felt more like a “oh you didn’t know?” kind of moment than a natural surprise.

Final Thoughts

Honestly, I’m hooked on Chupeco’s writing now. This fantasy world is complex and yet easy to navigate from Tea’s perspective. And what a wonderful narrator Tea is! I love the introduction of magic through her eyes, I love the way Tea chafes against traditions that no longer make sense. I think the world of the ashas is so interesting, and vivid! The descriptions are tantalizing and visual, the action is well paced and intense, and the characters are so well written. This is altogether a wonderful reading experience for the witchy lovers out there, and I am so excited to read the next one!

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By Catherine

I'm a lover of books, coffee, wine, and bees. Happy to join the ranks of book bloggers everywhere!

4 replies on “Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco [Witchy Readathon book 1]”

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