The Bone Witch has an amazing sounding premise, interesting writing, and semi-diverse characters. Unfortunately, it's a book that sounds better in summary than it proves to be in execution.
In the grip of sorrow, Tea accidentally raises her brother from the dead. Her newfound ability sends her into an apprenticeship to become a Bone Witch, or a Dark Asha.
Dark Asha generally serve to protect the kingdom from monsters called daeva, which periodically rise from the dead and wreak havoc. Bone Witches are rare, and so for the sake of the world's stability, Tea must study hard to harness a power within that she never knew she had.
This all sounds pretty promising, but reading through Tea's journey bored me to tears. I had to physically will myself to pick this up and it took me two months to finally finish it.
The story largely consists of walking you through every painstaking detail of Tea's apprenticeship over the course of two years.
I felt like it kept going in loops: "Tea's learning this now. Ok Tea's learning that again, but she's a little more advanced now. Tea has started learning this new thing here."
BUT WHEN IS SHE GONNA RAISE SOME MORE MONSTERS FROM THE DEAD?? Never is basically the answer.
It was just so repetitive & boring. This book is overstuffed with descriptions of Tea's life in training and severely lacking in compelling action scenes.
When we aren't following Tea's training schedule we're listening to her superiors make obscure references to other Kingdoms, to past wars, fallen heroes, and lurking threats.
Name drops everywhere and mentions of events that mostly had no impact on our present story line. I felt lost while wading through these history lessons, and largely apathetic about keeping it all straight.
The writing at times was beautiful, but just as often it was convoluted. Run-on sentences that carried on for half the page with poor word choices in some areas.
TOO. MUCH. DESCRIPTION.
If I knew anything about this book, I knew precisely what each character was wearing down to the individual stitches. The clothing and food details were overwhelmingly superfluous.
It got to the point where I just stopped trying to picture it. It was mentally exhausting.
Every so often I would find myself completely captivated by a sentence or two, but there wasn't enough good here to outweigh the bad.
I feel Rin Chupeco has a lot of potential, I could see her writing style morphing into something amazing with a bit more experience.
I appreciated that these characters were racially diverse. It's wonderful to see different cultural influences and an array of skin colors in our books.
But personality-wise I found almost every character incredibly dull and predictable.
I wanted desperately to like the relationship that bloomed between Tea and the brother that she raised from the dead, Fox. But a large portion of the interactions between characters felt forced.
I didn't buy Tea's friendships or her rivalries. I wasn't invested in anyone's cause. I don't even have a favorite character. That's how uninteresting they were.
At the end of the day, I feel like this story had potential but that it could use a lot more editing before publication. It's missing some vital pieces of characterization and doesn't deliver a compelling narrative.
***I received a copy of The Bone Witch from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Sourcefire Books and Rin Chupeco for this opportunity.***
Publication Date: March 7th, 2017