ARC Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

30095464The Bone Witch
Author: Rin Chupeco
Series: The Bone Witch #1
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

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.


Thank you Sourcebooks for the review copy!

While I can’t say that The Bone Witch was the most captivating start as the first book of a trilogy, it did lay a solid foundation on what readers will expect in the sequel. In fact, I really expect that the next two books will be full of twists and action, even though we only got to see tidbits of them in this one. While The Bone Witch was incredibly slow in plot and progression – after all, it is following Tea’s journey of being a Dark asha in the course of a couple of years – the characterization and set-up of the world does more than enough to appeal to readers, despite the pace. I highly urge high fantasy readers to give this one a try, not only because of the gorgeous, dark world that Chupeco paints, but also because the ending of this one hints to more to come in the upcoming books.

The story starts with Tea, the main character, “accidentally” resurrecting her dead brother Fox in her small village. Through a whirlwind of activity, she ends up thrust into the world of asha, people gifted with magic that serve the nation. Looking back, it kind of reminds me like the Grisha trilogy, but with much less drama and much more introspective narrative of a girl just wanting to belong in a world she doesn’t exactly fit in with. Tea is among the few bone witches, who practice necromancy in contrast to the fires and winds of the other asha. She’s dangerous, but smart and strong-willed, lending to a character that isn’t afraid to fight for what she believes in.

“Bone witches were not a respectable trade. They said bone witches gave sleeping sicknesses to innocent princesses with the prick of a finger, and they said bone witches ate the hearts of children who strayed too far into forests.”

The narrative starts off with Tea talking to an unsuspecting traveler, exiled by herself with only bones to keep her company. The narrator is wary but in awe of Tea, who went against the system for a yet unknown reason. The chapters themselves switch to a first person POV from Tea as she weaves through the training of asha. Not only are they magic-wielders, but they are taught to entertain visitors in the arts of music and dancing. Not only do they sing, play instruments and dance, but they also know history and politics and how to heal. Tea has a grueling education that in time makes her question more and more, “What is the truth?”, all the while fighting against the traditions of old.

“Asha means two things in old Runic. The first is ‘truth’; the second, ‘spellbinder.’ That is what we must do – we bind the magic and force it to do as we command.”


I admit, reading this book took a lot out of me. I had a hard time getting into it, and I stopped and picked it up again twice – rereading the beginning twice, actually – to finish it in one go. I’d say I became fully invested around the 40% mark, as I got used to the narrative and slow pace. However, I do think that the pacing is worth the immense character development Tea undergoes, as well as the way her relationship develops between other characters. I especially adored the supportive love she has with her brother, Fox, who is now her familiar as a bone witch. Her interactions with her sister Dark asha were also really awesome as they sought to teach as much as they could toward her, while Tea stood up for them and tried to protect them, and vice versa. There are hidden animosities in the world of asha, small acts of rebellion, and innovative thinking that gets Tea into trouble a couple of times. There is a small dose of romance that hints at becoming a love triangle, but I honestly have no idea what’s going on with this front. It moves so slow, so I’m really not that invested in it… yet. And despite these sprinklings of plot, much of the length of the book comes from Tea’s grueling training as an asha and descriptions of the vast world, full of color and magic.

“‘Then perhaps we should carve a world one day where the strength lies in who you are are rather than in what they expect you to be.’”

Rather than leaving a reader satisfied at the end, The Bone Witch ultimately leaves readers wanting more. There’s an unexpected twist as Tea recounts in a very vague way what happened to her and how she’s planning to retaliate. I saw on the author’s website that this book is the first of three, so we still have a lot to look forward to. I thought this book has a very strong foundation and is told through a unique narrative that, while although not immediately captivating, will draw readers in who want to see immense character development and growth. It’s light on a lot of things: romance, action, drama, and more. However, this was only the start of Tea’s journey and eventual exile, and I for one can’t wait to hear the rest of the story in the sequel.


30 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

  1. I’m reading this at the moment, and really enjoying. I think it’s a little easier on audio with the slow pace–I can do something else to keep me busy while I read. But I love the texture of the writing and the world and Tea seems like an awesome protagonist. Thanks for the review!

      1. I have so many ARCs for #ARCAugust, but you and Ceillie, are totally hyping this. 😛 So mean!

        By the way, did you see the One Line Wednesday that the author tweeted today? A line from the second book. You might be interested.

  2. I was curious about this one, but decided not to read it right away because it’s a series. I tend to really struggle with books with slow-pacing, and I think this is one that would probably frustrate me and I’d DNF. But I can also do these sorts of book on audio. So, I’ll have to check if it’s available on audiobook once the whole series is out. I’m glad you found a strong character-driven book once you came back to the book, Aila.

  3. I have been waiting to read it since the blurb sounded good.May be I will pick up the audiobok if it’s a bit slow.Great review, Aila ❤

  4. The Bone Witch sounds like a truly interesting read, and I’m glad you enjoyed it! I love a good and well developed world, especially if there’s a promise of more to see in later books. I hope the second book lives up to your expectations!

  5. I am really excited to read this book. I love the cover but if you said it’s on of slow in the beginning, that’s a bad sign for me since I’m more of a plot driven reader. Great review!

  6. I never really gave The Bone Witch much thought until now. I can definitely appreciate a book that sets the scene for things to come. I always find that the first book in most fantasy series are more about establishing the world and characters so that we can get to the nitty gritty stuff in the next installments. I just hope that the romance doesn’t turn into a love triangle situation.

    1. I really hope so too with the love triangle Lois. :\ Hopefully it’s much less drama and angst than I expect because it was super light in this one, in any case. But yes, the set-up was rather magnificent and I’m excited for the events to come!

  7. I’m not really a huge fan of books that are slow with plot and story progression (as I’ve seen a lot of reviewers saying about this one), but this just sounds like such a beautifully told story that I might be able to put those things aside. I bought a copy of this on Kindle when it was on sale, but haven’t had a chance to read it yet. I love how you pointed out that this book will leave readers wanting more, because I sure do love a book that gets me hooked on the series. Great review, and thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  8. This sounds like such a great story! I’m definitely going to give it a try – maybe around Halloween time. xD Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ❤

  9. I don’t know… I have heard so many mixed things about this novel. I think it makes sense for this one to be a bit slow and heavy on the world building because it’s the first in a series. But then again, that isn’t necessarily an excuse? Hmm… I think I am gonna have to think on this one a bit more 🙂 Great review!

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