“Maybe Norbert would enjoy a play date.” Hagrid, Harry Potter
This is first book of the year I really felt compelled to finish and the first of those I have reviewed here to break the 4.0 barrier. The Bone Witch is a dark, high fantasy style novel with elements of Japanese/Geisha tradition woven in a magical, medieval setting. The story is narrated by a Bard, who relays the story HE is hearing from our Bone Witch, who is telling the story as she prepares to enter a quest of unknown purpose. The book is a look-back, prequel, origin story about our Bone Witch and only time (and sequels) will tell if we learn the reasoning and outcome of the unnamed quest. Don’t worry, the story is satisfying in and of itself.
The world building here is delicious, not hackneyed in any way. The magic has reasonable rules and its use takes a cost that is very reasonable and fair. The local mythology is gently introduced but clearly plays an important role in the day to day affairs of the land. The author’s voice is clear and seems effortless. If I had to find fault it would be in the use of some banal vocab (biriyani) while the majority of the culture seems based on new vocabulary (hua). Consistency would be nice.
Overall, a book fantasy readers will enjoy. Though it did not quite bust the 4.5. ceiling, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was optioned for the screen. So read it soon!
4 for reading it all the way through in one sitting
5 for story arc as the three individual story arcs (the religious mythology, the Bard’s, the Bone Witch’s) are all cleverly intertwined ultimately
4 expanding my horizons as I enjoyed both the Asian influences and the high fantasy style though neither are my usual preference
5 for cleverness and richness, story was well laid out, well presented and yet had no excess fat that I could see
4 for voice as the author’s word choice and tone kept me in the story and engaged