**I was provided with an eArc from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!**
When I first heard about this book, I immediately wanted to read it! The main protagonist is called Tea (which is written like tea but not pronounced like it, even though I can’t help but think of the tea you drink anyway. I love tea.) and she’s a dark witch. What more could I possibly want? Well, something more apparently … because while I wouldn’t necessarily call The Bone Witch disappointing, it was not all I hoped it would be.
The story is told in two different time streams. One follows Tea from the tender age of 12 to her rise as an asha (=bone witch) and another one from when she is 17 years old and has been exiled from the community. For me it was difficult to follow the latter, because she reminisces about her past (which gets backed up by the other timeline), but also talks about revenge plans that I couldn’t comprehend as a reader because I have no idea what happened and we don’t find out in this book. It is obvious that this is a series (I don’t know how many parts, but it will definitely have one sequel), but it seemed like a prequel/origin story for something you have no idea about.
The world of The Bone Witch is an extensive one, where maps and explanations of countries and such are direly needed. They are provided in the front and back of the book, but I still felt lost when it came to the cultural aspects and geographical locations of kingdoms. Chupeco likes to go into detail when it comes to description, but the characters didn’t explain so much as just talk about the things that are a regular part of their lives. So, to me, it felt like reading a foreign language, which made it impossible to follow all the political aspects and such, which I simply ignored at one point or another.
I think one of the things that I struggled with a bit was the lifestyle of the asha. You have to know, they are among the most powerful people, either being able to manipulate elements or raise corpses and control minds. They start their apprenticeship around the age of 13 and it takes several years until their official debut. Their lessons include things such as history and politics as well as combat training, which I think is cool. However, a big part of their education is singing, dancing, playing instruments and learning how to entertain guests. The value of an asha is measured by how often they are booked to meet guests and how much they are willing to pay – the more popular, the better for their house. So, they literally get rented out. It just felt like they were some sort of magical combo between escorts and geisha. I do understand that there is a political aspect to this and a lot of tradition and honor involved, but I DON’T get why that’s necessary. They should not have to entertain anyone and make sure they are liked unless they want to, because as I said, they are among the most powerful people there are. At some point they did try to break down gender stereotypes, with only women being asha and men being Deathseekers (soldiers trained to battle evil creatures), but not very successfully so.
Finally, there was a supposed twist about the love interest in the end, which I didn’t find to be a surprise at all. While I might not always guess the bad guy correctly, you cannot fool me in the romance department. I know most of what I said didn’t sound very positive, but it was an interesting story. I just don’t think that it resonated with me as much as I hoped for. I would still be willing to pick up a sequel and if it were only to figure out what’s really going on.
Fazit: 3/5 stars! My lack of understanding of the world and the detailed description made it difficult for me to truly connect.
Did you hear about The Bone Witch? Would you like to read it?