book review, young adult

The Bone Queen by Alison Croggon (ARC Review)

32284099Title: The Bone Queen: Pellinor: Cadvan’s Story
Author: Alison Croggon
Type: Fiction
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Date published: June 13, 2017 (originally published on February 18, 2016)
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 416
Source: Publisher


A physical copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Summary: Seduced into sorcery by an agent of the Dark, the promising Bard Cadvan of Lirigon recklessly unleashed the terrible Bone Queen, bringing destruction down upon Annar. Cadvan, cast out of the Schools of Barding for his crime, now lives in exile, burdened by memories of his dealings with the Dark. At Cadvan’s former home, his mentor, Nelac, and his rival, Dernhil, begin to suspect that the Bone Queen may yet lurk in Annar, and a young Bard, Selmana, is plagued by an ominous presence and an unsettling new ability to step between worlds. With darkness gathering and Bards giving in to fear and paranoia, a guilt-ridden Cadvan must earn back the Bards’ trust and Selmana must gain control of her newfound powers to bring peace to the living and the dead.

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Before I get into my review for The Bone Queen, I would first like to state that I have not read any of the Pellinor Series before this, or any other books by Alison Croggon for that matter. I went into reading this book with a blank slate, other than perhaps the constant comparison between Croggon and Tolkien that I kept coming across for some reason. I would also like to say that I love high fantasy, and have devoured a number of epic fantasy novels throughout my teen and adult years. And now that that’s out of the way, I shall begin my review.

unnamed (2)The first thing I would like to say is that the comparison between Croggon and Tolkien (at least when it comes to The Bone Queen) may actually do some harm to Croggon and her series. Those who love Tolkien and his work (like myself) will find that although Croggon’s world is very detailed (regarding magic, landscape, culture, and lore), it does not quite compare to the complexity and detail of Tolkien’s universe. Croggon’s writing, while very good, also did not compare to Tolkien’s talent with the written word. Although many people complain that Tolkien put a lot of detail into his The Lord of the Rings series, and while I agree, I also found that I thoroughly enjoyed these details because I loved the world and wanted to absorb everything I possibly could about it. Tolkien’s writing is also a pure joy for me to read because the manner in which he combined his words into sentences is simply beautiful. On the other hand, those who dislike Tolkien might be scared off from Croggon’s books before they even read the first page. So, my point is that this comparison should not be made due to the harm it may cause The Pellinor series, and also in order to avoid any confusion.

As I mentioned, Croggon’s writing is very good, and while I can appreciate the skill with which she composes her sentences, I found that the manner in which The Bone Witch was narrated was not really for me. For those who will argue that this is due to the fact that this book is written in the third person, I would like to say that I prefer books written in the third person, and that this factor played no role in how I feel about this book. The Bone Queen definitely did not jump into action right away, and I found the tone to be melancholy and a little dry (which looking back now, makes sense, and is fitting considering the plot and subject matter). I understand why the book started where it did, but worry that some readers may not make it to the 100 page mark because of it.

unnamed (3)The build up, and rising action in this book spans over approximately 300 pages which feature a lot of character self-reflection, a lot of contemplation, and a great amount of dialogue. While the dialogue is very well written, and there were definitely a few turns of phrase which I would consider gold nuggets, I found a lot of the dialogue to be unnecessary when it came to the main plot. When considering that this book is also about camaraderie and friendship, however, the dialogue and detailed interaction between characters makes sense, and is appreciated. Since I did not warm up to the characters all that much though, the friendship aspect didn’t hold much interest for me.

While this book contained a lot of detail when it came to locations (such as cities, or larger buildings) and characters’ contemplations, I found that I couldn’t really get a good feel for what the characters looked like. I also found that I did not really connect with any of the characters, or claim a character as my favourite. This may be due to the fact that I did not read the Pellinor Series prior to this prequel, and that one must have a previous connection to characters (as well as the world) in order to feel close to them. I still appreciate the amount of imagination, and originality that went into this book and feel that the fact that I did not read the Pellinor Series before this prequel may have a lot to do with the majority of my opinion about it. I may have to re-read The Bone Queen once I’ve read the main series in order to enjoy this prequel as it should be enjoyed.

I would definitely recommend this book to those who enjoy epic fantasy, but would also advise that they read The Bone Queen after having read the other Pellinor books first.

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Alison Croggon is the award winning author of the acclaimed fantasy series The Books of Pellinor, named a Top Ten Teen Read by Amazon in 2005. You can sign up to her monthly newsletter and receive a free Pellinor story at Her latest Pellinor book, The Bone Queen, was a 2016 Aurealis Awards Best Young Adult Book finalist. Other fantasy titles include Black Spring (shortlisted for the Young People’s Writing Award in the 2014 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards) and The River and the Book, winner of the Wilderness Society’s prize for Environmental Writing for Children. She is a prize-winning poet and theatre critic,, and has released seven collections of poems. As a critic she was named Geraldine Pascall Critic of the Year in 2009. She also writes opera libretti, and the opera she co-wrote with Iain Grandage was Vocal/Choral Work of the Year in the 2015 Art Music Awards. Her libretto for Mayakovsky, score by Michael Smetanin, was shortlisted in the Drama Prize for the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. She lives in Melbourne

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0 thoughts on “The Bone Queen by Alison Croggon (ARC Review)

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