ARC review, book review, young adult

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (ARC Review)

30095464Title: The Bone Witch
Author: Rin Chupeco
Type: Fiction
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Date published: March 7, 2017
Format: Digital
Page Count: 400
Source: NetGalley

A digital copy of the book was kindly provided by the publisher through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:  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.



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I was approved for this book sometime during the second half of last year, and I have since been very excited to get to reading this book. I would have read it sooner, but requested enough books up to February of this year  that I was completely “booked” (haha) and therefore unable to get to it until late Feb. Needless to say, I was quite happy when I was finally able to pick this book up and start reading. (I was also excited about the cover of this book! Isn’t it lovely?!)

From the start, this book was quite different from what I had expected. What I was thinking this book would be like, I believe, was something like a gothic, dark fantasy..type thing. Or maybe something like The Bone Doll’s Twin by Lynn Flewelling, which was a terrifying dark fantasy,  (I could not read that book at night, for the most part).

bone-witch-2What I got in stead, was intriguing, and a little confusing. The world building is detailed, and all things (food, clothing, landscapes, cityscapes, music, culture etc.) were very easy to imagine. The world which Chupeco created is very inviting, and lush. I could have read about the world in The Bone Witch forever!

Something about this book kept me at an arm’s length, however, and I was happy when I was able to figure out what that was. This story is told by two narrators, at two points in time. A bard searches out Tea, the bone witch, during “present time” (calling it that for simplicity’s sake), and Tea then tells the bard her “past” story. Both narratives are written in the first person, but despite this, I found myself unable to feel close to either of the narrators, much less caring for either of them. I really wanted to love this book, and all of the necessary elements are there, except for a likeable narrator. I did not hate either of the narrators, don’t get me wrong, but they both felt a little flat, monotone, and just…unlikeable to me because of this. Therefore by default, the story itself was not as enjoyable for me as it should have been. Think of it as a story being told to you by a person you dislike, or have zero feelings for; it does not matter how great or exciting the story was, …you would simply not be enjoying it as much as you could if say, it were told to you by someone else, or someone you like or are close to.

bone-witch-1The writing was good, a joy to read, and I did not encounter any awkward phrasing. I also loved that the world was a mixture of the book Memoirs of a Geisha and the manga/anime series Inu Yasha (although at times it felt a little too Memoirs of a Geisha-ish…if that makes sense. Some of what happened just seemed like a reflection of what happened in the aforementioned book, to me at least). Beautiful, magical maidens fighting monster/demons with runes while wearing lovely, Japanese-inspired outfits. This type of story is very much up my alley! I simply think that if the story had been told in the third person (and with a different MC), or simply told by different characters (whom I could have clicked better with), that my experience with this book would have been better, and my rating a lot higher.

That being said, my overall opinion of this book changed considerably during the last few chapters of this book. I even felt a bit of a liking for Tea due to a particular development in the story. This portion of the plot, and how the book ended, made me really want to give this series another shot by reading the sequel when it comes out. I am aware after all, that sometimes the first book in a series may require a lot of set-up, and that the more exciting parts of a plot may not begin or take place until the next book.

Finally, (since I feel as if I have been rambling for far too long), I would recommend this book to those who enjoy Japanese inspired fantasies (for example, containing story lines, creatures, clothing, foods, etc. which are inspired by current or past Japanese culture). I would also recommend this book to those who enjoy fantasy, and are a fan of Memoirs of a Geisha, and/or Inu Yasha and other similar Japanese manga and animes. And I would also inform those who I recommend this book to that there is a lot of “set-up” and world building, and that they may not click with either of the narrators at first, or at all.




Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. Dances like the neighbors are watching. She is represented by Rebecca Podos of the Helen Rees Agency. She is also fond of speaking in the third person, and may as well finish this short bio in this manner. Twitter: @rinchupeco || Pinterest: Rin Chupeco || Blog:



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6 thoughts on “The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (ARC Review)

  1. I’ve see lots of mixed reviews for that one, yours was really good at explaining what didn’t work for you!
    I still want to give it a chance, it sounds interesting and a nice worldbuilding always appeals to me!

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