Tag Archives: magic

Review of The Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco

I received a copy of The Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco, from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise. If there’s anything I’ve learned from him in the years since, it’s that the dead hide truths as well as the living.

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha-one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.

How can you be disappointed in a book that is beautifully written? I don’t really know, but I’ve managed it with The Bone Witch. Honestly, the writing and world-building is superb, but there my praise pretty much ends.

This book is 400+ pages long and the only action in the whole darned book occurs at the very beginning when the brother is raised from the dead and at 90%. That’s it. The whole rest of the book is Tea (pronounced as Tey-uh, as we annoyingly discover 67%) learning to be a geisha. Yes, she’s an all powerful bone witch. The only new one in decades, the one desperately needed, as the deava (undead beasts that rampage and kill people) keep popping up and, well killing people and she’s the only one who can do anything about them. But does she? No. In fact, when she asks to, she’s told to not waste time “with any more of these foolish wildgoose chases.” Instead, she learns to sing and dance and make pleasant conversation with her (apparently all) male cliental. That’s right, she’s basically just there for the entertainment of men, as are all asha.

There are things I appreciate about the book. There is some diversity in skin tone and culture. Some gender norms are purposefully challenged, though FAR MORE are passively reinforced. Again, the writing is beautiful. The reveal at the end piqued my curiosity, but I kind of saw it coming. It’s enough to interested me in the next book. But I spent a lot of this one being frustrated with the lack of pace and betrayal of a promise of a strong female lead. She’s stubborn and she is powerful, but I thought that every surrounding detail of the book—from the fashion to the families, to the political structure—undermined female autonomy and strength and reaffirmed women’s (or girls’) secondary position, even when possession an overwhelming ability. Which is not uncommon is fantasy, but I felt I’d been promised something different here. What’s more, I kind of sense the author thought she did write something different.

Case and point, an official graphic:

Review of The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, by Kai Ashante Wilson

I borrowed The Sorcerer of Wildeeps, by Kai Wilson, from my local library.

Description from Goodreads:
Since leaving his homeland, the earthbound demigod Demane has been labeled a sorcerer. With his ancestors’ artifacts in hand, the Sorcerer follows the Captain, a beautiful man with song for a voice and hair that drinks the sunlight.

The two of them are the descendants of the gods who abandoned the Earth for Heaven, and they will need all the gifts those divine ancestors left to them to keep their caravan brothers alive.

The one safe road between the northern oasis and southern kingdom is stalked by a necromantic terror. Demane may have to master his wild powers and trade humanity for godhood if he is to keep his brothers and his beloved captain alive. 

Oh wow, I did not expect to not like this book. I loved A Taste of Honey and expected to love this too. It just wasn’t to be!

First off, the writing is beautiful. It’s very poetic. But, BUT all that poetry is at the cost of clarity. So many times I read passages and didn’t know what they meant or what was actually happening. I was constantly confused about the timeline, unsure if what I was reading was a flashback or something happening in the future or where I might be in between.

Second, there are the dialects the characters use. Now, I read an article by Wilson in which he talked about how important it is to him to include certain speech patters in his writing. He talked about cultural and linguistic hierarchies and such. And in general I don’t have a problem with this, applaud it even. But some of what was used in this book worked and some just felt painfully anachronistic, worse it’s a fantasy setting that might not even be on Earth. So some of the language just didn’t fit at all, even if I saw what the author was trying to do.

And then there was the ending; the did he or didn’t he, obscure, unsatisfying, probably tragic ending. Nope. That was the last straw for me. I appreciated the diverse characterization, the lovely cover and am open to more of Wilson’s writing, but this book was not a winner.

Review of Stolen Ink (Ink Born #1), by Holly Evans

I received a copy of Holly EvansStolen Ink from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
I’m Dacian, a tattoo magician, and my life went from my biggest concern being finding a pretty guy to fall into bed with at the end of the week to everything falling apart around me. 

There are two problems in my life.

Number one – I’m an ink magician, the thing of myths. A lot of very powerful people would love to get their hands on me, and I have no intention of letting that happen. 

Number two – A tattoo thief came to my city, and the magical community has decided that I’m the guy to stop them. 

Somehow, I have to catch the thief without letting my secret out of the bag, and that’s even harder than it sounds.

I was seriously disappointed in this book. There is such a cool idea here. The connection between characters and their tattoo/companion animals is really interesting. Unfortunately the author did not pull it all together in a complete, engaging story.

The biggest problem is the writing. Sure, it’s readable and the dialogue isn’t such that it feels amateurish, it’s even pretty, but it all feels very shallow, like the reader is only given access to the surface of a much deeper story. I felt cheated. For a long time, after starting the book, I thought this must be a latter book in a series, because I wasn’t sure what was going and the characters seem to have so much history that we’re not given. Further, so much of the writing is tell, instead of show. I just never felt connected or invested in anything or anyone. Then it climaxes suddenly and is over.

I was left with some really basic unanswered questions, like what was the fundamental difference between and Ink and Tattoo Magician? Why did being an Ink magician need to be hidden from the council. Why was the council so scary and useless? What were the tattoo animals if not spirit animals, which they weren’t as a spirit animal is something different? And if it’s the bearer’s, say, soul, which it is kind of inferred they may be, how can they have more than one? It all led to a deep feeling of dissatisfaction. I didn’t hate it. In fact, I really wanted to like it because I liked the idea of it. I’d probably be willing to give the author another shot, but this one was a bust for me. Oh, and the cover doesn’t match the dark tone of the book or main character at all.