Review: Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco

Synopsis: 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.

Title: Bone Witch
Author: Rin Chupeco
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pub Date: 7th March 2017
Pages: 400
ISBN: 9781492635826

Rating:

“‘You think the same way men drink, Tea,’ my father once said, ‘far too much — under the delusion it is too little.'”

I know you’re not meant to judge a book by its cover, but just LOOK AT IT! It was love at first sight. Match that to an incredible sounding synopsis and you have me breaking my book-buying ban yet again to acquire it for my holidays.

And, in general, this is a decent enough read. The premise is interesting; the pace is occasionally thrilling and the characters are well thought out, if not cliché. There was, unfortunately, one giant issue that I simply couldn’t get over.

The book is based around the concept of geisha but in a world of magic (think Magician meets Memoirs of a Geisha). This is good, we like this and, if the plot lines were a bit better – it would have been great.

But then it all goes South – or East, in this case. Specifically to the Middle East. There are so many words in Farsi and references to the Middle East, I had to double take more than a few times to make sure I was reading the same book.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never seen a YA set in the Middle East and, at first, it wasn’t so bad. But then the whole geisha plot came in and it just got so confusing – are you a geisha? Or are you an Iranian eating your body weight in sabzi polo?

I know this is a very specific bug bear; I am Middle Easter and I find it really quite strange seeing my mum’s best dishes mentioned so flippantly in a novel. But you just can’t just pick and choose bits of each culture you like; especially when it’s based in one place.

You can’t get me excited about the culture I grew up in being featured in a book for once, and then cut to a completely different country and culture.

YOU. JUST. CAN’T.

And this outrageous act completely ruined the book for me. I finished the novel purely to see if there was some rational explanation for the madness, but instead, spent the rest of the story counting the number of times she threw random Farsi words into the text instead.

Rant over.

The Bone Witch. A decent enough read if you won’t be equally maddened by the above.

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