Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
In this ambitious fantasy, the start of the Bone Witch series, a young woman with the ability to raise and control the dead becomes embroiled in a struggle for power and acceptance in a world that fears and distrusts her kind. Tea attempts to master her new status as a bone witch among those who possess less frightening and more tolerable magics, but she learns that the role she's expected to play tends to kill bone witches before they grow old. As Tea's story unfolds against a framing sequence that shows how far she'll go to succeed, and how far she has already fallen from grace, a quiet tension and menace grows. Readers start off knowing that something terrible will happen, but the journey-as recounted in Tea's evocative, sometimes distant, and sometimes flowery manner-is mesmerizing. Chupeco (The Suffering) does a magnificent job of balancing an intimate narrative perspective with sweeping worldbuilding, crafting her tale within a multicultural melting pot of influences as she presses toward a powerful cliffhanger. Ages 12-up. Agent: Rebecca Podos, Rees Literary. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 7 Up-Chupeco craftily weaves magic, intrigue, and mystery into a captivating tale that will leave readers begging for the promised sequel. Being a witch, or an asha, is not out of the ordinary in Tea's world, but being a "bone witch" is another matter entirely. After Tea accidentally raises her brother from the dead, she discovers that she is destined to become one of the infamous Dark asha. Dreaded and feared yet highly valued for their services, the Dark asha are the only ones who can tame the demonic daeva, who threaten the kingdoms, but their taming comes at great expense. Tea must decide if the cost of losing her life, one battle at a time, is worth staving off the demonic onslaught. Or can she choose another path to save herself, her friends, and the boy she loves? Chapters alternating between her past and present seamlessly narrate the novel, leading up to Tea's mysterious exile. Because the plotlines have yet to converge in this installment, the book ends on the most excruciating of cliff-hangers. Chupeco uses vivid, descriptive detail, with nominal coarse language and violence, to set a rich tone that immerses readers in a vibrant and believable world. The short alternating chapters help move the story along quickly. VERDICT A strong choice for engaging reluctant readers and younger fans of fantasy who might not be ready to heft titles by Ursula K. LeGuin or Tamora Pierce.-Rose Garrett, Cliff Valley School, Atlanta © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Tea is a dark asha, a bone witch, capable of wielding death magic. It is a position both necessary and reviled by those around her, for every few years, monstrous daeva created by the False Prince rise and go on a murderous spree unless returned to death by a bone witch. Tea's story quietly unfurls through recollections told to a traveling bard, as the 17-year-old asha now an outcast prepares to wage a war of her own making. The narrative is primarily devoted to world building, which Chupeco fashions through a richly imagined history and culture, reminiscent of traditional Asian cultures, revealed through Tea's asha training. Those craving action may not appreciate this book's subtle execution, but patient readers who enjoy immersing themselves in detail will revel in Chupeco's finely wrought tale. Game of Thrones fans may see shades of Daenerys Targaryen in Tea, as she gathers a daeva army to unleash upon the world. Whether she is in the right remains a question unanswered, but the ending makes it clear her story is only beginning.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2017 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Something of a high-fantasy Memoirs of a Geisha, Chupeco's latest excels in originality. The asha are known for performing, fighting, and magic; beautiful, brown-skinned Tea is taken from her provincial village to Kion to begin training as a dark (in magic) asha when she accidentally raises her dead brother. Chapters detailing young Tea's early training through her debut as an asha intercut with 17-year-old Tea on a lonely beach raising monsters and planning war, relating her past to a nameless bard. The level of detail is astounding, confusing, but nevertheless fascinating; politics both local (the brief backmatter is a bit of a guide) and magical (the origin tale of the Faceless and heartsglass, introduced in the prologue, finally appears at the three-quarter mark) permeate everything. Multiple characters, including a dead brother and a handsome prince, surround stubborn, headstrong Tea as she finds herself implicated in events she doesn't understand; the interstitial chapters make it clear that learning more will not make things better. These also slow the pace; they force an artificial sense of urgency in an otherwise slow, sensory journey and hijack the flow of Tea's adventures. Chupeco is a writer to watch who deserves props for the breadth of her story, but she doesn't entirely succeed here. A promising premise, a flawed execution, and a sense that the real story won't develop until Book 2: somehow both exhilarating and disappointing. (Fantasy. 13 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.