I’ve been meaning to/working on diversifying my reading more this year. Mainly, I wanted to add more Fantasy titles to my reading lists and explore unique worlds. Bone Shard Daughter had already done its rounds on Instagram and Youtube, but I don’t think I was actually influenced by the opinions there, at least not initially. 🙂
The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart is a fantasy world ruled by an emperor who maintains his power and control through constructs; creatures powered by his magic and bone shards taken from each of his citizens. The bone shards also come at a steep cost, one worse than the pain that comes with taking them; it drains their life when used. This is the failing empire Lin is working to inherit from her father, but with lost memories that future is far from certain, especially as a revolution begins to take root.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
With my reading being kind of all over the place the last year or so this is perhaps one of the few fantasy books I’ve read and enjoyed as much as the Daevabad trilogy. I’m starting to realize the strengths I look for in fantasy stories and what hooks me in particular; the characters and world being compelling, but introduced in a fast paced and suspenseful way. The world specifically was unique in both its structure of islands, and the magic, which focuses on the idea of magic at a physical cost (sort of like Fullmetal Alchemist if you’re into anime/manga). While the actual user of the magic can take on the cost, the emperor in this story had figured out how to power his “constructs”- different animal parts pieced together that follow set commands – by using the bone shards of citizens until their life force is used up. It’s pretty twisted and emperor like altogether, but the reality just gets worse and worse as we get further into the story and more information is revealed. This was perhaps one of the reasons I’d say the book was as suspenseful as it was. This whole magic system while a little hard to follow in the beginning is just so dark and twisted that every new information reveal just kept me going ‘oh gosh’. I think I had to pause after the reveals just to take in how twisted it all was becoming. If anything, this book kept me on my toes.
As all fantasy novels tend to the Bone Shard Daughter started off a little slow as you get introduced to the world, magic, and characters. The suspense really is what pulled me through this initial information stage, but where I’d say it was mostly a positive, it also had a big flaw; multi-pov. I typically struggle with multi-pov stories anyway, but this one hit me harder. For one, Lin is my favorite character and pov, she’s an amazing character yes, but she’s also consistently adding to the suspense and action of the story. Jovis is a good second in both the same ways, but Lin was always the one I was waiting to have return. It’s a bad habit of mine where I connect to one character more every time, but this one hurt a lot more than usual. I literally just wanted to know what happened to Lin when we were going through other chapters, and felt guilty about it when I started connecting dots towards the end. I’m just waiting at this point to find a multi-pov story that has every chapter keeping me glued (not counting Six of Crows before anyone says it). This book just had characters mixed in that in the scheme of things made perfect sense, but didn’t always hook you since they were meant to clue you into something else that hadn’t been revealed yet. For the patient reader this will just be little crumbs leading you on the trail, for readers looking for something to keep them on the move this will be like a hiccup in the flow. I am an impatient reader if that wasn’t clear. For me, the suspense was tied into the constructs and emperor, so Lin was the backstage pass that I didn’t want to give up.
Overall, this book was a great Fantasy read, its magic system is a little different than the types we see in most fantasy, so that could be a hurdle, but the characters and world are all unique and compelling. I sincerely thought the next book was already out when I read this, so bask in the fact that I went to a Barnes and Noble then proceeded to hunt down a book that didn’t yet exist. I’m really looking forward to Lin and Jovis’ next moves, and just how the world and magic will continue to play out.