Synopsis (From GoodReads):
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.
From the intriguing title, to the stunning book cover, I yearned to read this book from the moment I saw it on NetGalley. Aside from the too-open ended finish, this book did not disappoint.
What I Liked:Narrative Style:
The book alternates chapters between two first-person narratives. First, a bard (we are never told his name) is compelled to travel to a desolate beach where an older Tea is preparing her revenge. He asks her questions about her life, and witnesses her preparations for her revenge.
The other narrator is Tea reflecting on her training as an Asha and laying the groundwork for why she is seeking revenge.
I've never seen a book organized in this way. It was unusual and compelling.
A significant portion of the book happens in The Willows, a place much like that of the Geisha district in Kyoto, Japan. I lived in Japan for several years, and I immediately understood the type of atmosphere the author was trying to convey. The world of Asha (witches) is run much like Geisha. The Asha train for years in more than spells. They must be adept at singing, dancing, musical instruments, and conversation. Then they set about entertaining important people at tea houses in The Willows.
I loved the descriptions of the clothing, and accessories of the Asha. This may seem superficial, but the clothing of each Asha was an important part of their lives. I made a Pinterest board to show what I think the fashions may have been like:
I loved Tea, the main character of the book. She was someone who was constantly being controlled by others. She struggled to find the strength needed to break free of everyone else's expectations and be her own person. I also liked that, although her Asha abilities were rare, she wasn't a Super character. She was not great at everything she tried (particularly singing!). I get very irritated when the main character is perfect, and Tea is far from that.
What I didn't Like:Ending:
While I understand that this will be a trilogy, I was frustrated by the huge cliffhanger ending!
Yes, the main problem of the book was solved. But there were so many unanswered questions, that I was extremely frustrated! I had to take half a star away from my rating to reflect this.
Overall, this was an exciting beginning to a saga I will be following with great interest in the future.
Release Date: March 7th, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy
Format: ARC E-Book
Recommendation: If you enjoy magic, political intrigue, and strong female characters, you will love this book.