Overall Score: 7/10
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Source: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Book Summary (From GoodReads)
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.
If you’ve read Memoirs of a Geisha and enjoyed it, then you’ll enjoy this book.
This book is essentially a retelling of that story, albeit one set in a fantasy world. There are two stories told in alternating chapters. Rather than dealing with two different individuals, each story is about a different time period in one girl’s life, which is an interesting narrative choice. I found one story much more interesting than the other, although learning about Tea’s past gave some context to her current story.
After Tea, the main character, accidentally raises her brother from the dead, she is taken to a school for asha, who are essentially a combination of geisha, warrior (some of them), and witch. On her journey there, we learn how the dark asha, namely those who can raise the dead, are regarded in the different countries and what they can do. The author did a good job with the world building.
The book starts to majorly slow down once Tea arrives at the school for asha. After a rather promising start that involves a prank gone awry, this portion of the book becomes entirely focused on Tea learning how to be a proper asha. This involves dressing correctly, learning how to sing/dance, how to fight, and not a lot about actually using her magic. There are a few amusing things that happen but this part felt very much like I was re-read Memoirs of a Geisha.
Things pick up in the last 15% of the book, with Tea finally getting to actually use her powers. However, despite a few passages describing her lessons as a dark asha, her control of her powers seems to come from nowhere and doesn’t quite make sense in regard to character development. Had the middle portion been significantly condensed, I think that the ending of this book would make a good middle section.
Regarding the other storyline, we never really find out much detail about why Tea was exiled, what she did, how she acquired all of the stones, or anything else really. Had the first storyline converged a little more with this one, perhaps it would have made sense. As it is, I was left wanting a lot more information.
Overall, this book does show promise, however I think another round of edits and perhaps a condensation of the middle section would greatly benefit it. I would probably read the second book in the series if given the chance because I do like the premise and am curious as to how it turns out.