Series: The Bone Charmer #1
Published by Page Street Kids
Published on 21 May 2019
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Source: my local library
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In Saskia’s world, bones are the source of all power. They tell the future, reveal the past, and expose secrets in the present. Each village has a designated seer who performs readings for the townsfolk, and in Midwood, the Bone Charmer is Saskia’s mother.
On the day of her kenning―a special bone reading that determines the apprenticeships of all seventeen-year-olds―Saskia’s worst fears come true. She receives an assignment to train as a Bone Charmer, like her mother, and even worse, a match-making reading that pairs her with Bram―a boy who has suspicious tattoos that hint of violence.
Saskia knows her mother saw multiple paths for her, yet chose one she knew Saskia wouldn’t want. Their argument leads to a fracture in one of the bones. Broken bones are always bad luck, but this particular set of bones have been infused with extra magic, and so the break has devastating consequences―Saskia’s future has split as well. Now she will live her two potential paths simultaneously. Only one future can survive. And Saskia’s life is in danger in both.
I didn’t quite know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that.
And funnily enough, although I specifically don’t like zombies, I don’t mind magic based on bones? I guess the difference there is whether the corpse is rotting or the bones are clean. Sorry for that mental image.
I got from the blurb that this would be a Sliding Doors-esque narrative, and I’ve definitely enjoyed that before. I love how authors get to explore two different stories in one, and I’ve seen it done better in some cases than others. This is one of those better cases.
I just loved everything about this. I’ve been struggling to read physical copies lately, but this was the perfect size to read about a hundred or so pages over three or four days, a lovely couple of hours or so a day just lost in this book. It was a lovely experience.
The worldbuilding was intense but really cool – I wasn’t so much a fan that each different category of magic had several names, but it made sense that the people living in this world would use slang or nicknames for their work. I loved how the entire society was built around bones including a death ceremony so unexpected that I couldn’t help but admire it.
I really enjoyed reading both of Saskia’s stories, and I especially loved seeing her romances play out. I loved so much seeing Saskia’s prejudices come back to bite her in the bum, and how she grew as a character because of this. I loved seeing one relationship flourish after so much hostility, watching the characters learn to like and then trust, then care for one another. I was also suitably hurt when another relationship was hiding something dark and murky beneath.
I especially loved her relationship with her mother. The question of fate versus choice. What happens when someone chooses your fate for you. I especially loved how in one narrative, Saskia got everything she specifically said she wanted. I really do feel that excellent stories can arise from giving characters exactly what they want, and this is probably my favourite book I’ve read where that happens.
I also really liked how some things happened in both universes. I felt that the dual narrative was perfectly balanced, and I had to keep reminding myself not to skip forward to the next chapter because the one I was reading was so good as well.
So overall I loved the worldbuilding, the characters and their motivations, the magic system and the whole society that was built around bones, and the dual narrative.
I’m only a little sad that this dual-narrative format probably won’t be repeated in the sequel.