I procrastinated about reviewing this book because I wasn’t quite sure that I liked it. The book started out strongly – there were 2 points-of-view. The present was told by a bard and the past was told by the main character, Tea. It’s obvious that something serious happened because the beginning of the book reveals that Tea has been banished to an island by herself. I enjoyed the writing style, but I wish there had been more substance to the book and less of the airy descriptions.
There were also some holes in the story that didn’t make sense to me. First, I didn’t understand how Tea was able to accidentally resurrect her brother, Fox, from death. Supposedly, she has magical powers, but later in the book, in the descriptions of asha training, ashas (witches) have to draw ruins, sometimes using their own blood to create spells. How does one accidentally draw ruins when one doesn’t know how to do it? It occurs later on in the story, too, but with some sort of stone that amplified Tea’s powers. I also didn’t understand the point of the heartglass. Everyone has a heartglass (from what I can gather, some sort of stone) that changes colors according to their moods. If you love and trust someone completely, you can exchange heartglasses with them, but it makes you vulnerable if they no longer love you at some point. It’s also supposed to make ashas weaker not to have their heartglass. If you lose your heartglass and you don’t care about the person that you gave it to, you can have another one made for you at great expense. It seems ridiculous to me. You’re not born with these heartglasses attached to you so why bother going through the expense in the first place if it makes you vulnerable? The book said that only really wealth people could afford to have another heartglass made. How did the average person obtain a heartglass in the first place? Maybe I missed something in the story that explained this? It seemed like there were too many magical things going on in the story that the author couldn’t even keep track of them all.
I also didn’t understand some of the societal descriptions in the book. People feared Bone Witches because they practiced “dark” arts. Dark, in this case, means that they bring things back from the dead. If they fear them, why would they call them Bone Witch, which is considered a derogatory term, instead of dark asha? Throughout the book, there’s a hint that dark ashas are somehow bad, but they’re the ones protecting everyone from the daevas (monsters), at great personal risk. The author said in the book that people fear and hate people they need. That may be true of some people in a group, but I can’t see a whole society behaving like that. Even if it were true, why would someone who was so useful and powerful need to dress up and entertain rich people at parties?!?
As if it weren’t enough that Tea has to face people who hate her and awful monsters, she also has to face an enemy known as the Faceless. The Faceless appear to have strong powers, but we have no idea why they’re trying to harm everyone. There’s no explanation about why some people have power and some don’t. There’s no explanation about why some people are born with more power and others aren’t.
This leads me to my biggest problem with this book – it started a bunch of interesting characters and possible story lines, but then it never went anywhere. I kept waiting for explanations or something and there was just nothing. Fantasy books still have to make sense within the scope of that fantasy world. I felt like this didn’t. The ending of the book was supposed to be a cliffhanger to make the reader excited about the sequel. I just felt disappointed that I read an entire book that was basically just a confusing prologue.
I don’t think I could recommend this book to others.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary e-book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.