We all tell ourselves stories of who we are, and in my mind, I was always the hero. But I wasn’t. Not in all the ways I should have been.
The Bone Shard Daughter might fool you with its generic YA sounding title, but fear not : at its heart you’ll find a captivating tale of dark magic, power, oppression and rebellion. I’ve been blessed with wonderful fantasy novels this year, with fantastic sets of complex characters, yet The Bone Shard Daughter barged into my favorite list on page one.
Truly, the way I was instantly absorbed in every chapter is a testament of how great The Bone Shard Daughter is, because my reading has been all over the place this past week (I blame Rogue Legacy 2). But even though I only read little chunks of it each time, I never felt disconnected from the characters but on the contrary, I can say without doubt that they never ceased to delight and interest me.
But first of all, meet Mephi :
Mephi, now as tall as my knee, pressed his body against my leg. “We do a very good,” he said in a stage whisper.
For what felt like the thousandth time, I made a lowering gesture with my hand.
“A very good,’ he said, only a little more quietly.
Now that it’s settled : the characters are indubitably where The Bone Shard Daughter first shines. At the top of this world, we have an old emperor and its bone-shard constructs ; his daughter, Lin, craving her father’s approval and the return of her long-lost memories ; his foster son, Bayan, with whom Lin is engaged in a fierce competition ; Jovis, a heartbroken smuggler who’s been looking for his wife and who wants you to know that if he sometimes does the right thing, it’s with reluctance, he’s not a good person, thank you very much ; Mephi, Jovis’ sidekick, who may or may not be a baby otter ; Phalue, a governor’s daughter whose girlfriend, Ramani, wants her to open her eyes on the harsh class inequalities carried on by her family ; finally – Sand, a woman who doesn’t know why she’s been picking mangoes for weeks now (or is that months? years?). They’re no heroes. They’re no villains either, but all of them are somewhat morally grey, and if at times I felt uncomfortable and even sick to my stomach because of some of their actions, I’m grateful for that. I don’t think this story could have benefited from more selfless characters. It just wouldn’t ring true, would it? They’re so lovable, though.
Moreover, the pacing was fantastic and sprinting through this 400+ pages novel felt effortless. The combination of alternative points of view – in first or third POV depending on the character, but it never felt jarring – and carefully staged revelations truly did wonders. Every chapter ended on a cliffhanger of sorts : it was so deliciously frustrating, I loved it. There’s no info-dump but rather, pieces of info about the world and its history were weaved into the plot beautifully. Some plot points I guessed, but it didn’t ruin the story for me but on the contrary, we’re meant to in my opinion and it made me burst with anticipation. Most developments, though? I didn’t expect them, and with hindsight perhaps I should have. But isn’t it the best when it happens? When revelations make you look back and smile – or gasp – in wonder?
It felt like I was digging the end of the tool into my soul, scratching irreversible words into its surface.
But it was done.
Bottom line: The climax had me riveted, clutching my book as only favorites can. November cannot come soon enough, because I need to know where Andrea Stewart will take her characters after this amazing ending.
Content Warnings : Violence; death of loved ones (off-page); depictions of blood, grief, and gore; torture (off-page); cutting into skin (not self-harm); amnesia or memory loss; drowning; murder and death
About The Bone Shard Daughter
Author : Andrea Stewart | Publisher : Orbit | Genre : Adult Fantasy | Pages : 438
The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.
Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.
Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.