In a world where magic wielders, called bone makers, use animal bones to gain special powers, read the future, or animate lifeless objects, a group of aging heroes has a second chance to defeat dark magic and save the world.
I am a huge fan of Sarah Beth Durst; she never disappoints me. Her world-building is always spot-on and is showcased beautifully in this book. Not only do we have a rich understanding of the world itself, but she also captivatingly details the magic system and folds in history that makes the world so vibrant. From the start, we meet Kreya, whose husband died in the Bone War many years before. But, Kreya refuses to accept his loss and has been using bone magic to trade years of her life to bring him back. This is dark magic, used by the very villain she and her friends defeated 25 years early. But has that villain really been defeated?
The stakes are immediately high in this book. Kreya risks her life to get the human bones needed to reanimate her husband, but while gathering the bones discovers that the villain she thought was dead might still be alive. Knowing this, she gathers the old gang of heroes who must try to save the day again. It’s a fast-paced, action-packed story from the start while still taking the time to develop each character.
The group of aging heroes are wonderfully realized. Zera, Kreya’s former best friend, has thrived after the Bone War and built a name for herself in the city. Jentt, Kreya’s husband, struggles to come to terms with the sacrifice his wife made to bring him back. Stran, the strongest of the heroes, has built a life and a family that he fears leaving. And Marso, the bone reader, is broken from years of bone readings that he thought were false. The dynamic of this team is really wonderful. They’re each battling trauma from their past, but are so supportive and trusting. Their dynamic reminded me a lot of Veronica Roth’s The Chosen Ones, but with its own unique spin.
The villain in this story is really compelling. Eklor is a bone maker who used dark magic to punish the government for the death’s of his wife and child. In the Bone War, Kreya thought she’d killed him, but he was able to come back to life. He vows that he has reformed his old ways and wants to operate for good, but his motivations are constantly in question.
I really loved this story. I thought it was unique, well paced, and richly detailed. If you love epic fantasy and “the chosen one” theme, this is a great choice.
Have you read The Bone Maker? Or anything by Sarah Beth Durst? Let me know what you think!
[CW: war, guilt, death]