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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website
Pre-order the book HERE (USA)HERE (UK)

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Andrea Stewart is the daughter of immigrants, and was raised in a number of places across the United States. Her parents always emphasized science and education, so she spent her childhood immersed in Star Trek and odd-smelling library books. When her (admittedly ambitious) dreams of becoming a dragon slayer didn't pan out, she instead turned to writing books. She now lives in sunny California, and in addition to writing, can be found herding cats, looking at birds, and falling down research rabbit holes.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: In an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne. The Bone Shard Daughter marks the debut of a major new voice in epic fantasy.

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.

FORMAT/INFO: The Bone Shard Daughter is 448 pages long spread out over forty-nine POV titled chapters. September 8th 2020 will mark the e-book, hardcover and audiobook publication of The Bone Shard Daughter and it is published by Orbit Books on both sides of the Atlantic. This is the first volume of the Drowning Empire Trilogy.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: The Bone Shard Daughter is an interesting debut that caught my eye based on Andrea Stewart and its blurb. The book was definitely one of the most original stories I’ve read in the past decade.

The story is set on a series of Islands & archipelagos which consist of the main empire in question. It’s ruled by an emperor who is the main enforcer for the empire by virtue of his bone shard magic. The emperor controls the people and maintains justice, law and order for its inhabitants via these awesome constructs which are made from bones. The process of how these bone shards are collected is a bit chilling and has its roots in how the empire was saved from the Alanga. The emperor has ruled with an iron fist for quite many years however something seems to be changing. Is it age, is it the loss of magic or something else.

The story has five main POV characters and each one is brilliantly distinct from the other. There’s Lin who is the Emperor’s daughter and a person struggling to control her power. There’s Jovis a brilliant smuggler whose life consists entirely focused on a search for a loved one. There’s Phalue, the Sapphic daughter of the governor and Ranami, her girlfriend and a main rebel as well. Lastly there’s Sand a person who’s lost her memory and is also on an island with others suffering from the same affliction. Plus the author really differentiates the POV characters by having them in first and third person narratives so that was an interesting twist. Plus each of the characters is distinctly different and presents a perspective that showcases a different aspect of the world.

The world setting is very different and absolutely the highlight of the story. Because of the island settings, right off the bat we get treated to a non-medieval setting that’ unique and much more fun to explore. I l also loved the magic system utilized which is unique but also very, very creepy. The empire is controlled and protected by Bone constructs and these constructs are literally fueled by its inhabitants. Each family is forced or rather told to honourably contribute a bone shard (from the head no less) for the successful promulgation of the empire and its security. The catch being that many children and adults have died from this process called the tithing ceremony and yet it’s goes on without any complaints (or none that the emperor will care to listen).

In this regard, the security of the empire is very much in the hands of the Emperor and contributed by the people. These Bone constructs take on major and minor forms and can communicate as well. This just adds to the creepy factor and the author really does a fine job in fleshing out this whole premise. Lastly the ending of this book is a veritable stunner and will leave you gasping for the next book immediately. That’s a near-perfect way to finish a debut story if you ask me.

The only part of the book that prevented it from being a five star read for me was that the pace is very uneven throughout the story. Firstly the author introduces five different POV characters in the first six chapters of the story and during the middle third of the book (especially within a couple of POVs, the pace is dragged down horribly). It picks up decently as the plot converges towards the climax but it never quite evens out. Honestly this was subjective and the only part that dampened a near fantastic read for me.

CONCLUSION: Featuring a very unique magic system and a writing style that’s very easy  to follow as well as sophisticated. Andrea Stewart presents a debut that’s captivating and creepy in just the right amounts. The Bone shard Daughter is one of my favourite debuts of 2020 and easily marks Andrea as an author to follow. I can’t wait to read the remaining Drowning Empire sequels to see what she does and how she develops further as a writer.

NOTE: My thanks to Kate Heceta, Andrea Stewart and Orbit Books for allowing me to be a part of the Bone Shard Daughter Blog Tour. You can check out the remaining stops below.


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