by Sarah Beth Durst
Set in a world where bone magic is prevalent, The Bonemaker is the tale of a group of retired heroes who are once again called to save their homes. When the evil they once vanquished, or thought they’d vanquished, seems to have risen again, they start to gather, feeling responsible for saving their people as they’d done in their youth.
But they’re not at all the heroes they once were. One has started a family. Another has gone insane. One isn’t even alive anymore. And this time around, they don’t seem to be wanted to save the world, their very attempts to convince others of the danger failing in the shadow of this new threat.
This is a novel about being a hero at any age. It’s about second chances, about being true to ourselves, and about the power people have when they trust one another and appreciate their own differences.
The Bonemaker, despite its bone magic and necromancy and skeletons, is not written in a dark fantasy fashion. It has an upbeat sense to it that soothes over the deathly consequences of the rising evil. The action scenes are exciting without feeling grimdark, the conflicts and setting are wondrous and worrisome without being dire.
Durst creates an amazing world here, one with different layers of bone magic–constructs and talismans, prophecy and power–and monstrous creatures with giant bones. It’s a world you’ll enjoy traveling inside, with a great deal of potential within to imagine just how wide and intricate a place with this kind of magic can be.
I recommend The Bonemaker for anyone who likes action adventure fantasy with inventive worlds and satisfying endings. Anyone who likes found families who reconnect. This novel is like being hugged warmly with the reminder that evil can be vanquished, regardless the shape or size of that evil.
A DEADLY EDUCATION
This novel is what you get when you mix Hunger Games and Harry Potter together. In fact, I could easily imagine that as the actual pitch for A Deadly Education. So if that combination sounds fascinating to you, you will likely enjoy this one!
The protagonist of this book, Galadriel (or El for short), is a student in a deadly, underground school where all the lessons are taught without teachers and monsters literally crawl up from cracks and lower floors in an attempt to eat the students who radiate power and magic. The students band together in alliance groups resembling raiding guilds or fellowships in order to have the power needed to survive their graduation day—when they’ll be forced to fight their way free from the school.
The writing style is a little more YA than Novik’s previous books, a style more in-line with recent series that have been incredibly popular. This comes from the easy, chatty first person point-of-view, her limited scope, and occasional unreliability as she views herself as a loner in the beginning and has to learn to truly understand the other students around her. There’s a lot of coming to terms with reaching out socially, seeking help when needed, as well as being willing to give of oneself in order to help the group as a whole in order to see wider success.
Please Note: there was some controversy over the use of the word dreadlocks in relation to being dirty and this is most definitely a line that is unsightly in the novel, however, the author has come out with an apology and future runs will not have the comment.