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Literature / The Bone Witch

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Let me be clear, I never intended to raise my brother from his grave...

A Dark Fantasy Young Adult trilogy by Rin Chupeco, set in the Eight Kingdoms, a world where terrifying monsters known as Daeva periodically awaken from their slumber and rampage. Daeva can be fought only by those with great magical power; most commonly, by elemental witches known as Asha or elite soldiers called Deathseekers. Only the rare Dark Asha, or Bone Witches, can mentally control Daeva; Dark Asha are therefore considered the ideal Daeva-slayers, despite their low numbers.

The books are narrated by Tea, an exiled Dark Asha who summons a wandering bard to hear her tale. The story mainly consists of Tea's recollection of her work as an Asha and fall into darkness, with Flash Forwards between chapters depicting Tea's present-day fight to fix the broken elements of the Asha system and Eight Kingdoms society, by brutal means if necessary.


The first book, The Bone Witch, was released in 2017; it details Tea's training as an Asha and her struggle to understand both her powers and the intricate workings of Asha society. The second book, The Heart Forger (2018), focuses on Tea and her friends' efforts to fight the evil Faceless and their machinations, with additional focus on romance and Tea's exploration into the darker side of her powers. The third book, The Shadowglass, is slated for release in March of 2019.


Tropes present in this work:

  • Aerith and Bob: The books use a mix of fantastical names (Altaecia, Telemaine) and real-world names from various cultures (Ludvig, Inessa). Fox and Tea are a special case, as their names and all their siblings' names are proper nouns.
  • Berserk Button: Insulting Lady Mykaela is Tea's.
    • Don't threaten Prince Kance in front of Kalen.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The Faceless are unambiguously evil, but the Asha elders' actions and motivations become increasingly suspect as the series goes on, and Tea herself evenually becomes a brutal Unscrupulous Hero.
  • Child Soldiers: The Deathseekers. They start training (and fighting) at thirteen, many don't survive the training, and enlistment is mandatory for any boy with a silver heartsglass (in Kion at least).
  • Costume Porn: Personal appearance is one of the most important aspects of being an Asha, and the text goes into great detail describing the characters' clothing, hair ornaments, and makeup.
  • Cultural Chop Suey: Applies to the setting as a whole, but the cosmopolitan Kion is the strongest example; the food, clothing and customs are a mix of Asian and European cultures. Most other kingdoms exhibit Fantasy Counterpart Culture to some extent.
  • Expy: Quite a few of the characters are very similar to those in Memoirs of a Geisha, with Tea being Chiyo/Sayuri, Mykaela being Mameha, Mistress Pashmina being Mother, Zoya being Hatsumomo, and so on.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The less Cultural Chop Suey-exhibiting kingdoms are this in a broad sense; Drycht and Daanoris are Middle Eastern and East Asian analogues, respectively, while Istera and Tresea are based on Scandinavia and Russia. These kingdoms still draw from disparate real-world cultures—the second book contains a European-style dance ball in a Daanorian palace.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The Flash Forward Framing Device reveals various plot points in the main story; most notably, Tea will eventually become an Anti-Hero enstranged from the other Asha and will end up with Kalen, who will die at some point. However, the means by which these events come to pass, as well as the fate of many characters, aren't revealed.
  • Informed Attribute: Tea claims to be a fierce reader, but we never see her doing this after she leaves Knightscross.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Any Asha who fights counts as this, as Asha are expected to wear gorgeous, setting-appropriate clothing for any occasion.
  • Necromancer: Dark Asha have the power to bring people, animals, and Daeva back from the dead, though they can't revive anyone with a silver heartsglass. Tea is eventually able to, but only after her heartsglass turns black.
  • Protagonist-Centred Morality: Everyone Tea likes is a good person, and everyone she doesn't like is either a Jerkass or outright antagonist.
  • Satanic Archetype: Hollow Knife/The False Prince, who created the destructive Daeva and is worshipped by the Evil Sorcerors the Faceless. Though it's hinted, albeit by a villain, that things may not be so black and white.
  • Satellite Character: A justified example in Fox, as Tea raised him from the dead, so he is magically bound to her and since she's both his familiar and younger sister, his entire (sort of) life revolves around protecting her.
  • Serious Business: Many Asha make their living primarily by singing and dancing, and are held to a very high standard by their asha-ka (houses). The Asha-ka also rely heavily on the proceeds from these performances, which is part of why they're taken so seriously.
  • Sibling Team: Tea and Fox.
  • Those Two Guys: Kana and Farhi, the two maids at the Willows.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Zoya and Shadi used to be childhood friends before Shadi was accepted into Willows and Zoya wasn't.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Fox, Tea, and their brothers Wolf and Hawk. Tea's explanation is that her mother had high expectations of her children, and had abandoned flower names by the time Tea came along.


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