The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Contos
First Publication Date: 8th Septembr 2020
I received an advance copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: 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.
The Bone Shard Daughter is a new adult fantasy I was very much looking forward to once I saw the blurb about it having bone magic and a main F/F couple. It certainly does, and I was very pleased as to how this world did not have homophobia or treated men and women differently. We had women soldiers, women governors etc – it was very refreshing!
The story is told through several point-of-views: Lin, the daughter of the Emperor, who lost her memory after getting sick and is now struggling to earn her father’s love and stay his heir; Jovis, a smuggler who gets entangled in saving children from a horrific ritual; Sand, a girl who has no memories of before arriving in her mysterious island, but that one day starts remembering who she used to be, and it changes everything; Phalue, the daughter of a governor will become governor herself and is trying to get her girlfriend Ranami to marry her; and Ranami , who is deeply in love with Phalue but struggles to conciliate her love for the governor’s daughter with her desire for revolution.
It’s one of those stories where you start to see the different plots converge and get very excited when the characters meet, something that was very well-executed in this book! Personally, I don’t normally like multiple POVs and they definitely slowed the story down, but they also allow for a bigger exposure of the world and how the story moves from different points with different players, making it more complex and interesting.
The Bone Shard Daughter’s biggest strength is its twists: I mostly did not see them coming until they were smacking me on the face, and the ever-present feeling of secrets and betrayal made for a very compelling read. The magic system was also a highlight because it felt very much like coding but make it bone magic, which was very cool.
The story fell a little flat for me when it comes to the characters – they felt so much like other characters I’ve read and their motivations were so transparent that it was obvious what would happen next. The humor did not quite work for me either (although I loved Mephi!). Thankfully, the plot twists were so interesting that they mostly made up for it. I was also hoping for a different writing style – despite being a new adult fantasy, it read very much like YA to me, which means it’s a good transition book if you’re looking for more adult characters in YA-style stories, but it felt a bit repetitive to me, too similar to other books I’ve read.
All in all, I had a mixed experience – I enjoyed the magic, the plot twists and some aspects of the world, but it also did not feel like the most original story with the most original and complex characters. This reminded me of Furyborn by Claire Legrand in many ways, so I think if you liked this series you’ll enjoy this one, too. It’s a very solid fantasy and I think it will be a crowd-pleaser – I tend to be quite picky with my fantasy, so my lukewarm rating should not stop you from reading it if the synopsis interest you!