The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart
Everyone needs to read this book! Everyone! Read it! Read it! Read it!
The Emperor’s magic has kept the empire together for decades, and his magical constructs—and their deadly secrets—keep the people subdued and docile. Lin, the emperor’s daughter and former heir, is determined to wrest power from her father. But first she has to remember who she is. Across the empire, a thief and a swordswoman reconcile with new powers and new world views as a dangerous rebellion and powerful magic threaten the empire.
I cannot say how much I adored this book, and how gently I tiptoed into it. The Goodreads blurb makes it sound like a standard fantasy and that cover is kinda bland (super intricate and gorgeous, but the color scheme is kinda blah). But this book! OMG. From the very first page I fell in love with the writing, the world, the characters, everything.
It’s hard to remake one’s view of the world, to admit to complacency. I thought remaking myself for you was hard enough, but doing that was something I wanted.
There are twists. There are turns. There is magic and politics and ruthlessness and above it all there are people with their own motivations and desires and drives.
This book has perfectly captured the essence of everyone being the hero of their own story, and each character had to confront the fact that they were not heroes but had all been misguided in some way, shape or form. Throughout there is the theme of the stories people tell themselves of who they are. From Lin telling herself the story of who she was as the daughter of the emperor before she was sick, to Phalue telling herself she sees the world as it is and that she’s a hero, to Jovis convincing himself that he has done enough and that the ends justify the means. And then there is mysterious Sand, who is just waking up.
Plus! There is wild representation. A diverse cast culturally and it has an established w/w relationship! Granted, that relationship is on the rocks, but it’s there and so fraught and real.
I didn’t want to realize how much I’ve hurt the people around me, and that’s what confronting my beliefs meant.
Oh! Did I mention the magic??? The maaaaaggiiiiiiic.
There are a couple different kinds! There’s the bone shard magic Lin is trying to learn, where the magic comes from people—as in shards of bone plucked from the heads of children when they are around eight and then transferred into monstrous constructs of varying intelligence that suck the life forces from the people they came from—and then there is another, more mysterious magic. Plus there’s the ancient magic of the evil overlords who used to rule before the empire.
It’s everything I love about fantasy with twists that did. not. stop. coming. I cannot wait for book 2!
We all tell ourselves stories of who we are, and in my mind, I was always the hero. But I wasn’t. Not in all the ways I should have been.
I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review