Confession: this has been on my to-be-read pile for a long, long time based solely on the author’s name and title of the book. But i put it off, because, there’s kind of an overglut of “young girl in alternate fantasy world realizes she has powers and must go off to be trained” YA fantasy out there. I didn’t want to be bored.
Well, I wasn’t bored, that’s for sure. I was a bit annoyed by the narrative device of present-day first person in italics story-telling at the start of each chapter (and truthfully skimmed some of it) but was so immersed in the rune-based and heart-magic based cross between assassins and geisha of Lady Tea’s training that it didn’t matter.
Here there be monsters. Tea’s brother is killed by a daeva, a hybrid monster that arises from the dead like locusts every few years. Then a special brand of mage called “asha” or “bone witch” has to come kill it, take its heart, and put it back in the ground.
Tea resurrects her brother, Fox, and then the two of them are taken to a large city to undergo bone witch training. (which involves dancing, fighting, history, and herbology, apparently).
I wished there had been more scenes between Tea and Prince Khance to establish the details of their relationship, and more between Tea and Kalen to establish his animosity, but I did get swept up in they mystery of who was sabotaging the asha ceremonies and the overall politics of the region.
The narrative framing device of present-day view of Tea does tantalize us with some over-arching mysteries including how she falls in love, and why she’s raising monsters in the present day and what she’ll do with them. So despite being annoyed by that narrative device, I do acknowledge its effectiveness in forcing me to go get the next book to find out what happens.