Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Q&A + Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

Good morning lovely bookish people, and welcome to The Bone Witch tour! If I told you that I was really excited to read this book, that would be an understatement. More accurately, this was one of my most anticipated books of this season! So I'm pleased as punch to be a part of this tour, and to help Rin Chupeco promote her new book!

The Bone Witch (#1)
by Rin Chupeco
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

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The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer. 

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learn-ing to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

1. Can you share with us where the idea for this book stemmed from? Did it start as an inkling, or come to light as a whole formed idea?

It started mainly from my musings regarding siblings. I have a younger sister, but my parents miscarried a year before they had me. It's not something talked about in the family a lot, and I'd always wondered what it would be like if my older brother had survived. Writing-wise, The Bone Witch was sort of a physical representation of that – a sister literally raising her brother from the dead – and then built up from there. I've always been a big fan of Asian culture, particularly Japanese and Chinese, and they were what I knew a lot about, so the idea of weaving magic and spells around clothes felt organic, dress being a symbol of social ranking in both countries then. And in a world where magic existed, it felt like adding spells to what you wore would be a natural progression in this culture. From there, the idea of heartsglass evolved – an aesthetic-like spell that would have a utilitarian function. All those ideas were basically stepping stones where figuring out one idea unlocked new ones, until they all eventually became part of The Bone Witch.

2. What was your favorite part about writing this book? What kind of research did you get to do?

There wasn't as much research as most people might think. I was born and grew up in Asia, so it's less “research” and more of actually being brought up in the culture itself (particularly Chinese culture, which has a lot of aesthetic similarities to Japanese and Korean). I read Asian fantasies long before I read Western fantasies, so it was very easy to draw on my memories of those without much thought. And damn if recalling those stories didn't bring up a lot of memories of those books and my childhood as I wrote. I think the nostalgia was my favorite part! 

I did research on Middle Eastern culture, particularly during the Ayyubid dynasty, around the time of Saladin's rule, as basis for Odalia. I also read up on a lot of forensic science, though, just to see how decomposition actually works when it comes to writing undead characters. I didn't use as much of that knowledge as I would have liked, but I could probably write a noir / mystery novel somewhere down the road at this point.

3. Was there anything that you learned while writing this book that really surprised you?

It wasn't until I started writing the book that I realized how very different Asian and Western fantasies are. Asian fantasies tend to be panoramic in nature. It reads like movie shots of scenery frequently panning away to express the expansiveness of the world. They tend to be very heavy in volume, too. Romance of the Three Kingdoms, arguably the most famous Chinese epic, had 800,000 words and featured over a thousand characters. Fengshen Yanyi is smaller in scope, but still had over 100 chapters. Western fantasy though, tend to focus on the details rather than take in the overall view. Asian fantasies are slow burns that spend a lot of time crafting the world and the culture because they believe culture is also a character in the books. Western fantasy tends to be impatient when it comes to prose without action. It's a tiny realization, and I only learned that difference when I started writing Asian fantasy myself, despite having read both over many years.

4. What would you like to say to readers who are looking at picking up your books?

The Bone Witch is more than just an Asian YA fantasy about a girl who can raise the dead. It's also about a flawed girl who is forced into a world where certain expectations are required of her, without ever addressing how she feels or what she herself wants. And when those expectations result in her losing everything, this also becomes a story of how she takes charge of her own destiny on her own terms, for good or for ill. It's also about a girl who loves her older brother, about siblings who understand that life is fleeting and that it is important to treasure family bonds while you still have them, before they're changed forever.

5. Finally, give us a book recommendation! Other than your own fabulous book, what is one that you've read recently and loved?

I would very much like to contribute to the love for A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi! Also not something I've read yet, but S.A. Chakraborty's City of Brass sounds like an amazing read – it's based off my favorite story from 1001 Nights, with a female thief as a protagonist!

As with Rin Chupeco's previous books, I have to give a ton of love first and foremost to the cover designer. The Bone Witch stares at you off the shelf and demands that you pay attention to it. It begs you to read the synopsis, and be wooed by it. Then, you'll pick up the book and see that it is about a new world full of monsters, magic, and necromancy. A world where everyone wears their heart around their necks, and witches of all sorts live among the common people. A world where our protagonist finds that she isn't always welcome.

Yes, The Bone Witch definitely started off with a bang for me. The first line is perfection but, more than that, the first few chapters really draw you into the world that Chupeco is building. This story is told in flashbacks, as Tea remembers the child that she once was. It was a stunning way to do things, because you can see the innocence that she used to possess set starkly against the fierce and hardened woman that she is now. Each chapter pushed me further into Tea's life, and I happily followed along.

The one downside to this way of story telling, and I definitely know that this was partially because this is a first book and needs to set the stage, is that it is slow. As I mentioned above, the first few chapters fly by. Tea's abilities come to light, she's torn from everything she once knew, and set onto a path that she never expected to be on. Past that though, a lot of narrative ensues. Things slow down and, quite honestly, I ached for the flashbacks because I wanted more action. I wanted more of my fierce and cold bone witch, and her amazing powers. I wanted less of tea parties and polite conversation.

However, the benefit of telling the story this way is that it sets a detailed stage for the story to come. There are lot of characters introduced that, while they aren't that important this time around, you can tell will make a difference in Tea's further adventures. Since this book focused heavily on Tea's time as an apprentice, I see that she'll be growing into the next story. I can't deny that I was a slight bit disappointed that we missed out on more action, but I'm honestly also still really eager for more. I'll be picking up the next book for sure.


Rin Chupeco wrote obscure manuals for complicated computer programs, talked people out of their money at event shows, and did many other terrible things. She now writes about ghosts and fairy ta-les but is still sometimes mistaken for a revenant. She wrote The Girl from the Well, its sequel, The Suffering, and The Bone Witch, the first book of a new YA Fantasy trilogy. Find her at rinchupeco.com.

Open Internationally 
Please read our Rules and Guidelines in the Rafflecopter 
(1) winner will win a crochet Tea doll and Signed Hard-back copy of The Bone Witch 
(2) winners will win a Bottlecap Necklace and a crochet Tea doll each

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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