Book Review: The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

The Bone Shard Daughter

Author: Andrea Stewart

Publication Date: 08 September 2020

Genre: Adult Fiction – Dark Fantasy

Pages: 448

Publisher: Orbit

In an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne. The Bone Shard Daughter marks the debut of a major new voice in epic fantasy.

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.

I’ll be honest, I think this is one of those times that a book blurb actually undersells a book. I went into The Bone Shard Daughter expecting the story to only revolve around Lin and this bone shard magic. Don’t get me wrong, I found that storyline intriguing BUT this story is so much more than that!

The narration alternates between the POVs of five different characters:

  • Lin, the daughter of the Emperor. Lin lost the majority of her memories five years prior due to a sickness, which her father is constantly disappointed by. To make matters worse, Lin must compete with her foster brother Bayan to prove to her father that she is capable of wielding bone shard magic and one day becoming emperor.
  • Jovis, a half-Empirean, half-Poyer smuggler and expert sailor who is on a mission to find his wife who has been missing for the last seven years. His mission keeps getting sidetracked as parents keep begging him to rescue their children from the horrific tithing festivals. He also has an adorable pet companion named Mephi, who is the absolute best.
  • Phalue, the daughter of one of the island’s governors and is a professionally trained badass that I would never want to go head to head with.
  • Ranami, Phalue’s girlfriend and a member of the rebellion that is trying to overthrow Phalue’s father.
  • Sand, a woman who is missing her memories on an island of full of people who are also missing their memories

This may sound like a lot, but each of the characters are fully developed and have a unique voice that moving between each of their chapters was seamless. Lin and Jovis have the most page time of the five characters, but each of their stories was compelling and added a layer of complexity that enhanced the overall story.

I won’t be able to address everything that I loved in this book so here are some of the highlights:

The established sapphic relationship! Phalue and Ranami have been together for years. Phalue has tried to propose to Ranami a number of times, but Ranami constantly refuses because she doesn’t want to be a governor’s wife. What I loved most about their relationship was that is was completely normalized within society. The governor being a female and taking a wife was not something that needed to be addressed.

The bone shard magic and the constructs. All citizens must give a shard from their skull as children to the Emperor. In turn, the Emperor uses the shards to power constructs (from parts of dead animals) to maintain order and protect the people from the threat of an ancient civilization (the Alanga). Everything surrounding the constructs and bone shard magic is dark, insidious, and downright creepy.

The world building. The world building in this one is both lush and vivid, which made for an immersive reading experience.

The plot does slow down a bit in the middle as we get into the nitty gritty of the politics at play. I still found this part interesting, but I think that some readers may struggle with that section. However, the last 100 pages of this book is NONSTOP plot twists and revelations. I flew threw that section.

Overall, this is a solid start to The Drowning Empire trilogy, and based off of that ending, I am DYING to see what happens next in book two.

Thank you to Orbit Books for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

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