The Bone Shard Daughter is the debut fantasy novel by author Andrea Stewart, published in 2020. Set in the mysterious island empire of Aramatheia, the book introduces us to a unique and fascinating magic system based around bone shard crafting as well as a great cast of complex characters. I absolutely devoured this book and can’t wait for the sequel!
|Title||The Bone Shard Daughter|
|Publication Date||September 8, 2020|
Where to Purchase
Introduction and Plot Summary
The Bone Shard Daughter follows the story of Lin, the emperor’s daughter, who has no memory of her life before age eight. In Aramatheia, the emperor maintains power through “bone shard magic”, where royal children like Lin have animal companions bound to them whose bones are turned into shards that provide magical abilities. However, Lin’s own bone shard crafting talents are lackluster compared to her siblings. Meanwhile, the emperor is preparing for a mysterious ritual that will require a staggering amount of bone shard energy.
When Lin learns disturbing information about the ritual from her father’s mistress, she is forced to flee the palace. As she journeys across Aramatheia, Lin encounters other compelling characters like a mining apprentice named Jovis and a mysterious nun named Phalue. Lin tries to learn the truth behind the ritual while also striving to reclaim her lost memories and discover her own source of power.
My Thoughts on Worldbuilding and Magic System
One of the standout aspects of The Bone Shard Daughter is definitely the worldbuilding. Stewart paints a vivid picture of the islands and culture of Aramatheia, blending elements of Asian influences into the fantasy setting. There’s a hierarchical society and geisha-like entertainers, contrasted with the gritty lives of miners. The lore and history of the world is slowly revealed during Lin’s journey.
At the heart of the worldbuilding is the bone shard magic system, which I found highly original. The idea of harvesting animal bones to gain powers is morbid but fascinating. Stewart explains the rules and limitations behind bone shard crafting in logical detail, keeping it feeling fresh yet believable for a fantasy setting. Each character’s bone shards and resulting abilities feel integral to their identities. The magic also ties directly into the emperor’s mysterious ritual, raising the stakes.
Complex and Relatable Characters
While the worldbuilding is great, it’s the characters that really shine in The Bone Shard Daughter. Lin is the perfect balance of vulnerable and tough, courageous yet flawed. I sympathized with her struggle to reclaim her memories and sense of self when she’s been lied to all her life. Her personality contrasts nicely with the cynical smuggler Jovis, who starts off selfish but becomes more devoted to Lin’s quest. Even side characters like Lin’s siblings and the mysterious nun Phalue are complex, with shifting motivations.
With the emperor, Stewart also succeeds in creating a villain who is menacing yet nuanced. His POV chapters reveal his own justifications and paternal love for Lin that make him more than a one-note bad guy, despite his sinister ritual plans. I’m very invested in these characters and can’t wait to see them develop further in the sequels.
Pacing and Storytelling
For a hefty 500+ page tome, the pacing in The Bone Shard Daughter remains tight and propulsive. The story alternates between Lin’s POV and other key characters like Jovis and the emperor. Stewart balances the right amount of action scenes, emotional character moments, and worldbuilding exposition. Despite its epic fantasy scope, the book retains an intimate, personal feel following Lin’s coming-of-age journey. There are enough twists and revelations about Lin’s past and the emperor’s plans to keep me guessing.
The storytelling kept me engaged the whole way through. Stewart’s writing style is cinematic and immersive, like the island of Aramatheia came alive in my mind. The book ends on a cliffhanger making me eager for the sequel, but with a satisfying emotional arc for Lin after all she endures. Overall, it was a highly entertaining and binge-worthy read.
The Bone Shard Daughter deserves the buzz it has gotten as a successful fantasy debut. Stewart introduces an intricate new world with compelling characters and an inventive magic system that provided a fresh take on the genre for me. I’d highly recommend it for any fantasy fan looking for their next engrossing read. With its bold storytelling and imaginative worldbuilding, this is a series I’ll certainly be following. The Bone Shard Daughter left me spellbound and eager to return to the islands of Aramatheia again soon.