The Bone Shard Daughter: ★★★☆☆
Book one in The Drowning Empire series
What is The Bone Shard Daughter?
The Bone Shard Daughter is an adult fantasy debut centred around an empire on the brink of rebellion. The Emperor is using bone shard magic, offering protection in exchange for draining the life out of his people. Lin, his daughter, is trapped in his palace, competing with her brother to collect keys. Frustrated, she begins to learn the forbidden art of bone shard magic.
Jovis, Sand, Phaule and Ranmi are scattered across the globe, all fighting for their own piece of justice and rebellion. In this mysterious fantasy, characters must decide what they are willing to fight for: their own goals, or the empire.
The Bone Shard Daughter is the first instalment in The Drowning Empire series and is split into five perspectives: Lin, Jovis, Sand, Phalue and Ranami.
The Bone Shard Daughter is an interesting one. It’s pitched as a revolution, but it’s a slow burn. The beginning was gripping, packed with intrigue and action and then the plot slowed down, as though events were being delayed for the sequel. Don’t get me wrong, there are twists and turns in the plot, but not enough to mark this as a fast paced debut.
Jovis was my favourite out of the five, a smuggler chasing a boat in the hopes of finding his wife has survived an earthquake that submerges an entire island. With Mephi, his adorable animal companion, it was a joy to see him grow as a character throughout.
Phaule and Ranami’s relationship offered an exploration of class and status which highlighted the harsh reality of finding love on two different sides of the battle field. Ramani loves Phaule, but Phaule is the governors daughter, and her loyalty is tied to his people even if she does not agree with everything he stands for. As the book progressed, I found myself favouring Phaule’s point of view, her struggle with her identity, the weight of her responsibility and the reality of the world were really interesting to explore.
But with five POVs comes the challenge of balancing them all, and unfortunately, I wasn’t very invested in Lin or Sand, who ironically had two of the most interesting plot lines. Their journey is tied with bone magic and mystery, the root of this book is intrigue. However, I found Lin’s chapters especially the hardest to get into.
Revolution, identity, justice, grief and love are at the heart of this book, driving each character to defy society and demand change through forbidden magic, rebellions and smuggling. It starts off with promise, and there is the potential for so much chaos, action and adventure, but as the book progressed I felt as though we were being held back, forced to wait for another instalment to get the answers we craved.
The magic system is based upon bone shard magic. The emperor builds constructs from dead animals, and each citizen has to offer a shard of their bone from a young age to power them. The people are told they will be kept safe, but if their shard is used they rapidly weaken before dying, a double edged sword.
The Bone Shard Daughter has a complex mystery at its core, forcing readers to work out how these five characters all fit together. Sand offered a lot of questions that went unanswered, Jovis chased the truth and Lin discovered world shattering revelations. All the questions have led to speculation and theories, some I guessed correctly, others still unknown. With the sequel set to be released in November 2021, I’m looking forward to learning more about this magical world.
Overall, The Bone Shard Daughter was an interesting read but the slow pace let it down a little. I really wanted to love this one, but I found myself flying through some parts and struggling through the rest. I loved Jovis and Mephi, and the ending has left me with enough questions to want to pick up the sequel. If you’re looking to read an adult Fantasy that is easy to follow, is multi pov, centred around a rebellion with underdogs, then pick this one up.
“And that was the worst thing about this grief – not just knowing that she was gone, but knowing that eventually new memories and experiences would layer on top of them, making the distance between us ever wider.
Have you read The Bone Shard Daughter? Let me know what you think in the comments down below!
Thank you so much for reading!
Until next time,
Nicole / HalfWildBooks