Anybody else have trouble explaining why you loved a book? It’s easy to point out what you dislike about a book, but describing why a book was so good is hard. It’s good because, well, it’s good…? Anyways, I finally read Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie after it sat on a stack of books and notebooks next to my couch for weeks, begging me to pick it up. What can I say, I was worried it wouldn’t be good. Well, good thing I was wrong.
Ailesse has prepared her whole life to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers—a secret group of women who draw strength from animal bones to help them ferry the dead into the afterlife. But in order to become a ferrier, Ailesse must complete her rite of passage by killing her one true love. Bastien’s father was slain by a Bone Crier and Bastien is out for revenge. Sabine has never had the stomach to become a Bone Crier, but she fears failing to live up to the matriarch’s traditions. When Bastien kidnaps Ailesse during her rite of passage ritual—entwining their fates in life and death—Sabine sets out to save her best friend, even if it means defying the Bone Crier traditions before they all die.
First off, the bone magic in this book is So. Freaking. Awesome. The author did such a great job researching animals to give the Bone Criers unique abilities for their graces. I love that some of the animals aren’t your typical woodland creature, but that some of the graces include tiger sharks and dolphins or bats and snakes. Wherever these ideas came from, I am on board for this kind of magic system.
The entire world-building-religion-folklore-magic system was fascinating. I love the idea of these magical ladies ferrying the dead into paradise or the underworld and kicking butt while doing with their animal affinities. It’s such an intriguing concept, and while it was all well explained and simple, as the story unfolded, more layers were added. Secrets and other ideas of how it all works were introduced and it was just fantastic to read.
As for the characters, I wasn’t sure I would like the three different point of views because often in YA books, they aren’t distinct enough to tell the difference between them. But I thought Kathryn did a good job with that and each voice brought its own perspective to the story. I was rooting for all three of them to get what they needed (even if those ideas clashed!) to become stronger than they were before. It was empowering to read about each of them and how their opinions and ideas alter over the course of the story.
Other than the magic system, though, I love how much twists and turns this book took. The “back cover” synopsis doesn’t quite do justice to the story because some of that is resolved pretty early into the story. The book is much bigger than a single conflict. There are so many secrets about what’s really happening that some of those revelations stole my breath. I love when a story has a good twist, even if I see some of them coming. This one had a lot and they all build upon one another for that ending. Because dang, that ending. I really need book two!
I am so relieved that this book avoids a lot of the YA fantasy tropes that make me want to roll my eyes or toss the book aside. The romance does feel a bit insta-y, but since Ailesse and Bastien are supposedly “destined” for one another, I let it slide.
Bone Crier’s Moon was fresh and magical and swoon-worthy (and not just because of that gorgeous cover!). It had heroic characters that you want to root for and magic that just thrives alongside the other elements. I’m definitely counting down the days for book two’s release!