Saturday, March 6, 2021

ARC Review: The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst

The Bone Maker

Sarah Beth Durst
Publication: Harper Voyager (March 9, 2021)

Description: From award-winning author Sarah Beth Durst, a standalone epic fantasy set in a brand-new world of towering mountains and sparkling cities, in which a band of aging warriors have a second chance to defeat dark magic and avenge a haunting loss.

Twenty-five years ago, five heroes risked their lives to defeat the bone maker Eklor—a corrupt magician who created an inhuman army using animal bones. But victory came at a tragic price. Only four of the heroes survived.

Since then, Kreya, the group’s leader, has exiled herself to a remote tower and devoted herself to one purpose: resurrecting her dead husband. But such a task requires both a cache of human bones and a sacrifice—for each day he lives, she will live one less.

She’d rather live one year with her husband than a hundred without him, but using human bones for magic is illegal in Vos. The dead are burned—as are any bone workers who violate the law. Yet Kreya knows where she can find the bones she needs: the battlefield where her husband and countless others lost their lives.

But defying the laws of the land exposes a terrible possibility. Maybe the dead don’t rest in peace after all.

Five warriors—one broken, one gone soft, one pursuing a simple life, one stuck in the past, and one who should dead. Their story should have been finished. But evil doesn’t stop just because someone once said, “the end.”

My Thoughts: THE BONE MAKER asks what happens after the heroic actions, the adulation, and the fame and after the story should be ended. Five people defeated an evil bone maker named Eklor twenty-five years earlier and then went their separate ways. 

Jentt, who was the thief, died during the battle leaving his wife Kreya who was the group's leader bereft but determined to get her husband back. Zera returned to the seat of power and used her talents as a bone wizard to become rich but not happy. Marso was the bone reader. He couldn't deal with his visions after the battles were over and is now struggling to live. Stren was the warrior who managed to build a new life with a wife and children after the battle was over.

Kreya was a bone maker who could use bone to animate the inanimate. Since the battle, she has been studying books about the bone makers art because she was determined to find a way to make her husband live again. She needs bones and her blood to work her spell. But bones are not easy to come by. In fact, there is a major taboo in the society about bones which causes all who die to be burned to ash. 

Kreya knows one possible source of bones - the battlefield where they defeated Eklor. But she needs help to get there. She tracks down Zera to make some of the talismans she needs if she is going to get the bones to reanimate her beloved Jentt. But Zera and Kreya discover something horrible on the battlefield. Eklor is still alive and still making the monsters that almost gave him victory in the last battle.

They need to get their original group back together to convince the leader of the Guild the Eklor is back and that new heroes need to be found to defeat him again. Only there are major problems with this plan...

I loved the storytelling. The worldbuilding was intriguing and the characters well-rounded. I liked the mythology. I liked Kreya's willingness to pay any cost to get her husband back even it it meant defying every taboo and breaking any law. There was a lot of philosophy in this story about the costs of choices and the consequences of them. 

Fans of intriguing fantasy about what happens after "the end" will enjoy this thought-provoking story.

Favorite Quote:
Maybe there were no perfect choices for anyone to make, hero or villain. Maybe there was only doing the best you could with the time you had. That was an unsatisfying thought, but just because it was uncomfortable didn't mean it wasn't true.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley (via the author). You can buy your copy here.

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