Review

ARC Review: The Bone Maker

Twenty-five years ago, they were known as the great Heroes of Vos. Together, all five stood against an army of unnatural constructs and their maker, the evil Eklor. Together, they fought, and one of them fell.

Now, the Heroes have broken apart, all going their own ways. Kreya, the leader, lost everything when her husband fell on the plains. Now, she dedicates every spare moment to reading through Eklor’s research, trying to find a way to resurrect her husband, to bring back some of the life they used to have before he died. Kreya knows that for him to live, she has to give up part of her own life, but the sacrifice doesn’t matter. She’s willing to do it. But when she begins to seek out more components for her spell, she learns that Vos may still be under threat, and the heroes might have to come back and save it once again. The only problem is, not only is one of them dead, but the others have spent so much time apart, they’ve changed and grown into different people. Can the five heroes come together and save their country, again?

I received an advanced reading copy of The Bone Maker in exchange for an honest review.

By now, the name Sarah Beth Durst should be familiar to you, if you’ve been following my blog for a while. Sarah Beth Durst is the author of several fantasy novels, and I’ve read quite a few at them at this point, and reviewed them all on this blog. She wrote the Queens of Renthia series, the standalone Race the Sands, and now, The Bone Maker. I was excited when I heard about the adult fantasy novel The Bone Maker, since I’ve grown to be quite a fan of Durst’s, so I was incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to read an advanced reading copy of it! So, what did I think?

First of all, I absolutely loved the concept of all the events of The Bone Maker taking place about twenty-five years after Kreya and her gang defeated the big bad. So many novels talk about the moments where the heroes first come together, when they face insurmountable odds, and manage to defeat evil, potentially losing some of them along the way. But I almost never come across a book that talks about the heroes after they’ve survived. After all, the heroes are mostly young when they first go up against the bad guy, and they still have so much life ahead of them. What happens after is the question that Durst is seeking to answer in this novel, and it really delivers.

We have everything here: the one who refuses to move on from what’s happened, trying to return. We have the one who’s capitalized on their reputation as a hero. We have one who quite literally died during the last battle. We have one who’s gone insane. And we have one who’s moved on and now lives a quiet life, nice and content. I won’t go into too much detail on who was who, but I appreciated seeing all of these reactions to some very intense past trauma, and how the events from so long ago continue to influence their lives, even the lives of the more well-adjusted ones. But, I especially loved seeing how the others, the less well-adjusted, were trying to fit into a world they hadn’t been sure they could save.

Each character here stands out to me. Kreya, of course, is our main character. She will do absolutely anything to bring Jantt, her husband, back to life, even if it means breaking laws of nature and society both. I really identified with Kreya, actually. Everything she did, it made sense, and I felt for every one of her losses, and got excited at her victories. I loved her as a main character, and I especially loved her relationship with Zera, who I actually also sort of consider a main character. She doesn’t get as much of a limelight as Kreya, but she gets several chapters from her POV, and she managed to straddle the line between cockiness and hilarity, while also able to stand up to the friend who abandoned her in the midst of battle. I just love these two women, guys.

The other characters were also all amazing. They were strong in so many different ways, and I loved seeing as they worked to put themselves back together, bit by bit, all the while knowing that their world needed them to save it, again.

In fact, I’d call the characters here the star of the book. That’s not to say that the world and plot aren’t great. I’m also a huge fan of the magic system that Durst created here. Using bones to make magic? So delightfully macabre but cool! As for other elements of the world, I appreciated the dangers of it in certain sections, and they certainly helped highlight the tension in some areas, but they soon sort of faded into the background.

And I guess here is where I should get into the plot. The book was exciting! Very much so! I read the last third of the book in a single sitting; I couldn’t put it down! I guess I just felt a bit confused sometimes over where the plot was going. I kept expecting the plot to go one way, and then it went another. That’s not a bad thing! I liked that it kept me guessing, I just wish that it had felt more like a single plot than two to three different storylines, each with its own act. I actually think the book could have been expanded to a series, now that I think about the storylines of each act, but I’m definitely grateful that it’s a standalone because I don’t really have time to add another series to my list. I guess I should also mention that I’ll basically read anything Durst writes, so adding more books to that already-long list just makes my life harder (but probably more fun)!

I’d recommend this book to fantasy fans, especially those who wonder “what happens next?” when the heroes walk off the battlefield, having miraculously survived the fight against the enemy. This book is a fantastic answer to what happens to them, and a great adventure for any reader.

The Bone Maker will be released on March 9. You can pre-order your copy from Harper Voyager at this link.

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