Sunday, February 7, 2021

Review: Crown of Bones by A.K. Wilder

by A.K. Wilder
Release Date: January 5th 2021
2021 Entangled Teen
Kindle Edition; 490 Pages
ISBN: 978-1640634145
ASIN: B07N6596NG
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / YA
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

In a world on the brink of the next Great Dying, no amount of training can prepare us for what is to come …

A young heir will raise the most powerful phantom in all of Baiseen.

A dangerous High Savant will do anything to control the nine realms.

A mysterious and deadly Mar race will steal children into the sea.

And a handsome guide with far too many secrets will make me fall in love.

My name is Ash. A lowly scribe meant to observe and record. And yet I think I’m destined to surprise us all.
My Thoughts
Crown of Bones was a pleasant surprise, and is full of adventure, character growth, and surprises.  I started reading it because I was in the middle of some heavy-hitting non-fiction books and needed something lighter to read, but enjoyed it so much, I read it straight through.  The magic system is different, and original, but quite easy to follow, and I always enjoy stories when a quest is involved; in this case a young heir needed to get to the Sacred Isle of Aku before the doors closed for the year as this was the last chance his father was giving him to prove himself worthy.  Naturally, many things went wrong on the journey and it was a fight to get there on time. I actually thought the journey would take up the entire book, but to my surprise, the real stuff actually happened once they arrived, and I was riveted.
Ash is definitely my favourite character in this book.  As a non-savant, she has no powers; therefore, she has spent her life learning how to be a recorder which basically means she is a historian / writer all wrapped into one.  It's a bit more complicated than that, but I found her skills and her abilities to be quite complex and interesting, and the more I learned, the more interested I was.  I totally empathized with her yearning to be a 'savant', to have the same powers as the others, and the helplessness she felt against the prejudice she received because of her lack of magical ability.  The fact that others don't appreciate her vast store of knowledge is sad and shows a culture that puts too much emphasis on physical power rather than brain power, and this will be their detriment in the end.  Ash shows herself to be brave, bold, and extremely loyal, and I love those qualities about her.
Kaylin is another favourite of mine and his appearance in the book throws off the whole dynamics of the group and really upsets the whole story line, which I loved.  I spent the rest of the book trying to figure out whether he was good or evil, enjoying every minute of that dilemma.  He is the character that makes you question everything that is going on and I liked that about him. It also made me realize I needed to pay a lot more attention to dialogue as so much was given away in even small little situations that would be important later; kudos to the author for doing this as I didn't realize until much later how  much manipulation she did through even simple things.  Pay attention to everything people!!
The plot itself was constructed very well, and the author certainly put her characters through their paces.  I have no problem being confused at the beginning of a book as I can't stand it when an author goes on and on trying to explain their world as I prefer to figure it out on my own. (I mean, have any of you read Malazan?) As soon as they left their homeland, they had one adventure after another, each one more dangerous until they reached their destination.  Even their adventures were important as I learned later one, but how, I still don't know as the author just teased that information in this book without giving us answers and all I know at this point has to do with a prophecy and sun alignments. I do have to say that I was a bit surprised at some of the scenes, but I like that the author didn't hold back on those: I think it's the adult author trying not to cross those lines in a young adult fantasy novel, but you could still feel the sexual tension and I am glad we got a good glimpse of the chaos and destruction that comes about during an attack.  Just because it's young adult doesn't mean things have to be sugar-coated. To be honest, I wish it had gone more the other way and not been so limited.  However, I will never, ever, ever, be a fan of instalove.  Never!
Crown of Bones was a fun and interesting story about friendship, loyalty, perseverance, determination, and treachery.  I enjoyed the characters, the world-building, and the plot, but I do have a million questions left unanswered, and that cliffhanger of an ending...well, dang!!  I highly recommend this book for those of you who enjoy good world-building, great dialogue, an interesting magic system, and fun characters.  Can't wait until the next book is published later this year.