Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The King of Bones and Ashes

JD Horn
Release Date: January 23rd, 2018

I received an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Reading this book could not have come at a more perfect time for me! I was craving something really autumn-y and early winter-y and witches were on my mind quite a bit. I requested this book way before I realized how badly I wanted a good witch story but I'm so glad I did because it really filled the gap I was looking for. Something I do want to mention before I go further-- I'm pretty sure this is a companion series and not a spinoff series to JD Horn's Witching Savannah series. That one has actually been on my TBR for a while and now I'm more keen than ever to pick it up.

Since it is a companion series there's little to no info-dump world building and I loved that. The reader is immediately thrust into the world and the lives of these witches and not even given that much information on how magic even works or what it can do, but because it plays by pretty familiar "witch-rules" it's pretty unnecessary. The author takes advantage of the pop culture idea of a witch and both plays into that magic system and works their own as they go. The politics between the different groups was also not spelled out for readers, as it shouldn't be, and is unravelled naturally and well. The subtle world building works so well here, also, because it is more urban fantasy than  straight-up paranormal story.

As I tend to say with every review-- it is the characters that make or break a book for me-- and I have to lean towards... they make the book for me. There are several narrators and the one I loved most was Alice. For me she was both the most interesting and most promising in terms of storytelling. The other narrators were good... but there were so many of them! I don't have an issue with multiple narrators (and in fact, I loved all the female power these women narrators had!) but sometimes I had a hard time connecting with them or figuring out why they were really important, or at least important enough to warned POV chapters. That being said, every narrator had a very clear and defined voice that I truly appreciated, as sometimes authors can get bogged down telling the story and not defining character voices. Something I find incredibly interesting is that I often loved the side characters and connected with them more than the main characters (looking at you Lucy, the real MVP of this book) and felt like sometimes they were even more three dimensional than those whose minds we got to peek into. One last note on characters: the diversity among them was so great! It's so lovely to read about women from all types of walks of life, from race to sexuality to class, without feeling like they were forced in there as token's for the white hero.

While the plot was nice and tight, something I always appreciate, it wasn't the driving force of the novel for me. I never forgot what it was, mostly because it was a pretty basic plot, but I was also never quite invested in it the way I wish I could have been. There certainly weren't any tangents and I also appreciated that it took place over such a short period of time while keeping the stakes pretty high, but this is what really kept the book a step away from being truly amazing.
TL;DR If you're looking for something that reads like a good autumn night and features of diverse cast of women, then you've found the perfect book. With a tight plot, easy to understand magic system and world, and really well developed side characters, this one is a keeper. It has a few short falls, but nothing that couldn't be fixed in a sequel.
From the bestselling author of the Witching Savannah series comes the first book in a fascinating trilogy following the quest of a young witch to uncover her family’s terrifying secret history…
Magic is seeping out of the world, leaving the witches who’ve relied on it for countless centuries increasingly hopeless. While some see an inevitable end of their era, others are courting madness—willing to sacrifice former allies, friends, and family to retain the power they covet. While the other witches watch their reality unravel, young Alice Marin is using magic’s waning days to delve into the mystery of numerous disappearances in the occult circles of New Orleans. Alice disappeared once, too—caged in an asylum by blood relatives. Recently freed, she fears her family may be more involved with the growing crisis than she ever dared imagine.
Yet the more she seeks the truth about her family’s troubled history, the more she realizes her already-fragile psyche may be at risk. Discovering the cause of the vanishings, though, could be the only way to escape her mother’s reach while determining the future of all witches.
JD Horn was raised in rural Tennessee, and has since carried a bit of its red clay in him while travelling the world, from Hollywood, to Paris, to Tokyo. He studied comparative literature as an undergrad, focusing on French and Russian in particular. He also holds an MBA in international business and worked as a financial analyst before becoming a novelist. . He and his spouse, Rich, and their pets have settled (at least temporarily) outside Sisters, Oregon.
Cover linked to Goodreads; cover, description, and author bio taken from Goodreads.
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  1. Looks like you enjoyed this one a bit more than I did. I will say though that Alice was my favorite part. :)

    1. Alice was such a great character! I think I was probably just in the perfect mood for this type of book and I doubt it would stand up to a reread. It's a shame you didn't enjoy it as much. Thanks for stopping by!

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