The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.



A member of the ‘everyone in my blogging circle screams about this one so I must read it too’, Bone Shard Daughter was a delight to read! The creative grotesque shard constructs, the creative computer-science-y magic system, and the Asian-inspired worldbuilding I can’t wait to learn more of in book 2!

What I remember hearing the most from various friends was the ingenious worldbuilding and having finally finished the book, I really must agree. The Bone Shard Daughter takes place in an empire consisting of a series of islands. The East Asian influences are delightfully strong, everything from the names to the delicious foods described and not-as-delicious scents (decayed fishy ocean scent is not nearly as nice as books make it seem). The Alanga, a defeated people citizens believe are gone and dead, hold a strong influence over the country with their ruins and whispered rumors. With the multiple POVs throughout this story, we cover everywhere from the Imperial Island to little backwater regions and Stewart really brings this entire country to life.

Along with the worldbuilding is the magic system, both with the gruesome acquisition and the really creative, ‘programming’ like application. It’s equally awesome and horrifying that this bone shard magic is fueled by the bone shards of the empire’s own citizens. I don’t remember whether it was specified why the shards must come from the back of the skull, but the concept is just sooo cool (even if the 1-in-25 death rate is, well, less cool). The magic itself, linking together simple commands to power almost human-like constructs, is such an interesting concept to see in fantasy. I do wish more of the mechanics were shown (and that Lin got more screentime), but hopefully we get more in book 2.

Speaking of Lin, oh my favorite character Lin. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator does a phenomenal job giving her this soft spoken, quiet yet determined voice (in contrast to Jovis’s brash confidence). Her personal arc, sneaking away bits of information to learn her father’s bone shard magic, finding ways to wrest power from her father’s failing rule, all while fighting the inner turmoil over her identity due to amnesia, was the most compelling POV for me. I had so much fun texting friends with my wild theories as I read, some of which turned out to be surprisingly close to the truth!

Of the other POVs, I really like both Jovis’s and Sand’s, for entirely different reasons. Jovis provided the comic relief while being the link between all the other characters, traveling from island to island searching for his missing wife, adorable mascot Melphie in tow. Jovis gives strong Han Solo/Flynn Rider vibes, the morally ambiguous outlaw forcibly dragged into the plot by his secret heart of gold. Sand’s POV, on the other hand, is almost entirely isolated from the other characters. Her arc almost feels like a horror story, finding herself trapped on an island where every seems to be brainwashed. Without giving spoilers, I’ll say her POV tripped me up the most when trying to formulate theories. Finally this leaves Phalue and Ranami, who, despite being probably the most important characters plot wise, were to me the most interesting. I just wanted to get back to Lin’s bone shard magic, not read about overthrowing empires for a change.

Overall, I rate this book a 4/5. The characters, worldbuilding and magic system were all extremely well written. I had a ton of fun DMing friends with my wild wild theories and I’m extremely excited to learn more of this world’s history in book 2.

r/Fantasy 2021-22 Bingo Squares:

  • Set in Asia (hard mode)
  • 1st Person POV
  • Mystery Plot (hard mode)
  • Debut Author (hard mode)

Publication Date: 8 September 2020
Publisher: Orbit
Format: audiobook
Pages: 438
Word Count: ~158,000
ISBN: 0316541427 
Buy It Here: Amazon | Google Books | Barnes and Nobles | Goodreads

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