“The Shadow Glass (The Bone Witch Book 3)” by Rin Chupeco. Naperville, Ill.: Sourcebooks Fire, 2019. 480 pages, $17.99 (hardcover).
“The Asha of the Eight Kingdoms holds the most influence because of their elemental magic. However, only the bone witches can raise the dead. This is seen as dark magic, and Tea has used this to breathe life into those she has lost and those who will join her army and her cause. Tea’s quest to conjure shadow glass may consume her, but her ultimate goal is to breathe life in the one that she loves the most in the world. As her heartsglass grows darker, the world sees her as a villain. Her work with the azi, and her desire to unmask the Faceless, drive her down a road that others cannot see. Tea is haunted by blackouts and visions, and, when she wakes with blood on her hands, she races to find the answers. Tea’s life – and the fate of the Eight Kingdoms – hangs in the balance.”
This is an excellent conclusion to the series. The characters continue to grow in this book, there is never a dull moment and the concluding twist to the story is excellent.
My No. 1 point of advice is to be sure to have recently read the previous two books. With some series, you can just pick up the book and continue the story without a problem. With this one, there are just too many plots and small details that are relevant to the whole. The whole series is complex, and the third book is a good length. If you pick it up and haven’t read the series since the second one came out, you are going to be lost in some confusion.
This story is told from two viewpoints. Half is told from the present-day setting from the point of view of a bard. The other viewpoint is from the past and is from Tea herself, from the letters she has given the bard to tell her story. Varying viewpoints from different timelines are difficult to pull off, but somehow it is one of the things that makes this story. If told from the past (as if from the present), the story would have taken much longer and not had the same kind of impact. Told from both sides, it is more powerful in the drive home, and when the two timelines finally merge together.
While this book is not driven mainly by the romances (it is so much more than a love story), the romance itself is powerful. Tea and Kalen are my favorite kind of romance – it is not love at first sight, and they grow to love each other for who they are as individuals and as friends. It is a rocky road but one that is rewarding, and in the end it helps Tea become who she needs to be and gives her the drive to be the force that will change the world. Her brother’s romance (Fox) is also important to the story and to Tea’s motivation.
Fox and Tea are another aspect that help this story have multiple facets. Tea loves her brother, and that love is what made her show her powers in the very beginning. This love drives many of the decisions she makes, and also her hunt for something more and the truth. The power of family bonds should never be doubted, as well as the tragedy that can come from falling out with one another. I appreciated the importance that their relationship had to the story, even when Tea did not speak as often with the rest of her family. Family dynamics can be so much more than just love and hate.
Love itself has many facets within this series, and gender representation and the differences there are also well shown. Likh is one of my favorite characters throughout the story, with her discovery of how fluid gender can be. There is never enough representation in literature, and the inclusion here is seamless to the story but also helps propel the overarching themes. The characters in the story fight for Likh’s rights, and they also work to help her discover herself and who she truly is. I admire her courage, and the author for including it.
The themes throughout this series deal with fixing a broken world, challenging others when you know something is wrong and standing up for what you believe. It is also a story of family love, romantic love and friendship. Tea would not be able to accomplish what she does throughout without her friends’ help. They stand loyal to her and even in the end know there must be more to the story. They fight for her and by her side to discover the truth and fix a broken system.
As often as I read, it is hard to surprise me with where a plot will go in the end. This book does just that. I did not see the overarching villain at all, and I also did not see the plot twists that were coming. It was utterly fantastic. The ending was not at all what I expected, and I loved it all the more for it.
If you have read none of this series, please do so immediately. Between the Asian culture influences and the fantasy elements with the magic and the resurrection of the dead, it is a work of written art. I had tears as I read the end of this series, and I look forward to Chupeco’s other writings.
As a sidenote – the covers to all three books are simply amazing. This is one time when you can judge the book by the cover!
– Reviewed by Fallon Willoughby, first-year experience instructor, Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College.