review: the shadowglass, the conclusion to one of my favorite fantasy trilogies

the shadow glassTitle: The Shadowglass
Series: The Bone Witch #3
Author: Rin Chupeco
Published in 2019 by Sourcebooks Fire

I won’t provide a synopsis because this is the third book in the trilogy and would contain spoilers for the previous instalments. If you want to read the premise of The Shadowglass, you can click on the title above or the cover, which will take you to the Goodreads page.

My review on the first book, The Bone Witch.

 

 

my thoughts on june 19

The Shadow Glass was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019, and one of the only books I pre-ordered. I’ve been in love with this trilogy ever since receiving an e-ARC of the first book in 2016. I was both excited and scared to read this conclusion, because it would wrap up one of my favorite stories. Would it be a good ending? I’m happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed by this book at all.

Obviously, I can’t say much (or anything at all really) about the plot or storyline of the book because it would spoil the events of the previous two novels. I’ll keep it very general and abstract for you.

I absolutely love the twists and turns in this story. Throughout this entire trilogy, I found myself doubting every character and interaction. I didn’t know who to trust, much like Tea doesn’t know who she can rely on. I was taken by surprise multiple times throughout this book, which doesn’t happen all that often anymore. It was a wild ride, and I even shed a few tears at some point.

That is the nature of tyranny, young Tea. Maintaining power is their sole intention. Why worry about retaliation and revolution when they have always intended to wield the sword?

What makes this trilogy stand out to me are the characters. They’re all so well-developed, given their own time, and have their strengths and flaws.

Tea is a badass woman, but she isn’t infallible either.

“We all admired her, Knox.” Lord Besserly raised his glass. “Let’s raise our glasses to the Dark asha. As strong and mighty as we are, able warriors one and all – may nothing we do piss her off.”

She’s way too impulsive and emotional at times, which leads to rash decision making. The great part is that she’s very aware of her personality flaws and they don’t overtake the story – if that makes sense. Love, family, and friendship are incredibly important to her, which shows in the way she treats her friends. She’d do absolutely anything for them. While she has a strong sense of duty, she won’t let it overshadow her humanity, or her as a person.

“I am selfish. I am not the compassionate woman she is. Sometimes I feel she is far too kind for her own good. I will serve the kingdoms, but not at the cost of my health.”

Another character I want to bundle up in a blanket and protect forever is Likh. In the entire trilogy, we’ve seen how fluid gender is through Likh’s story. While the rest of the world considers Likh a boy, she has always been drawn to the asha (female witches) over the Deathseekers (males capable of drawing runes and magic). Likh loves the intricate hua of the asha, the way they perform and carry themselves. In The Shadowglass, we see Likh realize which pronouns actually fit her and how she explains it to the others. Seeing this transition, this realization and acceptance, was wonderful.

Aside from gender, there’s also diversity in terms of sexuality. There’s an f/f relationship I absolutely adore, but I feel is more prominent in the second book rather than the third. There’s a male character who is primarily attracted to other men as well.

If you haven’t read this trilogy yet, please give it a try. I promise it’s worth your time. I’m so happy to say that this Asian-inspired fantasy series written by a Filipino author belongs on my favorites shelf. 

Review: The Bone Witch | Fantasy To Add To Your To-Read List Right Now

Tthe bone witchhe Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco
Release date: 01.03.2017 by Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars – ★★★★.5
Goodreads

I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my opinion in any way.

Synopsis: When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training. In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha — one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.

review

The synopsis describes this book as Memoirs of a Geisha meets The Name of the Wind. I haven’t read Memoirs of a Geisha, so I can’t attest for that. What I can say is that this story is told in a similar manner as The Name of the Wind. There are two timelines: one in the present, and one in the past. Tea, as a 17-year-old, tells her story to a Bard, thus giving us the past timeline starting when she was 13 (I believe).

WORLD

I have to admit that the reason I didn’t give this 5 stars is because I was a tad confused about the world at times. Which kingdoms existed? Who are the rulers? In hindsight, I do admit that was kind of my fault because there is a glossary of the kingdoms with their most significant aspects and rulers at the end. Oops. It cleared up a lot…

This is an Asian-inspired fantasy world, I believe. Sometimes, I find it hard to pick up an influence in a fantasy book. But here, I could definitely notice in the clothing, the food, etc. I really enjoyed it! I especially liked the intricate descriptions of the hua -the traditional clothing of an asha. Each asha has her own, designed especially for her and it is highly frowned upon to wear another asha’s hua. They are designed especially for each asha: the colors are carefully chosen to match their skin tone and hair, the designs have a meaning to each woman.

In this world, there are asha who are women who can wield magic. Yes, only women. The men who can wield magic become Deathseekers (I believe that’s the name). The asha are not just magic wielders, they are also entertainers. They learn to sing, dance, play instruments, talk about politics, etc. They need to be trained however. This is usually done in the Willows, where each asha has a house that supports her -which is called an asha-ka. Tea is brought to House Valerian. In the Willows, there are many different asha-ka, and merchants who sell the special clothes and jewelry to them.

Tea is born and raised in Knightscross, a small farm village in the kingdom of Odalia. When she shows herself to be a Dark asha/bone witch, she is taken to the kingdom of Kion, where the Willows are. There, she is trained as a dark asha so she can fight and defeat the monsters called the daeva. 

The magic in this book is called by using runes. There are several types of runes and magic: Fire, Water, etc. Yet it’s not like every asha only chooses one type. Many are versed in all, yet prefer one. Aside from the Dark asha.

PLOT

I feel like this will be the shortest part of my review, because I want you to discover as much as possible on your own.

Like I said, we follow Tea as she tells her story to the Bard. I actually found myself most intrigued by the Tea in the present timeline, because she seemed so wise, but hardened and disillusioned about the world as well. The story starts when Tea raises her brother from the dead, and spans about 2 years. So we follow her from age 13 to 15, while the present timeline Tea is 17 years old.

I so badly want to know what happened to Tea to get her in that position! I really have to know. Especially after that ending… With one sentence, Rin Chupeco managed to throw me off completely (regarding the: “my love”). I am so scared, because it will be months before this one is released. And then probably around a year more for the next one. HELP ME.

I’ve been having some trouble finishing books lately -I’ve only finished two in the entire month of August. Yet I couldn’t put this one down. I found myself reading whenever I had the smallest amount of spare time -although I took me a little while to get over my confusion about the kingdoms. Pro tip: check the glossary in the back.

CHARACTERS

I’m only going to talk about Tea (which I’m fairly sure is pronounced as Tee-yuh) because she’s the only one mentioned in the synopsis. But rest assured, there are many side characters I absolutely adored/was intrigued by too. I really enjoyed the many friendships she developed over those 2 years.

I really liked Tea’s character. She obviously cares very much for those she considers her friends, whether they are her superior or “subordinate”. I like how she always tries to help them, sometimes coming up with the craziest ideas to do so. She started off as a village girl with many prejudices (as taught to her). But she was shown how prejudiced her thoughts truly were, and tried to work to be more open.

There is such a big difference in Tea as a 13-year-old, and Tea as a 17-year-old. A massive difference. I feel like she has already come a long way in those 2 years, and developed a lot. 15-year-old Tea is much more accepting of others, respectful and smart than 13-year-old Tea. Yet I so badly want to know what happened to her! How did she get so wise, calm, strong yet angry? Maybe angry is not the right word. She is decided. Decided on what needs to be done, on what is right. And I’m intrigued to find out more. 

I love that she addresses equality, prejudice, traditions from different kingdoms and so on. All important topics.

quotes 80c8b0

To be honest, I don’t often include quotes in my reviews. I’m trying to be more diligent about it, and remind myself. With this book, I didn’t need reminders, as there were several quotes that stood out to me. 

Please bear in mind that I took these quotes from an ARC copy, thus they may be subject to change. 

“You think in the same way men drink, Tea,” my father once said, “far too much, under the delusion it is too little.”

The only sight I seem to possess nowadays is hindsight.

“Then perhaps we should carve a world one day where the strength lies in who you are, rather than in what they expect you to be.”.

“This is my new family. This is my new identity. I will be the bone witch the kingdom fears, and I will make them pay.”

There are many other quotes I would like to add, in particular one from one of the last chapters. But I feel like it may be a tiny spoiler on the present timeline, so I won’t. I just want to show you that this book is so quotable. 


I am always scared to recommend books to others. What if they don’t like it? And I am really feeling that fear right now. I absolutely loved this book. Yet it’s months to the release date. I went into this book with little expectations, which I think always helps. I both want to shout from the rooftops that I love this book, and keep the hype from becoming overwhelming.

But I have to be honest and share MY opinion. I really enjoyed this book, and the format it was written in. I liked the world, and the Asian influences I could pick up on. I liked the main character, the friendships and the rivalries that turn into something better. I like that romance is a tad present, but not overwhelming. I liked that the author still managed to surprise me with the last sentence. The only thing I had an “issue” with was the separation of the different kingdoms in my mind. Like I said, it may help to know there is a glossary in the back of the book/ebook.