Book Review – 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.


The Empire calls this a peaceful reign. The people disagree. They are scared, knowing that once their ‘Bone Shard’ gets put to use into one of the Emperors constructs their lives will start declining. Lin, the Emperors daughter believes there must be a better way to protect the Empire, one that does not put its people at risk. She constantly wants for her fathers attention but her inability to remember her past seems to continue to make him angry. She also has to contend with Bayan, her fathers adopted son who is also vying for the throne. It isn’t until Lin finds a hidden diary that has her missing memories that she starts putting the pieces of the mystery of her life together. Only she isn’t ready to find the truth, a truth that could destroy the Empire, or unite it.

Jovis is a well known smuggler of goods, he spends his days trying to sneak beneath the notice of the Ioph Carn and constantly searching for a Boat with blue sails, one he saw in the distance on the day his wife disappeared. Only after a devastating natural event he finds himself getting drawn more and more to the good side when people start seeking his help smuggling children from the tithing ceremony. Along with his animal sidekick Mephi, a creature he tries to save from drowning that quickly inserts itself into his life, Jovis finds himself reluctantly helping the rebellion in their bid to overthrow the Empire. But there is more to Mephi, and indeed Jovis than meets the eye and though they don’t realise it, their story is just beginning.

Phalue is the daughter of a Governor. She may not agree with her fathers politics, or the way he treats his people, but she is reluctant to stand up to him and challenge his ways. That is until she meets Ranami. Ranami knows that the people could have better lives, and she is willing to fight for that. Through Ranami, Phalue gets dragged into the rebellion who try to convince her to usurp her father. But both Phalue and Ranami don’t quite know who they are getting into business with, and the true danger might be closer than they think. Ranami and Phalue both have separate POV’s but their story lines are entwined through most of the book.

Sand collects the Mangoes. Or at least that’s what she has done every day she has been on the Island. She doesn’t know anything of her life before, or even if she had one. But one day that changes, she falls from a tree and starts to remember things, things from before the Island, things that she can’t explain. Once she starts to question the Island others do as well, until they come to realise that they haven’t always been here, and they want to go back. All of these story lines are entwined to make for one epic novel filled with a truly masterful magic system, and plot twists that take your breath away.

I already said the magic system in ‘Bone Shard Daughter’ was unique, but I have truly read nothing like it. Years ago the Empire defeated the Alanga bringing peace to the Empire. A peace that is kept by the Emperors ‘constructs’ creatures made from the parts of animals and brought to life by ‘bone shards’. Every year the Empire run a ‘tithing’ ceremony where children of age are herded together and a small portion of bone is taken from their skull. However, once your ‘Bone Shard’ is put to use in a construct, your life is forfeit. It may take days, months, years but eventually you will succumb to the bone sickness, the shard will drain the life out of you and you will die. The Emperor see’s this as a tiny price to pay for freedom and peace, the people disagree. The magic was like nothing I had ever read and, although in some parts it got a little icky, I was wholly engrossed by it.

Through the five POV’s we get to travel a good portion of the Empire and Stewart’s world building was, simply put, epic. Her descriptive writing drags you straight into the story, the action literally jumps from the page and it is not at all hard to put yourself into the storytellers shoes and imagine yourself on the journey alongside them. The start of the book was a little slower going, but once we were introduced to the characters and the world I found myself flying through the pages. Unlike some multiple POV books I’ve read every single one had me hooked, sometimes I find ones whose story line I don’t find as interesting as the rest, but with Bone Shard Daughter every single character has such an important part in telling the story that you are glued to every page.

There are plenty of twists and turns in this book. Some we get clues to from the beginning; Who is Sand? Why doesn’t Lin remember her childhood? And though those questions both play a huge part in the plot, the author still manages to hit us with some WTF moments. There are plenty of grip the page, white knuckle action moments, as well as the simple day to day life moments and I thought the author got the balance of these really well. I think it’s safe to say I adored this book, in fact it’s my most recent 5* read and after the climactic ending I am highly anticipating the sequel.

5 replies »

  1. You beat me to this one. Then again everyone is going to beat me to most of September, which *maybe* I get to next September. But your review makes it sound like I need to get to it sooner rather than later because– man, with this month, though.


  2. Fab review, Becky! This one sounds amazing and so many of the reviews I’ve seen for this book have all raved about it. The magic in this world sounds so unique and definitely unlike anything I’ve read before. So exciting 🤩 Can’t wait to read this!

    Liked by 1 person

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