The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire #1) by Andrea Stewart

Fantasy, 438 pages, published in 2020

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.
[Goodreads]

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content Warnings: general violence

This book totally took me by surprise! I was expecting to enjoy it, but it was totally not what I was expecting and I still really enjoyed it.

The books follows five different points of view. The main character is Lin, who has lost her memory and is trying to get it back in order to be her father, the Emperor’s, heir. Jovis is searching for his missing wife when he gets roped into saving children. Lin and Jovis seem pretty unrelated and in way different parts of the world for most of the book. I didn’t have an issue with this, because I thought both of their stories were interesting.

Phalue and Ranami are two side characters who have a more minor role in this book. Phalue is the governor’s daughter, so she believes in what the government tells her, while her girlfriend, Ranami, sees the reality of the world around them. I thought their points of view were interesting, but definitely painful at times when Phalue couldn’t budge on her opinions.

The final point of view was from a woman named Sand, who doesn’t remember anything and is out in the middle of nowhere.

Jovis and Lin were written in first person, while Phalue, Ranami, and Sand were written in third. I actually didn’t even notice this until I saw someone point it out! Obviously, it didn’t bother me, but I don’t normally get bothered by things like that.

The magic in this world uses shards of bones that are required to be taken from the citizens of the empire to create new creatures that will follow commands of varying degrees. I thought that the way the magic worked, what it could do, and what cost it had was so very cool and well-thought out! It’s definitely something I am going to be looking forward to seeing more of in the upcoming books.

There were definitely some heart-breaking moments in this story. Things could be pretty brutal and there are definitely scenes that I think about, even a few weeks after finishing this book.

In my content warning, I did say that there was general violence, but this book did get quite dark in a way that’s hard to describe. There were people doing things that were morally not good, so it definitely gave the book an overall dark and creepy atmosphere

I’m so excited for the next book! I can’t wait to see more of the magic, the world, and the characters! There was a ton of stuff that happened in this book that has very interesting implications for the next books.

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