The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst is an amazing stand-alone adult fantasy. If you’ve ever wondered what happens to the survivors of epic fantasy battles, The Bone Maker is the book for you.
Twenty-five years ago, 5 bone heroes fought a corrupt magician and won. It only came at the cost of Kreya’s husband Jentt’s death. Because of this, Kreya has been hiding away in a tower avoiding all her friends and society. The fellow heroes assumed this was so she could grieve and process, but really, it was so she could break the law.
You are not to work with human bones, and Kreya has been stealing them from graves to revive Jentt temporarily for the last 25 years. When she uses the last of her talismans to get just barely a day of more time with her husband, she knows she’s going to need more human bones. To do this, she must go into the forbidden zone, and she’s going to need more talismans to do so.
“The problem with being alone was that it gave you time to think. And worry. And regret. And experience all those other inconvenient emotions.”
Kreya hits up her old teammate and hero, Zera, just for the talismans. Zera has other plans and decides to join Kreya in her crazy adventure. As they get to the forbidden zone, they realize that Eklor, their enemy, might not be as dead as they thought he was. Gathering the old team back together, they prepare to take Eklor down. However, it turns out that everyone already knows he’s still alive and they’re…siding with him?
“Some of us are better at hiding it than others, but we are all broken. You can’t live without breaking a few times. But that doesn’t mean that’s a bad thing. It just means you’ve lived in the world.”
The concept of this book was interesting. The world itself was like nothing I had seen before. Of course, I’ve seen necromancy and bone magic- but never a world in which that is the only magic. The world is somewhat primitive, but there are cable cars run by bone magic and an illustrious business is built out of bone talismans.
“Lots of people experience loss,” Kreya said. “They don’t use it as an excuse to turn into a mass murdered.”
Additionally, this felt like the aftermath of a YA fantasy where they save the world. I really loved the idea of this and how it was executed. The heroes have aged quite a bit, and each has dealt with the trauma in individual ways. These ways were not always healthy, but they were what they had to do. They all still respect Kreya as their commander, though, and when she turns their focus to the trouble at hand they’re ready to go in charging.
This book made me feel so many emotions. I cried over characters I didn’t expect to and I was proud of characters that initially I wasn’t interested in. Durst did a fantastic job of developing the character growth of both their past and present and developing a world that was amazing to read about. I cannot wait to read more from this author.
“You know, the last time we saved the world, you people didn’t have so many issues.”
Thank you to Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.