A #BoneShardDaughter RAL Discussion | #JorieReads “The Bone Shard Daughter” (Book One: The Drowning Empire) by Andrea Stewart [ Part I: Chapters 1-11 ]

Posted Sunday, 9 May, 2021 by jorielov , , , 5 Comments

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Gifted Book By: I had borrowed “The Unbroken” from my local library thinking it was the readalong selection this year for Wyrd And Wonder; only it turnt out, the community decided to choose another novel “The Bone Shard Daughter” which was not purchased by my libraries. Imyril surprised me by gifting me a paperback copy in order to take part in my first Wyrd And Wonder RAL / readalong as every year it would seem the chosen books are not available in my local and regional libraries in order for me to borrow them to participate. I am sharing my ruminative thoughts on behalf of this book and series for my own edification and I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. 

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Why I decided to read the interview:

The Fantasy Hive hosted a lovely interview with Andrea Stewart (see also the Interview) which explains a few things for me as I was curious about the constructs of this world as much as the constructs (ie. hybrid animals) which are a feature of the bone shard magic itself. I hadn’t connected all the dots yet – as I was still in the throes of the opening chapters, however, my first take on this story was apparently a bit off the mark. As I am used to bones being used as acts of divination (usually in stories which involve the paranormal or dark magic) or they are used to curate an awareness about the future or the past, depending on the person whose reading them. In that instance, I was interested in knowing how this world was built on that principle only to find out it went a different way altogether – to where the bones themselves are not used to read the past or the future but rather instead are used to curate a hybrid creature which responds to its creator by the use of the shards themselves.

Having read and watched films which involve AI technology, this was slightly disturbing on a variety of levels but moreso to the point, was the fact in this world they are cross-using different animals for their own devices and reasons. I wasn’t entirely sure if I was comfortable with that usage as generally speaking when it comes to animals, I’d rather they were left alone. I know this was also explored in the Spy Kids franchise of films – where certain animals were cross-matched and hybrids were produced of different species, including in miniature form but part of me questioned the reasons why they needed to explore those avenues.

In The Bone Shard Daughter, it seemed more for sport than for necessity or even an exploration of what science can yield in experimenting with husbandry of animals. Which is where I stumbled into my first issue with the book and its trajectory. This is why I sought out the interview and wanted to see what the author had to share herself about the foundations of her world-building and although she didn’t address all of my concerns, she did answer a few of the questions I had lingering in my mind as I was reading the opening sequences.

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The Bone Shard Daughter
Subtitle: The Drowning Empire : Book One
by Andrea Stewart
Source: Gifted

Genres: Historical-Fantasy

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0316541435

Published by Orbit

on 30th March, 2021

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 496

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Published By: Orbit (@orbitbooks)
an imprint of Hachette Books UK & Little Brown & Company UK

Converse via: #SpecFic or #SpeculativeFiction, #Fantasy as well as #BoneShardDaughter

Available Formats: Hardback, Audiobook and Ebook

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Week One’s Questions are from The Fantasy Hive’s Bethan

As I knew this might be a more challenging and difficult read for me – I have been changing my mind about how I want to approach blogging about my readings and my reactions. Therefore, I felt it was best to follow the format of the questions and in response to those questions, share my thoughts along the route of the story. This of course was before I recongised this was a DNF and thereby, I decided to use the discussion questions as an entrance into discussing what didn’t work for me in the story itself.

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Welcome to Stewart’s Bone Shard Daughter world! What are your initial impressions? 

It is quite difficult to separate my heart from the story as I never want to see animals mistreated or abused or used in science experiments – as it just goes against my nature. However, this is a Fantasy story and knowing that, some of what might be disclosed could be rather disturbing if it was viewed against our world in comparison to their own.

Dark magic and certain technologies which seek to cross-hybrid these kinds of species are at work as soon as you open the novel. I claim ‘dark magic’ but in essence, I’m not sure what kind of magic is at work as its too soon to judge or reason it out – but something decidedly dark has to be in practice if they are using bone shards to animate their creatures which they experiment with to see how to precisely they can control them with the shards themselves? This gave me a lot to think on initially – as what were the ramifications to the persons who supplied the shard and what lasting effect would this have on the constructed creatures themselves? Do they terminate as soon as the shards are removed?

Part of me was intrigued by some of the characters – Lin in particular, as she was choosing to reach past the boundaries her father was placing in front of her to succeed as his heir and Jovis due to the nature of his quest to find his missing wife. Yet, there was this unsettling creepiness which hung over the chapters for me. I felt uncomfortable about the constructs and how they were being manipulated – as they weren’t limited to just a few inclusions but this whole world is built and run by constructs – to where you cannot get through a section of the story without seeing another one of them. I think I was too sensitive to those creatures because all I could think about was the weight and cost to the people whose shard of bone were being used in these creatures and how the creatures themselves weren’t sentient but rather controlled by this magic to do the bidding of their masters.

I also started to get a moderate migraine reading this novel – it was the first time that’s happened – and I think in part because I was reading against my own nature. The moment I read about how the creatures were being created just didn’t sit well with me and as I tried to push forward, to see more into this world and get a better understanding for it all – the more my head ached and the more my discomfort grew just to be settling into a story I was quite sure in the opening bits was already a DNF for me.

What do you make of the magic system and the world-building?

I honestly didn’t enjoy the magic structure of this world because I had trouble moving past the cruelty of it and the methodology of how it was being used. From the collection of the bone shards themselves on everyone’s eighth birthday as if they were participating in a coming-of ritual and to the usage of the shards themselves as a method of scientific control over non-sentient creatures who were cross-hybrids of different species of animals. There is so much to unpack from that observation alone but I was choosing not to ‘go there’ myself.

Is there a character you’re particularly drawn to so far?

Jovis – simply because it was admirable for him to want to seek out the truth about his wife and about the missing women. She seemed to be only one of many being taken without explanation. The fact he has a soft spot for those in dire need of rescue is part of the growing appeal of his character – as he can’t turn down the chance to help someone else in need despite the hardships he is facing himself in life. I liked how he is a likeable character despite himself and despite the scruples he has as he lives his life on the edge and fringes of this world’s societies.

Jovis tends to tell lies when faced with truths he doesn’t want to face. As a first person narrator, how reliable do you feel this makes him?

I personally loved Jovis — so despite the lies, which were always told with a check to his conscience, I felt drawn to him immediately. It isn’t that he lies because he wants to lie but rather he lies for protection – either for himself or for others; as he’s quite a bit complicated despite the fact you think you’ve sorted him out straightaway! There are a lot of layers to Jovis and seeing him interact with the young boy he’s taken in as his charge and the kitten as well – you can determine quite a bit about him simply through his actions whilst the earthquakes were happening and foreshadowing the sinking of a city.

Sometimes the character you least expect to be a keen observer of their world is the one character you ought to pay more attention too. I already knew I liked Jovis through his capacity to see beyond the obvious answers and to seek out the fuller truth which is being hidden from him and everyone else. He doesn’t believe what those in power wish others to believe and that makes him the most reliable narrator for the story – he’s used to eluding to things that are not entirely true himself, he masks his own truths with lies and that puts him in the best position to unmask the fuller lies of this world and perhaps, save lives.

Fly in the Ointment: Content Note:

I was a bit worried about the use of bone shard magic and the ways in which the construct creatures are ‘made’ or rather constructed because I had a feeling this novel could crossover into Horror rather quickly. Stewart surprised me by keeping the Horror elements nominal in the opening chapters but I kept my eyes on alert as that didn’t seem to be the case going forward as I was quite sure there might be sequencing which would be either more graphically described or just give me a few spine chilling moments of where the subject of how bone shard magic is used was just not going to be my cuppa tea. I was on the fence really of how far I could proceed knowing how and why bone shards were needed in this world.

This might prove to be a CW/TW for other readers as well. Especially due to the ways in which the hybrid animals are a bit of a mash of species and how they don’t seem to be themselves at all. I never was one for experimentation with animals or with cross-matching species in this way. Even as foresaid about how this was explored in Spy Kids – part of me questioned the ethics of it and of course, why it was being shown as such a mainstream concept.

I think what caused my migraine is the content of the story combined with the gravity of what was happening in the background in regards to the magic system itself. Sometimes certain themes of stories affect me in ways I am not suspecting they would and I have to walk out of those stories as they just weren’t a good fit for me as a reader – The Bone Shard Daughter, unfortunately is one of those stories for me.

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On the Speculative and Fantastical styling of Andrea Stewart:

Interestingly enough, as Stewart opens the novel, we’re struck immediately by the urgent necessity of how Lin is struggling with her amnesia and how without the memories of whom she were before she was taken quite ill and rendered with only a handful of years to remember of a life once lived – there is a darkening behind her foreshadowing how without her memories, the world she has come to love is going to forever become altered. At greatest risk is her right to ascension after her father – as this is a world where power and rule are co-dependent on the arts of magic and in particular the usage of bone shards.

Stewart doesn’t connect the magic of this world to the reader until she’s had a chance to introduce us to Lin and her father; a rather cruel-hearted man in the beginning – where he cares less about his daughter in the condition she is currently with the prospect of having to ascend his foster son over his daughter. It felt to me that he is more concerned with who can utilise the magic and who can command the magic to their will moreso than the fact he has concerns for those who are infirmed and have suffered a loss of memory. I just don’t think he has the capacity to accept someone whose altered by illness and has to live a life reduced in memory but not in worth – though in his mind, without a full recovery, he finds that person (his daughter) to be reduced in worth as she is no longer ‘whole’ by his judgement.

I had a lot of issues with how Stewart was building this world and the foundational concepts of how she set the magic system in this world left me unsettled most of all. I wish I could have found more joy in reading this novel but for me, it was just wasn’t jiving well for me. Ironically, I think if the magic system had been the one I had thought it might have been, I believe I might have read this until the very last page!

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A note of appreciation to Imyril:

I hadn’t foreseen this RAL taking such a side step for me — I was looking forward to feeling inspired by the discussion prompts and seeking out the posts by my fellow Wyrd And Wonder adventurers to gain their insights and re-gauge my own. However, sadly, after a few left turns for me in the narrative and a diversion of attention away from the two characters I felt were stronger focuses (ie. Lin and Jovis) – I realised I couldn’t continue reading this story.

It is a gamble we all take when we’re reading – whether our expectations match the story and whether or not we can soak into the author’s vision for the world they’ve created. I constantly try to push myself outside my own boundaries and not limit myself to wandering round the same circles but sometimes, I stumble into a world which is not sitting well with me as a reader. I’ve always been a sensitive reader and for whichever reason, I couldn’t look past the creatures of this world and gain a foothold into the characters behind them.

I was very appreciative of receiving this book — I just wish it had taken me in a different direction… I will miss sorting out the discussion prompts and conversing about this with everyone else in the RAL. I’d love to know what your thoughts were as you were reading – kindly leave your posts linked in the comments if I’ve not yet listed them here and I’ll be sure to visit with you soon.

The RAL might have ended short for me, but the gift I was given by a dear friend will always remain.

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This readalong & discussion is courtesy of:
Wyrd And Wonder & Imyril

whilst part of #BoneShardDaughter’s RAL:

The Bone Shard Daughter RAL banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: jorielovesastory.com

Read the #BoneShardDaughter RAL Announcement via onemore.org

Despite not being able to pursue this story myself – I will be visiting others who are discussing the first week’s readings to see what their thoughts were themselves & getting a different perspective.

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Reading this story contributed to my #WyrdAndWonder Year 4:

Wyrd And Wonder banner 2021 (Pegasus) provided by Imyril and is used with permission. Wyrd And Wonder banner 2021 (Pegasus) Image Credit: by Svetlana Alyuk on 123RF.com.

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Enjoying my fantastical reviews about the worlds of Fantasy?

Ever since the beginning of Jorie Loves A Story, I have embarked on a Quest to seek out stories within the worlds of Fantasy which would heighten my awareness of the genre and give me wicked good reads – across the subniches of a genre I’ve loved since I was seventeen. Every May, I happily co-host @WyrdAndWonder – whilst throughout the months of the year, I regularly read & discuss the Fantasy reads I am discovering.

Visit my full archive for ALL my #EnterTheFantastic wanderings! As well as take a walkabout through my archives for #WyrdAndWonder – or take a walkabout through my archive for everything deemed wickedly fantastical!

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 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #BoneShardDaughter RAL 2021

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 9 May, 2021 by jorielov in Book Review (non-blog tour), Speculative Fiction

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5 responses to “A #BoneShardDaughter RAL Discussion | #JorieReads “The Bone Shard Daughter” (Book One: The Drowning Empire) by Andrea Stewart [ Part I: Chapters 1-11 ]

  1. I’m really sorry the book didn’t end up working for you, but I love how you laid out your thoughts about it. I admit I didn’t fully grasp the sinister aspect of the way bone shard magic works until it was spelled out, because I was expecting it to be necromancy not needing the people to still be alive. So it was – oh they’re still alive that’s not so bad — oh but not for long, that’s not so good either.

  2. Hi Jorie! You say you are a sensitive reader, I think you are also a compassionate one. I can completely appreciate your reasons for not continuing with this book. Your thoughts and feelings about the constructs have drawn them to my attention more fully and I have to agree with you that this is actually a dark magic. I don’t think I’d really cottoned onto that fact before, so thank you.
    And I wish you happy reading!

  3. Lovely interview! I’m sorry this didn’t work for you in the end, but that’s sadly a fact of reading and not every book can work for everyone, so don’t feel bad! Sometims it’s just not the right book. Your feelings on the characters though shows that even if the construct issues had problems for you, you were still drawn to the characters and gave the book a solid chance.

  4. azucchi

    Hello Jorie! I really appreciate seeing your thoughts and reactions for this week (and for having a look through those of other bloggers, like mine), even if you won’t be continuing! I definitely agree that it would not be enjoyable to force yourself through a story that causes you discomfort. I think your blog post has definitely highlighted the constructs further for me. There are a lot of times while reading that I glance over them, except for when Stewart gives a particularly vivid description, and I realise how easy it is to desensitise myself. Though when I realised that the bone shard magic used up the life force of the person who’s bone was being used that definitely gave me a sense of horror, and you are probably right to stop where you did, because as Lin discovers more about her father’s magic there are a lot more descriptions of constructs and how they are made! I hope you find some reading more to your liking!

  5. Hallo dear Jorie – I’m sorry to hear you had such a bad time with this book. As readers there are always themes and topics that we are uncomfortable with or cannot bear to read about – and we don’t have to, this is our hobby and it should bring joy (and definitely not migraines!) Having read on last night into week two I think you are absolutely right to tap out, as the implications and demonstrations of the magic only grow darker. I continue to be engaged and delighted by Jovis and his new friend Mephi (I share your interpretation of Jovis’s character, he’s a sweetheart) and am intrigued by the mysterious community on Maila, but there’s no dodging the constructs or their implications. Here’s wishing you happier reading for the rest of the month!

    imyril recently posted: The Obsidian Tower

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