Book Review

Silver In The Bone

Silver in the Bone

  • Author: Alexandra Bracken
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Publication Date: April 4, 2023
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • Series: Silver in the Bone #1

Thank you to NetGalley and Knopf Books for Young Readers for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: gore, blood, parental abandonment, violence, abuse

#1 New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Bracken cements her status as one of the top fantasy authors writing today in this stunning series opener inspired by Arthurian legend and fueled by love, revenge, and pure adrenaline!

Tamsin Lark didn’t ask to be a Hollower. As a mortal with no magical talent, she was never meant to break into ancient crypts, or compete with sorceresses and Cunningfolk for the treasures inside. But after her thieving foster father disappeared without so much as a goodbye, it was the only way to keep herself—and her brother, Cabell—alive.

Ten years later, rumors are swirling that her guardian vanished with a powerful ring from Arthurian legend. A run-in with her rival Emrys ignites Tamsin’s hope that the ring could free Cabell from a curse that threatens both of them. But they aren’t the only ones who covet the ring.

As word spreads, greedy Hollowers start circling, and many would kill to have it for themselves. While Emrys is the last person Tamsin would choose to partner with, she needs all the help she can get to edge out her competitors in the race for the ring. Together, they dive headfirst into a vipers’ nest of dark magic, exposing a deadly secret with the power to awaken ghosts of the past and shatter her last hope of saving her brother. . . 

Unless I have a truly heinous experience, I always like to give an author two chances before I really decide that their writing isn’t really for me. So after reading Lore and not falling in love with it, I still decided to give this book a try, especially since the blurb sounded so appealing on so many levels. However, it seems that Bracken’s books just aren’t a good fit for me.

The story started out good. I was intrigued by the premise, and the dynamics of the world that was built. I wasn’t expecting it to be an urban fantasy, but was pleasantly surprised by how it was incorporated into the story. The world-building was intriguing and done really well. Bracken avoids info-dumping, keeping the reader interested while providing little bits of information about how the world and the magic system works throughout the story. 

I was less enthusiastic about Tamsin’s character. I understand that she’s coming from a place of long-held trauma and a difficult life, having built high walls to protect herself from being hurt by others. It’s hard to shake off the kind of trauma that occurs in early childhood, especially without having strong supports and a sense of security, and Tamsin certainly doesn’t have that. And after her sense of abandonment is compounded by the loss of her guardian, all she has left is her brother, Cabell. But things quickly devolve, and she obsesses over the only way she can figure out to break his curse.

She’s brilliant, and single-minded, and incredibly devoted to her brother. But those positive traits can also become hindrances, especially when she’s so fixated on what she’s searching for that she fails to notice what’s directly in front of her, such as the people who are actively trying to help her, as well as the struggles her brother is facing, and how much he needs her to just be there for him. It’s hard to empathize with a character who refuses to make any changes, even when slapped in the face with the need to, multiple times throughout the story. She only starts to change towards the very end of the book, and quickly reverts the moment there’s an obstacle in her path. Hopefully her character development will actually happen in the next book, because I was really disappointed with her lack of growth in this story.

 But by far, the biggest challenge I faced with this book was the pacing, same as I struggled with in Lore. The first two-thirds of the book were extremely slow-moving, and I started to find myself having difficulty picking the book up once I had put it down. Mainly because the story involved so much planning, and nearly no action. All of the action and surprises were saved up for the last third of the novel, when things moved so quickly it was almost difficult to keep up with everything. 

I was also expecting the Arthurian legends to play more of a role in the story, but it didn’t come into play until later in the book. In addition, while Tamsin and Emrys had teamed up relatively early on, they didn’t technically “decide” to work together until nearly half the book after they started working together. There was an enemies to lovers arc that was done relatively well, although it left off on a loose end, which I’m guessing will be resolved in the next book. The story ends on a major cliffhanger, and while I didn’t quite understand any part of it, I guess that too will be resolved in the next book. However, since Bracken’s writing isn’t the best fit for me, I don’t think I’ll be checking out the next book in this series. But a lot of people do seem to love her books, so maybe this will inspire someone to read it.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 18

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