*I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher. All quotes used in this review come from the uncorrected proof. These are my honest opinions. Thank you.*
Author: A. K. Wilder
Publisher/Imprint: Entangled Teen
Edition: Paperback ARC, 404 Pages
Hardcover Publication Date: January 05, 2021
A Spine that Shines? Most Definitely!
Raise. Your. Phantom.
For fans of epic fantasies and sweeping adventures, this ensemble cast will immerse you in a world of unique magic, breathtaking action and unforgettable characters.
In a world on the brink of the next Great Dying, no amount of training can prepare us for what is to come …
A young heir will raise the most powerful phantom in all of Baiseen.
A dangerous High Savant will do anything to control the nine realms.
A mysterious and deadly Mar race will steal children into the sea.
And a handsome guide with far too many secrets will make me fall in love.
My name is Ash. A lowly scribe meant to observe and record. And yet I think I’m destined to surprise us all.
‘At the core of your being, the phantom and you are one.’
-A. K. Wilder, Crown of Bones
Hello, everyone! How is your reading going? I finished reading Crown of Bones a few days ago, and I’m so glad it was my first book of 2021! I LOVED it! In fact, I loved it so much that I bought a hardcover copy for myself after I read the ARC lol.
Here are some of my initial thoughts:
- This was an action-packed adventure filled with unique world-building, compelling characters, fascinating magic, and a bit of romance. Honestly, it was a good balance of everything I love in a YA fantasy! Fresh and original.
- The world-building can take a little while to absorb initially, but it didn’t deter me from reading the story because it was so fascinating. I could see some younger readers potentially not having the patience to sit through it, but I think it is worth it. I found the glossary at the back of the book to be very useful!
- What a unique, interesting concept! It’s kind of difficult to sum up everything that this book is about; it is about even more than the little blurb hints at. It’s quite complex, and I liked that aspect of it. Savants are people who can raise phantoms, sort of like an inner spirit and often in the form of an animal. Non-savants are those who do not have a phantom or the attached powers. Although difficult to describe phantoms in words, I could imagine them vividly in my mind while reading.
- This book has other fun elements, too, including a race of sea people called Mar. They sort of remind me of merfolk, but slightly different.
- Some of the characters also do a bit of secret sneaking around a library at night! How fun!
- You’ll also find romance with a dashing sailor!
Characters & Romance
Overall, I really liked the characters – even the side characters. Each had their own personality. There are many more characters, but here is a brief overview of the main ones:
- Marcus is the Heir to the Throne of Baiseen. But he must pass his initiation and training in order to achieve a higher level of mastery of his warrior phantom and claim his rightful place as the future ruler of Baiseen. He’s also got a bit of family drama going on in the background.
- Ash is a scribe, accompanying Marcus and their group of friends on their initiation journey. Of course, the journey does NOT go as smoothly as planned. Along the way, she discovers a lot more about herself than she knew. She even falls in love with a dashing sailor.
- Kaylin is the handsome sailor who becomes the group’s guide and has a habit of saving their lives. He is more than he initially appears to be and must make an important decision over the course of the novel: follow his orders or follow his heart.
- Samsen is one of Marcus’s friends on the journey. He raises a cool avian phantom.
- Piper is the group’s friend and healer. Her healing phantom is a two-headed snake.
- Belair is another initiate who travels with Marcus’s group. He raises an awesome leopard phantom!
- The main romance in this book could be considered insta-love, but it didn’t bother me in this case. I really enjoyed Ash and Kaylin’s banter. I seriously laughed aloud a few times.
Finally, there are some loose ends here-and-there and the end is a bit of a cliffhanger, but I do believe these are intentional and will likely be dealt with later in the series. One revelation was slightly predictable, but everything felt well plotted to me overall.
I seriously can’t wait for the sequel! This first installment was just so fun and adventurous, hard to put down! The author is gifted in her ability to create good conflict and tension. My heart hurt for the characters after all they’ve been through. Whew! I highly recommend this novel for readers who enjoy epic fantasy with romance and lots of action. 5 out of 5 stars from me! Happy reading 🙂
*Content Warnings: LOTS of fantasy violence and battle gore (be warned some scenes are VERY gory); some kissing; cursing in made-up fantasy languages.*
Copyright © 2021 by Spines that Shine (Caitlin Shaffer)
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