Title: Bone Crier’s Moon
Author: Kathryn Purdie
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Age Range: Young Adult
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Bone Criers have a sacred duty. They alone can keep the dead from preying on the living. But their power to ferry the spirits of the dead into goddess Elara’s Night Heavens or Tyrus’s Underworld comes from sacrifice. The gods demand a promise of dedication. And that promise comes at the cost of the Bone Criers’ one true love.
Ailesse has been prepared since birth to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers, a mysterious famille of women who use strengths drawn from animal bones to ferry dead souls. But first she must complete her rite of passage and kill the boy she’s also destined to love.
Bastien’s father was slain by a Bone Crier and he’s been seeking revenge ever since. Yet when he finally captures one, his vengeance will have to wait. Ailesse’s ritual has begun and now their fates are entwined—in life and in death.
Sabine has never had the stomach for the Bone Criers’ work. But when her best friend Ailesse is taken captive, Sabine will do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means defying their traditions—and their matriarch—to break the bond between Ailesse and Bastien. Before they all die.
TW/CW: hunting/on-page animal death, self-harm (for use of blood magic)
I unintentionally read two French-inspired YA fantasy back to back and I really didn’t like the first one (full review here!), so what did I think of the second one? I was actually pleasantly surprised!
Bone Crier’s Moon is a super captivating story about women tasked with ferrying the souls of the dead, though they’re only able to do this after they kill their soulmate.
Ailesse – The daughter of the matriarch. Prepared since birth to ferry the dead and eagerly is trying to please her mother. Best friend to Sabine.
Sabine – Ailesse’s best friend and witness to her rite of passage. Unsure if she wants to complete her rite.
Bastien – Lost his father to the Bone Crier’s when he was a boy. Has spent his life preparing for revenge.
The magic system in this book was super interesting. Bone Criers appear to have magic due to their connection to the divine. They’re granted their ability to ferry souls due to the gods and their main source of magic comes from animals. Bone Criers are able to take on key attributes of animals (speed, sight, etc.), by hunting the animal and using their “grace.” Bone Criers are careful to limit the number of graces they have and are careful to fully honor the animal after death.
If you’re sensitive to animal death/hunting, I would pass on this book as there are many depictions of hunting.
So this book jumps right into the inciting event.
Ailesse and Sabine are preparing for Ailesse’s rite of passage as Bastian is preparing to trap a Bone Crier and kill her as revenge for a Bone Crier killing his father. Ailesse performs her rite and Bastian is the person that the gods present to her, though her rite is not completed as Bastian’s friends intervene and Ailesse is kidnapped.
Sabine goes back to the matriarchy and tries to help Ailesse. However, Sabine learns that Ailesse’s mother may have other motives for rescuing Ailesse and having her complete her rite. This plot was definitely the part I found way more interesting.
Ailesse and Bastian have a pretty typical ya enemies-to-lovers path. While I did like how they were able to communicate and learn from each other, they were also apprehensive due to their upbringings. I did grow to enjoy their relationship, but it wasn’t anything that different from other ya romances.
Sabine’s plot, however, was so interesting. She actively ignores the orders of the matriarch and aims to acquire her two remaining graces so she can help her friend. Friendship is a huge part of Sabine’s arc, as many of her actions are done so she can help her friend. Sabine’s arc is also steeped in the mythology in this world, as she becomes witness to a more sinister plot revolving around the matriarch.
Okay, so to accurately talk about what really saved this book for me, I need to spoil the hell out of the ending. The last 50-100 pages of this book had so many things happen. I don’t think I’m going to spoil everything, but we need to talk about probably the biggest reveal:
Bastian was not Ailesse’s soul mate.
We find out that there was another person who was supposed to meet Ailesse on the bridge and Sabine brings him to Ailesse, hoping to help Ailesse and Bastian. Unfortunately, this backfires (and gives us the main cliffhanger for book 2), as we find out that Ailesse’s true soul mate is the Prince.
This opened up a really interesting conflict and suggested a potential love triangle for the second book. This also brings up the question is the gods really send the Bone Criers the right soul mate as this is now the second wrong soul mate presented in this world.
While this book was a bit forgettable at times, I had a ton of fun reading this one. I can see why a lot of people hyped this book up pre-release. This a fun, lore-rich fantasy story with super memorable characters. Though part of this story felt pretty cliche as far as ya fantasy books go, the ending really set it apart and created some pretty compelling conflicts for the sequel. This book was surprisingly dark and was not afraid to up the stakes. I will probably be continuing with the sequel.
If you liked House of Salt and Sorrow, you’ll probably really enjoy this one!