Blog Tour · Book Review

Review: The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

I love so SO much of what I just read; the world, the dark, gritty, well-meaning and confused characters, and the whole creepy system of bone shard magic. And, of course, the strange sea otter/sea dog/sea dragon/sea cat that is Mephi.

Title: The Bone Shard Daughter
Series: The Drowning Empire #1
Author: Andrea Stewart
Pages: 448
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: September 8th 2020
Ownership: Physical ARC provided by the publisher as part of a Compulsive Readers Book Tour

Rating: 4.5 stars

About the Book

In an Empire of migrating islands that are governed by constructs made by the Emperor, we follow Lin, the Emperor’s daughter, who is fighting to regain her memories and make herself worthy of learning his bone shard magic and being his heir. Jovis is a smuggler, trying to pay off his debts so that he can continue his search for someone perhaps lost to him. And Phalue is an island governor’s daughter, watching her father give lavish parties whilst orphans starve in the streets.

These are some of the main players in The Bone Shard Daughter, which weaves together a series of different narratives that you know will come crashing together – whether in this book or the next, something will change …


I absolutely loved this book from cover to cover. The characters are struggling, interesting and make mistakes. I particularly loved Jovis, not just for the adorable deadly ‘pet’ Mephi, but also for his own slow growth as he realises what role he can play in this world.

Alongside the whole terrifying concept of bone shard magic – of taking bone from people and using their life force to power the constructs that both protect and oppress them in the name of the Emperor – is an excellent underlying plot of rebellion and class struggle. None of the main characters are directly involved in this, which is even better – it may become their fight, or affect them, but it’s not just one MC realising the world needs to change – the world is already changing with or without them.

And add to that, the mysterious threat of the Alanga, the lost and fabled original inhabitants of these MIGRATING islands (did I mention how exciting it is to have migrating floating islands??). There is history and a little bit of mystery and depth to this world.

I was slightly disappointed by Lin’s storyline – anyone who has read Girls Made of Snow and Glass might notice some strong similarities and, as I was reading, I was wondering what felt so familiar. I didn’t read it as a copy, however. Instead it felt like a stronger darker retelling on the same theme. It meant that the Big Revelation wasn’t quite so big for me, but it didn’t detract from being a solid, good story.

It was great to read a genuine female/female romance between Phalue and Ranami – especially as they were not only an established couple, with multiple proposal attempts, but also on two very different sides of the class divide. There doesn’t seem to be much of a ‘women’s roles are these things’ society too, which is even better as fantasy does not need to be oppressive. Even better, same-sex couples don’t seem to be rare or remarkable. There’s talk of couples marrying and adopting children seems not at all rare or unusual – just really refreshing to read this as a norm, rather than something remarkable.

In any case, I’m very happy to take 4.5 stars and round it up to 5 for gripping adventure with strong and interesting characters, and plenty of excitement to come.

P.S. I think I know what’s coming. I think I know who these people are and how that could ultimately make things play out. But can I have the next book now just so I can check, please??

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley, Orbit books and Compulsive Readers in exchange for an honest review.


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