The Bone Shard Daughter

Orbit. (Drowning Empire, Bk. 1). Sept. 2020. ISBN 9780356514949. $28. FANTASY.
Lin Sukai is heir to her father’s throne, but if she cannot master the work of the bone shards—skull fragments taken from living subjects to become power constructs created by the emperor—she will never rule. Making matters worse is that Lin cannot remember pieces of her life and her foster brother seems to be superseding her in her father’s affections and power. Resorting to stealth and secrecy, Lin searches for answers and discovers there is much she never knew. The islands in the empire are sinking, and one smuggler–turned–reluctant hero named Jovis is coming to Imperial Island as the only survivor of the latest collapse. Whomever he is searching for, and what Jovis brings with him, will collide with Lin’s truths, revealing the shocking experiments of the emperor and the fractured society the empire has become. Multiple points of view combine with vivid worldbuilding and well-rounded characters, as the ramifications of authority based in fear impact an entire country.
VERDICT Stewart’s richly told, emotional, action-laced debut lays bare themes of autonomy, control, and the seeds of revolution that come from desiring a new way of life. Readers will finish this eager for the follow-up.
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