Hello friends, how are we all doing?
Today I’m looking forward to bringing to you my blog tour stop for this historical fantasy: The Bones of Ruin, thank you so much to Turn the Page Tours for selecting me as tour host!
THE BONES OF RUIN by Sarah Raughley
Genre(s): Historical, Fantasy | Age: YA
Series: The Bones of Ruin #1
Publication: 7 September 2021 | Read: 10 August 2021
No. of Pages: 496
Trigger Warnings ↴Death, Murder, Torture, Slavery, Imprisonment, Human Zoos
As an African tightrope dancer in Victorian London, Iris is used to being strange. She is certainly a strange sight for leering British audiences always eager for the spectacle of colonial curiosity. But Iris also has a secret that even “strange” doesn’t capture…
She cannot die.
Haunted by her unnatural power and with no memories of her past, Iris is obsessed with discovering who she is. But that mission gets more complicated when she meets the dark and alluring Adam Temple, a member of a mysterious order called the Enlightenment Committee. Adam seems to know much more about her than he lets on, and he shares with her a terrifying revelation: the world is ending, and the Committee will decide who lives…and who doesn’t.
To help them choose a leader for the upcoming apocalypse, the Committee is holding the Tournament of Freaks, a macabre competition made up of vicious fighters with fantastical abilities. Adam wants Iris to be his champion, and in return he promises her the one thing she wants most: the truth about who she really is.
If Iris wants to learn about her shadowy past, she has no choice but to fight. But the further she gets in the grisly tournament, the more she begins to remember—and the more she wonders if the truth is something best left forgotten.
Thank you to Turn the Page Tours, Netgalley and Simon Pulse for providing me an ARC for this blog tour for a sincere review. All quotes are from the unpublished copy and may differ from the final product.
REVIEWI was immediately hooked by the premise of a historical fantasy set in Victorian London that was akin to a supernatural Hunger Games. And I’m ridiculously happy to say that The Bones of Ruin in the slightest did not disappoint!
It follows Iris, an African tightrope dancer who, for lack of a better word, cannot die. She has no memories of her past until she gets recruited by the mysterious Adam Temple to compete as his champion in his Tournament of Freaks, a magical, but deadly competition held by a secret society to determine leadership.
With many of the historical fantasies I read, my favourite aspect of The Bones of Ruin would be the historical one. As mentioned earlier, it is set in Victorian London and the steampunk vibe (one with aesthetics reminiscent of the 19th century, a subgenre of science fiction) in the midst of a post-apocalyptic world, the setting was perfectly atmospheric. Be it the barbarity in dealing with threats, or the racist practices and attitudes, or even the dominance of secret society and other lucrative avenues, this book completely encapsulated the late 19th century with a touch of dark magic, and I savoured every bit.
A promise made between a young man and a corpse in the middle of the night.
Another aspect I could go on a lengthy rant about it would be the crafting of the story because it was truly an engrossing and adrenaline fuelled adventure. We’re already being hit by the fact that our main character cannot die, then introduced to a group of BIPOC teens with abilities of their own, thrust into a Hunger Games-sque kind of competition with a darker edge that turns them into all but puppets in the hands of secret society members who pull the strings in their ardent grab for power. It’s dark, cutthroat, it’s thrilling, not only in action alone, but through the secrets that are leaked out slowly until it’s a flood that turns the entire course of the book upside down.
Knowledge and power are dangerous commodities when one monopolizes them.
It’s fast-paced and fun with elements of magic powers, tournaments but balanced by instances of astoundingly dark themes of slavery and human zoos which foreshadowed the post-apocalyptic setting well.
I’ve witnessed the folly of many books unable to balance both character and plot, and I’m afraid to say that The Bones of Ruin fell into that hole with its poor characterisation. Iris was honestly given so much potential, the author quickly implanting themes of race and identity into her character journey, however they all descended into a lackluster, special snowflake personality that she embodied. She was perfect, even in her flaws, she was brave, heroic and alluring to all – don’t even get me started on the love triangle (or perhaps even a square) that was insidiously growing until it irritatingly took up the later half of the book. Speaking of the later half of the book, I’m sorry to say that it took such a drastic turn in quality compared to the initial promising set up. Perhaps it was mostly my ire towards the blossoming love triangle/square and the increasingly patronising personality of Iris, but I felt that The Bones of Ruin slacked off. So many bits of information, albeit intriguing were thrown sporadically without any warning, the plot also switched to bullet-train mode and quickly plunged into something epic that had me question how the book even ended up there. It may be a satisfying experience for some, but I was left behind, thoroughly and utterly confused by the huge scale things had abruptly taken.
“My body is my own. My heart is my own. My fate is my own”
How can people who believe so much in reason become easily enraptured by what they outwardly consider to be the reason’s opposite? But perhaps that’s the paradox of the modern age.
Nonetheless despite the poor characterisation and inferior 2nd half, The Bones of Ruin was an enjoyable and immersive read whose historical setting I fell in love with and plot which never failed to astound me as well as cause me to devour it in a few sittings! Definitely recommend you’re in for an atmospheric, albeit dark, and fast-paced YA historical fantasy!
rating // ★★★
About the Author
Sarah Raughley grew up in Southern Ontario writing stories about freakish little girls with powers because she secretly wanted to be one. She is a huge fangirl of anything from manga to SF/F TV to Japanese Role Playing Games, but she will swear up and down that she was inspired by ~Jane Austin~ at book signings. On top of being a YA Writer, she is currently completing a PhD in English, because the sight of blood makes her queasy (which crossed Medical School off the list).
She is represented by The Bradford Literary Agency.
So far, you can also find her on Twitter, where work ethic goes to die.
Up for grabs will be TWO (1) finished copies of The Bones of Ruin by Sarah Raughley. This giveaway will be open to U.S. residents only and will run from August 29th to September 13th at 11:59 PM CST. Two winners will be chosen. To enter, click the link below!