REVIEW: Bonesmith by Nicki Pau Preto

Something that I remember very vividly about childhood is walking through forests. Looking at how pretty and otherworldly everything looked. The deeper I walked, the more I found things that looked ancient. Things shined in the right light and suddenly a perfectly simple branch looks like a bone. Either I watched too much Disney, or my mother read me too many horrific fairy tales, but I know this for sure. Nicki Pau Preto’s Bonesmith seems to have the right idea about making forests deadly.

Cover for Bonesmith by Nicki Pau PretoNicki Pau Preto’s Young Adult novel, Bonesmith, takes that escapist fantasy imagination with pure enthusiasm.

It’s about a teen girl, who we quickly learn wants to be worthy of her family. Wren wants to prove herself to her father but does not have the type of relationship with her family that you would describe as unconditional. Hoping to serve as a valkyr for the House of Bone, she hopes to live up to her family’s expectations. Told to protect Leopold, a House of Gold prince, Wren ends up in a conflicting situation between rescuing a kidnapped prince and dealing with an irascible exiled enemy. She and Julian, the aforesaid enemy, brave the haunted, ever-spooky Dominions in a reluctant alliance. They are both attacked and haunted by the dead (Wren is at the ready with a sword!). Up against one ghoulish thing after the next, they spend time talking about their people and their hurts, opening more nuanced revelations. Wren goes through life as a fan of the chaos approach: barging through a fight. That attitude goes against Julian’s more strategic approach to life. These are two young people in a world of adults plunging kids into the politics of their parents. They are just here to deal with the world given to them.

The author takes the reader to discover a very “word” enthusiastic exploration of people and their origins. The people in Bonesmith have smithing abilities, providing them with magical talents to spin or “smith” the world around them. Ironsmiths can magically craft with iron. Woodsmiths craft wood. Goldsmiths with gold. Bonesmiths, like Wren, can command bones and even ghosts. Bonesmith reminded me a lot of playing a video game. Warriors outfitted in bone armor walk a forest of bone, where skeletal creatures and necromancy haunt them. That feeling of smithing and metal feels very crucial to the gamer in me.

All the undead ghoulishness promises a story for teen and young adult audiences of The Locked Tomb. Throughout Bonesmith, we get a bit of the type of things fans will like or at least give a reminder of the comparisons sold on the back of the book. Bones are in every sleeve and pocket.

Bonesmith manages to delight in bones and hauntings. Although, I do have qualms about some parts of the novel feeling a little too heavy on descriptions without getting into the interesting bits of character work. Pick up Bonesmith to sate your thirst for bones, creepy forests, and twisty forests.

Read Bonesmith by Nicki Pau Preto

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Brigid Flanagan

Brigid Flanagan

Brigid spends her life searching the deep, dark world of words and storytelling. She spends her time thinking about folklore, mythology, lyrical sagas, and a mixture of all types of romantic legendary tales. They review @thefantasyinn and have written for media outlets on anything having to do with bookish content and nerdy fandom.