Title: Bone Crier’s Moon
Author: Kathryn Purdie
Release date: March 3rd 2020
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Star rating: ★★★★.5
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Summary (Taken from Goodreads)
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.
Bone Crier’s Moon is, in a word, addicting.
The book is set in a world where a secretive group of women — Leuresses, or Bone Criers — ferry the dead to the afterlife in order to prevent them from wreaking havoc on and harming the living. I adored the lore and mythology of the Leuresses world: in fact, it was probably my favourite part (which is unusual, as the characters are usually my favourite. They were a very close second here!). Bone Criers gain the ability to ferry the dead by gaining three ‘graces’, or abilities from the animals they kill, and are then tasked with killing their soulmate as a show of their dedication and loyalty to the cause. Throughout the book I found myself wishing there was a quiz I could take to see what my graces would be, in the vein of the Pottermore Patronus test. I loved how original and unique the magic system and settings were, and the French inspirations sprinkled throughout the world; it was clear to see that, as she says in her Acknowledgements, Bone Crier’s Moon really was Kathryn Purdie’s ‘love letter’ to France.
There are multiple POVs present in Bone Crier’s Moon, but the book primarily focuses on Ailesse (pronounced eh-less, in case you were wondering). Ailesse is a leuress and begins the book collecting her third grace in preparation for her rite of passage (where she will kill her amouré, or soulmate). I adored Ailesse as a character: she’s fierce and protective and bold and a little bit snarky and a whole lot badass. She has some character development throughout the book as she spends more time outside the bubble of leuresses she has grown up with, and I hope this development is expanded upon in the sequel, Bone Crier’s Dawn. As I mentioned previously, there are other points of view within the book: Sabine and Bastien. Sabine is a leuress, like Ailesse, but at the start of the book has only one grace bone, from a fire salamander. She is more timid and less certain being a bone crier is what she wants for her life, hating the thought of killing animals, let alone her fated one true love. I thought Sabine received the most character development in the book, as she really came into her own by the end of the book. I’m particularly looking forward to Sabine’s chapters in the sequel, as I loved the internal conflict Purdie began to hint at towards the end of this instalment, as a result of the grace bones she acquires. I really enjoyed the friendship and sisterly bond Ailesse and Sabine share. While there could have been, there wasn’t really any competition between them (like there often is between female characters in YA), and this was a refreshing change. Despite their circumstances, and having to kill a boy in order to fulfil their duties, they were still able to make light of their situation and joke around, often engaging in humorous ‘girl talk’ about what their dream amouré would look like. Finally, Bastien: Ailesse’s amouré. Having watched his father be killed by a bone crier as a young boy, Bastien begins the book determined to get revenge and take the life of one of their own. Throughout the plot, Bastien struggles with his burgeoning love for Ailesse and his desire to kill her and get his revenge (a struggle Ailesse also shares). His inner turmoil was excellently written, and was one of my favourite parts about his POV chapters. Of course, there are other non-POV characters present in Bone Crier’s Moon, in the form of Jules and Marcel, Bastien’s companions who are also seeking revenge of their own. I didn’t feel particularly strongly about either of them, but I liked the character development Jules received as the plot progressed. Marcel received a tad less page time, and so that could be why he wasn’t as well-developed, and so apart from being the ‘brains’ of the group, his character felt a little flat for me. I didn’t dislike the pair of them by any means though, they simply weren’t my favourite side characters I’ve read about. I enjoyed Odiva, Ailesse’s cold, cunning mother and leuress matrone, as an antagonist, despite her motivations, which could be construed by some as ‘tropey’. The ending of Bone Crier’s Moon left her in a rather uncertain place, in regards to her appearances in the sequel, but (spoiler alert), she will return in Bone Crier’s Dawn; the question remains, though, how this will be made possible. There is, of course, romance present in Bone Crier’s Moon. For me, the romance and relationship between Ailesse and Bastien can best be described as a mix-up of insta-love, yearning, star-crossed lovers and enemies-to-lovers. I know, that’s a lot to take in and mash together, but it works! As I mentioned before, Ailesse and Bastien spend most of the book contemplating if/when and how to kill the other while simultaneously being drawn to the other in ways they can’t explain. Because of this, their relationship can definitely be classed as a ‘slow burn’, as there was only a few ‘romantic’ scenes sprinkled throughout, but I’m sure Bone Crier’s Dawn will develop upon their relationship and the romance between them more. There is a little bit of a love triangle present, in the form of Jules/Bastien and Ailesse/Bastien, which I wasn’t the biggest fan of (most likely because I wasn’t the biggest Jules fan), and so I hope Bone Crier’s Dawn addresses (and resolves!) this — not that I imagine Jules (or the ending!!!!) will keep Bastien and Ailesse apart for long, given their romance is a main part of the concept for the book/series.
I loved the plot of this book! What starts off as a ritualistic killing gone wrong is masterfully unravelled into something so much more complex and darker (and full of female independence and girl power!). The book also ended on a cliffhanger, giving readers a taste of what to expect in Bone Crier’s Dawn, as well as potentially hinting at a new villain/antagonist. Bone Crier’s Moon is also wonderfully written. I appreciated the relatively even split between POVs, ensuring each of the three main characters got enough page time, both to develop their own characters and the plot. As well as letting readers experience the plot from multiple perspectives, having 3 POVs also helped expand the world and worldbuilding, which I enjoyed, as I couldn’t get enough of it (as I suggested earlier in this review)! It made me wish for a virtual reality game set in this world, so I could wander off on my own and go exploring! Bone Crier’s Moon has fast pacing, which probably lended itself to my inability to put this book down! Never once while reading it did I feel bored or tempted to skim ahead to see what was coming: Purdie’s writing entranced me from the very first page!
TL;DR: All in all, Bone Crier’s Moon is an absolutely incredible novel that I couldn’t get enough of. From a distinct, endearing cast of characters and a star-crossed, enemies-to-lovers romance to the French-inspired world and original magic system, Bone Crier’s Moon has something for everyone, and it completely captivated me for the time I spent reading it.
Next review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.