Books and Bone is a deliciously detailed adventure of one of the only non-necro denizens of Tombtown, a bustling necropolis far in the depths of a mountainous crypt.
Books and Bone: what's it about?
Ree is the only daughter - the first child born in Tombtown - of town councillor Igneus and Arthura, priestess of Morrin the Undying. When she comes across Smythe, a ridiculous third ranking historian from the Upworld, they accidently disturb the Lich, the oldest and vilest creature of necromancy in the crypt.
What happens from there is a spiderweb of calls for sacrifice, time travel and blood oaths. The town's mobs are driven by their need to survive, but so is the lost city of the past. Ree and Smythe find themselves not just at the centre of the town's potential apocalypse, but inadvertently agents of it. Can they save Tombtown and themselves in the process, or will one or other of them be sacrificed to a greater cause?
What's special about it?
Therianthropy. Shapeshifting, to be precise. A lost magical science in Ree's time, she's determined to reawaken it. And as the town's assistant archivist, with a slew of books at her disposal, she's in a good position to track it down ... or she would be, if such a book existed. The trouble is, it doesn't. Not yet.
Will you like it?
One of my favourite devices of Books and Bone is the use of inserts between chapters, excerpts from an historical piece by Emberlon the Disloyal (Ree's Chief Archivist) and from a book possibly not yet written, Wylandriah Witch-Feather's diary. The additional information gives you backstory without the feeling of information dump in the middle of the story, written in different styles from the main piece.
Books and Bone is satisfyingly long, draws on the author's long association with DnD, and is genuinely humorous to boot. The characters are fun, often a bit silly, and what I particularly liked was that more or less every character who got a mention by name had a story arc that was properly completed within the book. Even minor characters.
The other things I appreciated were the genuinely original metaphors that were always descriptive and appropriate for the scene. "Bees buzzed in her head and anxiety pecked at her belly" and so on. Books and Bone is tightly written without being uptight. It's irreverent and lighthearted, well constructed, but not overly aware of its own cleverness.
If that sounds like your cuppa tea, go ahead and get it read!
Books and Bone by Victoria Corva is available from Scarlet Ferret, along with other titles set in the same universe and loads of exciting digital extras!