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ALC Review: Silver in the Bone by Alexandra Bracken


Release Date: 4 April 2023

Rating: 3.5/5

Narrator: Sophie Amoss

Book Boxes: FairyLoot YA April 2023, OwlCrate April 2023

Synopsis: A series opener inspired by Arthurian legend and fueled by love, revenge, and pure adrenaline!


Tamsin Lark didn’t ask to be a Hollower. As a mortal with no magical talent, she was never meant to break into ancient crypts, or compete with sorceresses and Cunningfolk for the treasures inside. But after her thieving foster father disappeared without so much as a goodbye, it was the only way to keep herself—and her brother, Cabell—alive.


Ten years later, rumors are swirling that her guardian vanished with a powerful ring from Arthurian legend. A run-in with her rival Emrys ignites Tamsin’s hope that the ring could free Cabell from a curse that threatens both of them. But they aren’t the only ones who covet the ring.


As word spreads, greedy Hollowers start circling, and many would kill to have it for themselves. While Emrys is the last person Tamsin would choose to partner with, she needs all the help she can get to edge out her competitors in the race for the ring. Together, they dive headfirst into a vipers’ nest of dark magic, exposing a deadly secret with the power to awaken ghosts of the past and shatter her last hope of saving her brother. . . .

 

Review


Silver in the Bone touts Arthurian inspiration, and readers will get that, but only akin to how much one can call skim milk milk. Don’t get me wrong, there is some good storytelling is there, and the places and characters are alluded to, but the meat of the legends are not. I felt more of a connection to Disney’s Atlantis, American Horror Story Season 3, and The Hunger Games more so than I did with any King Arthur myths; and the synopsis is quite inaccurate to the actual events in the book. That being established, it’s a great portal fantasy with mystery elements and a twist at the end. However, I feel the plot got a bit convoluted after the first half and became hard to follow. If readers just ignore the synopsis and go in expecting something Arthurian-adjacent, they may do well.

I feel like a lot of the issue I have with this book stems from the misleading synopsis. First, Tamsin’s lack of magical talent should have been a great opportunity for character development and plot structuring, but Tamsin finds a very easy way to remedy her “ineptitude” not far into the book, which makes the selling of her limitation as a point in the synopsis moot. As to Emrys being a rival, I would not consider this to be the case. Emrys is more like an influential rich boy for whom Tamsin harbors a lot of resentment because of his circumstances. While they end up being “competitors” in the story, the synopsis attempts to establish that the two have some sort of relationship beyond just knowing the other exists, which is definitely misleading.


Also, the “rumors swirling” is not an established point in the plot. Tamsin accepts a lucrative job from a dangerous sorceress, which leads her to find out some details about her foster father, including some artifact he was looking for when he went missing. The rumors aren’t there beforehand, especially about the artifact in particular, of which Tamsin’s own research leads her to discover the details. To top it off, the “competition” with other Hollowers for the artifact only comes into play for a short while in the book. The rest of the book has nothing to do with the race for the artifact and much to do with something else entirely, which I will definitely leave for the reader to discover. I enjoyed the surprise even though it isn’t touched on in the synopsis at all.

After getting past what I expected and adjusting to what I was getting with this book, I found I liked it alright; but after a certain point, the amount of characters and details for the world building muddled the mystery of the plot a bit. It was truly hard to follow, especially as a listener, and keep track of all of the character interactions and back stories in order to deduce the real mystery and draw any conclusions as to what or whom to expect as the culprit for the mystery of the book. Many times, a character goes away and resurfaces later only to make me have to back track and rewind, and I usually never have trouble keeping details straight in audiobooks—even with fantasies.


The saving grace of this ALC was the narrator. I know if I had been trying to physically read this book, I would have struggled to get through it. The narrator’s voice is so pleasant to listen to, I couldn’t help but just keep listening. Absolutely 5 stars for the narrator’s performance. In fact, if readers can listen to this instead of physically reading, I highly recommend doing so.


Overall, 3.5/5 for the book itself. It just felt mediocre and haphazard, which could be a reason for the discordance between the synopsis and the actual plot.

Recommended audience: 16+ for language, violence, sexual situations, and some underage drinking


My thanks to Libro.fm for the ALC, for which I willingly give my own, honest opinion.


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