Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review: California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout - and Giveaway

California Bones
Author: Greg Van Eekhout
Publisher: Tor Books, June 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages
List Price:  $24.99
ISBN:  9780765328557
Review Copy: Provided by the Publisher

When Daniel Blackland was six, he ingested his first bone fragment, a bit of kraken spine plucked out of the sand during a visit with his demanding, brilliant, and powerful magician father, Sebastian.

When Daniel was twelve, he watched Sebastian die at the hands of the Hierarch of Southern California, devoured for the heightened magic layered deep within his bones.

Now, years later, Daniel is a petty thief with a forged identity. Hiding amid the crowds in Los Angeles—the capital of the Kingdom of Southern California—Daniel is trying to go straight. But his crime-boss uncle has a heist he wants Daniel to perform: break into the Hierarch's storehouse of magical artifacts and retrieve Sebastian's sword, an object of untold power.

For this dangerous mission, Daniel will need a team he can rely on, so he brings in his closest friends from his years in the criminal world. There's Moth, who can take a bullet and heal in mere minutes. Jo Alverado, illusionist. The multitalented Cassandra, Daniel’s ex. And, new to them all, the enigmatic, knowledgeable Emma, with her British accent and her own grudge against the powers-that-be. The stakes are high, and the stage is set for a showdown that might just break the magic that protects a long-corrupt regime.

Extravagant and yet moving, Greg van Eekhout's California Bones is an epic adventure set in a city of canals and secrets and casual brutality--different from the world we know, yet familiar and true.

Qwill Thoughts

California Bones is a contemporary noir fantasy novel set in an alternate Southern California. The story centers around the life of Daniel Blackland who we first meet as a boy. Daniel's father, an extremely powerful osteomancer, is killed (and eaten) by the leader of Southern California, the mysterious Hierarch. The Hierarch's power (and those of all osteomancers in Southern California) comes from bones. These bones mostly were dredged from the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. But these are not simply the expected dinosaur bones. These are bones form animals that are mythical and ingesting their bones imbues the osteomancer with their strengths.When those bones run out, the Hierarch resorts to eating the bones of other osteomancers to get their strengths and powers. Like other fossil fuels, bones are not a renewable magical energy source.

After the death of his father, Daniel ends up with his "Uncle" Otis, who trains him to be thief. Flash forward many years and Daniel is still living in Los Angeles under an assumed name. He's also an osteomancer and wants to get away from Otis and the life of a thief. Unfortunately, Otis has one more job for him: break into the Hierarch's Ossuary and steal back the extraordinary and powerful sword made by Daniel's father and grab other valuable items for Otis. It's a job that Daniel can't resist. Daniel rounds up his friends to help with the heist.

Daniel is complex anti-hero. He just really wants to do one more job and get enough money to get out of Los Angeles. Revelations about himself throughout the novel push him into making more difficult decisions and change what he sets out to do. The story is not solely about Daniel however. This is very much an ensemble piece. I really like the interplay between Daniel and his friends. The planning of the heist is intricate and interesting. Learning about the different types of creatures and their uses is fascinating. There are intriguing subplots that tie to what is happening to Daniel. The characters run the gamut from very likeable to extremely odd and creepy. Los Angeles itself is a character in the novel with its canals for roads and osteomantic treasures. There is also a smattering of the history of the alternate Southern California. The familiar is made unfamiliar and uncommon. 

California Bones is a novel that you should not miss. It is a unique and wonderfully different blend of urban fantasy, alternate history and heist story. It moves along at a terrific pace and the writing is crisp. I thoroughly enjoyed reading California Bones and am extremely happy that it is the first novel in a trilogy. I can't wait to read more!

The Giveaway

What:  Three entrants will each win a copy of California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout from Tor Books. US/CANADA  ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on June 27, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

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  1. This book sounds so good, and since I'm originally from Southern California, I'm even more intrigued to read it. I'm not sure what mythical creature's powers to wish for, but if there's one that has the power to teleport, that's what I want. :D

  2. Flight. Flight would be cool. I could take some awesome pictures!

  3. Pegasus could fly, I'll take that one. Thanks.

  4. The phoenix for me.
    debby236 at gmail dot com