Book: The King of Bones and Ashes (Witches of New Orleans 1) by J.D. Horn
Release Date: January 23rd 2018
Tags: Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Paranormal / Ghosts / Witches / New Orleans / Legend
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this review copy in exchange for an honest review
Magic is seeping out of the world, leaving the witches who’ve relied on it for countless centuries increasingly hopeless. While some see an inevitable end of their era, others are courting madness—willing to sacrifice former allies, friends, and family to retain the power they covet. While the other witches watch their reality unravel, young Alice Marin is using magic’s waning days to delve into the mystery of numerous disappearances in the occult circles of New Orleans. Alice disappeared once, too—caged in an asylum by blood relatives. Recently freed, she fears her family may be more involved with the growing crisis than she ever dared imagine. Yet the more she seeks the truth about her family’s troubled history, the more she realizes her already-fragile psyche may be at risk. Discovering the cause of the vanishings, though, could be the only way to escape her mother’s reach while determining the future of all witches.
Having seen the cover pass me by on Netgalley, I knew I had to request this one with a title like that. It screams of an atmospheric, dark, horror tale with perhaps some necromancy. While it did have some of these elements (but not the necromancy unfortunately) it did not quite manage to capture me. The biggest reason for that was how the story was told.
We get the story through three main female characters with a point of view chapter thrown in from other characters here and then. I like seeing stories through different eyes but in this case I think a maximum of two characters without any side chapters would have been plenty. With only 350 pages and an incredibly slow pace there is absolutely no way you can do justice to any of these characters or the tale you are trying to tell. I thought it was a real shame because had there have been a bigger focus on the main character mentioned in the synopsis, Alice, we could have gone on a great ride I believe. As it stands now, I’m lukewarm.
As mentioned the plot of this book unfolds very slowly. We get drawn in to the lives of three women who have a connection to one another through one family, the Marin’s. The story is slow because of all of the groundwork and background that is being established, but it also made it confusing at times because we did not have a concrete focus at times. I wondered where we were going with all of this. I do see what the author was trying to do, and I certainly was surprised when it came to some revelations at the end. But because I was confused in placed the build-up failed a little for them.
Next to the cover and the title, another element that drew me to wanting to pick up this book was the fact that it is in New Orleans. Being an European myself I have very little idea of New Orleans besides what we see on television. I thought seeing a witches book set here though would be such a great add to the atmosphere though. I can’t tell you whether or not the author depicted New Orleans and its inhabitants well (and I haven’t seen any reviews that mentioned it) but I did think the descriptions of New Orleans were an added bonus on the whole.
As far as the characters go, I wish we could have delved more into the three females. Out of them I was most drawn to Alice who was admitted to an asylum for many years after the death of her brother. It was interesting to see her return to a family that had done that to her. I found her interactions with them interesting, but I missed the scenes where she was alone with her father in the house or her other brother Hugo, and she could confront him for instance. I just missed things. Deepening into those things. Those relationships. The other two females also deserved more deepening. I felt like we only scratched the surface. I hope there will be more on who they really are in the next installment.