Partnered Book Review | The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire, #1)

Title: The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire #1)
Andrea Stewart
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The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.


Ayah: ★★★☆

Three words. Bone. Shard. Magic. 

Can a story get any better than that? Andrea Stewart, the author of ‘The Bone Shard Daughter’, created a magical world that relied on using shards of human bone. This concept of using literal bones to power creatures called constructs was a thrilling one that I had never seen before and I found myself instantly enthralled by the idea. In the book bone shard magic was uniquely used by the emperor and his heirs and could not be utilized by anyone else, it was a magic that was potent and the process was highly confidential. The process that included inscribing the shards with magic and placing them inside one of the animal-like constructs came at a hefty cost. The citizens whose shards were in use tended to fall ill and die quickly. This leads us to the main plotlines of the story which include rebellions, secrets, and a deep hatred for the emperor. 

The book is written in many POV’s and predominantly follows the emperor’s daughter Lin and a smuggler named Jovis but it also follows three other minor POV’s that are carefully interlaced throughout the story. This interesting narrative gives the reader a better understanding of how each and every one of these characters viewed the emperor’s rule.

‘The Bone Shard Daughter’ had a promising premise and in theory, it should have been an excellent read. However, I was confused about the world-building for the first bit of the story and the build-up to the actual action took too long. I also found myself unable to get fully immersed into the story until I was about 70% in. I spent most of my time in a state of confusion whilst reading this book, which is regrettable because I strongly believe that I would have enjoyed it more had I understood the world from the beginning. Despite its slow start, the book got much better towards the end and I enjoyed it a lot more once I knew what had driven the characters motives.

Whilst the majority of this book was not to my liking the last bit of it got me hooked and I am quite glad that I did not give up on the story. Now that I am no longer confused about the world that Andrea Stewart wrote, I am anticipating a good sequel to this first instalment in ‘The Drowning Empire’ series and you will most likely find me reading it as soon as it comes out. 

Haadiya: ★★★☆

Lin is daughter to the emperor. She lives in luxury, with warm safe halls, servants to do her bidding and enough food for a full belly. She receives cold detachment from her father who pits her against his adopted son for the crown. Starved of love, of any memories following a mysterious sickness, Lin stretches herself thin trying to draw his affection & gain his respect.

Jovis, smuggler and outlaw, is on the run. Hiding, and always, searching. For several years, he has sailed the vast seas looking for a ship with blue sails, for his beloved who was taken from him. But his journey is about to splinter off onto a new route. During a short stop on a nearby island, Jovis is caught up in the Tithing Festival, a ritual that sees local children lined up & forced into submission: a small incision made, a piece of bone taken behind the ear. Not all survive, if they do they aren’t likely to live long if the shard sickness gets them. But this is the law, this is a system that fuels the bone shard magic & protects them.

On a remote island at the far edges of the empire, Sand goes back and forth from home to the grove, collecting mangoes, completing her task, never questioning her being. But one day, an incident occurs and it is an awaking that it will have huge consequences not only for Sand but for the island and everyone else on it who can’t seem to remeber how they got there.

An uprising is coming and Jovis, Lin, Phalue and Sand are at the very heart of it.

Jovis and Mephi were by far my favorite characters and were the most likeable. They brought of humour and light to the otherwise dark tale. I greatly admire Lin for her courage to go against everything she thinks she knows. Phalue and Ranami’s relationship was amazingly crafted and I absolutely adore them both. I can’t wait to read more about these four well crafted characters in Andrea’s sequel, The Bone Shard Emperor.

About the Author

Andrea Stewart

Andrea Stewart is the Chinese American daughter of immigrants and was raised in a number of places across the United States. Her parents always emphasized science and education, so she spent her childhood immersed in Star Trek and odd-smelling library books. When her (admittedly ambitious) dreams of becoming a dragon slayer didn’t pan out, she instead turned to writing books. She now lives in sunny California, and in addition to writing, can be found herding cats, looking at birds, and falling down research rabbit holes.

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