Book Review: The Bone Queen

The Bone Queen
By: Alison Croggon
Published by: Candlewick Press
Release date: June 13, 2017
Genre: YA fantasy
Source: e-ARC kindly provided by publisher

Cadvan, a disgraced Bard living in exile, now cobbles shoes in a small mining town.  Haunted by one tragically malevolent act and continually tormented with the consequences of what he has done, Cadvan must reunite with those he hurt the most and face the evil forces that he let into the world.  
While The Bone Queen is a pretty typical fantasy story with mage-like Bards facing down an evil sorceress, the author’s characters and use of language truly make this book stand out.  To begin with, Cadvan (our hero) is an emotionally scarred wreck of a man.  Coping with the aftermath of a nearly unspeakable evil act, Cadvan doesn’t know if he will ever get his life back together or if he even deserves to.  And, honestly, neither does the reader initially.  It’s an unusual place to start with a leading character, but Croggon makes it work beautifully.  The next Bard we meet just happens to be one Cadvan crippled.  Seeing these two characters interact and eventually come to understand one another fascinated me.  Their relationship is complex, textured, and felt very authentic.
Reading The Bone Queen reminded me of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Part of that has to do with the layered history and mythology Croggon has created for her world.  Some forces have been in motion for centuries, others for decades, and still others more recent.  But much of the similarity comes down to the way Croggon writes; even her individual word choices are at times Tolkien-esque.   The Bone Queen herself is the best example of both of these.  She is what Galadriel would have become had Galadriel taken the One Ring when Frodo offered it to her.

Finally, The Bone Queen is a stand-alone prequel to Croggon’s Books of Pellinor series.  I have not read any of the other books, so I cannot comment on how well this volume fits in with what Croggon has written already, but I can say that The Bone Queen is a full novel in its own right.  I was able to jump right in and not feel like I was missing any critical information.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book!   
Perfect for readers of Tolkien and Garth Nix, The Bone Queen is the highly anticipated prequel to the original Pellinor sequence, and will delight fans of critically acclaimed author Alison Croggon, as well as newcomers to the world of Pellinor.

Cadvan of Lirigon, one of the most powerful Bards of his time, has been exiled from the School of Lirigon for a grievous crime that unleashed the power of the Bone Queen. Isolated and guilt-ridden, he is burdened by memories of his dealings with the Dark. Meanwhile, across Edil-Amarandh, a number of disturbing events suggest that the Bone Queen may not have been successfully banished, as was previously believed. The Light is under threat, but does Cadvan have the strength to face the Bone Queen again?


  1. Sounds like a great lead in for the series if one wishes to pursue it, but good to know it holds its own as a standalone! I've got a friend who really loves this type of novel, so I'll be passing it on. Thanks for the share!


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