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The Shadowglass: The Bone Witch, Book 3

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Shadowglass: The Bone Witch, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Confusing writing mars impact of dark series finale.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Intricate world building with multiple kingdoms to keep track of will get readers thinking about favorite fantasy worlds in books. Readers can compare style of magic they see here with those in other series, especially ones where witches and others deal with the dead: the Old Kingdom, the Last Apprentice series, the Lockwood & Co. series, etc.

Positive Messages

Political power and power of magic are intoxicating, hard to give up, even when innocent lives can be saved. Fear of loss and death are biggest threats to peace and must be overcome.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tea continues to go against her training and find her own path toward what's right for the world, though for most of book she's afraid to follow that path because it means so much personal loss. Her transformation remains unclear until end. An array of LGBTQ representation: One character is transgender, one gay, two lesbian.

Violence

Many cursed innocents transform into monsters that look like giant insects and are fought in skirmishes and battles -- it takes hacking off of limbs and heads to kill them. Gory moments, like jets of blood, briefly described. Armies face undead and big monsters called daeva -- one spews venom that eats flesh of soldiers around it. Some wounds from using magic -- somehow a wind rune chops off a hand. A few sad deaths from stabbings. Mention that a man killed his insane father with a pillow to the face. Cities burned (with few casualties) and punches thrown. When the daeva are killed, a bezoar is cut from their heads.

Sex

Tea is sleeping with Kalen, with only one sex scene briefly described ("eager hands" and a "tangle of limbs"). LGBTQ couple kisses, and a straight couple shares a bed with nothing described.

Language

"Shite bastard," spelled like that, plus more of "bastard," "ass," "bloody-assed," and "bitch," but not often.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A character under 17 drinks to drunkenness. Another drinks to excess and shouts out to bar full of men that her lover is good in bed. An older man smokes a cigar.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Shadowglass is the third book in the Bone Witch series by Rin Chupeco. Expect more of the same dark magic and dead creatures to inhabit this finale. Many cursed innocents transform into monsters that look like giant insects and are fought in skirmishes and battles -- it takes the hacking off of limbs and heads to finally kill them. There are gory moments, like jets of blood, briefly described. Armies also face the undead and big monsters called daeva -- one spews venom that eats the flesh of soldiers around it. Expect a few sad deaths, all from stabbings, as well as some light salty language (not worse than "bitch"), and one character under 17 gets drunk. The main character overdoes it too, and tells a bar full of men that her lover is great in bed. There are a few scenes of characters in bed, but only one that talks of "eager hands" and a "tangle of limbs." Otherwise, only kissing is described, with both straight and LGBTQ couples.

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What's the story?

In THE SHADOWGLASS, Tea is still looking for answers on how she can control the dark forces but not let them take over her soul and turn her insane. On her giant, winged daeva with three heads, she flies to the cold northern country of Istera to find out more about the legends of Shadowglass. What she finds in an old text surprises her. Everything she knew about her world of magic was wrong, and magic needs to be eradicated to save humanity. Tea is torn, because saving humanity means losing her undead brother and familiar, Fox. There must be another way, she decides, and she intends to find it. But she's quickly distracted by new evils emerging: In villages and towns all over the world, people are being blighted, or turned into giant, rampaging insect-like creatures. And Tea is having dark dreams where she sees towns burning. Once, she even wakes up with a knife in her hand and her sister dead at her feet.

Is it any good?

This disappointing finale is proof that fantastic world building will only carry you so far. Authors need to carefully plot these tales, and write and rewrite them until they are clear and compelling to the reader. In The Shadowglass, it's just so hard to follow along with the story. The divided format, with italics chapters told by a Bard and plain-text chapters narrated by Tea, has been difficult to follow for the whole series, and in this third book, it's nearly impossible. It's never clear where in time each story is or how they eventually overlap.

Simple writing issues also get in the way of a clear story a reader can follow. Take Chapter 6, where there are long stretches of people talking with no sense of who is in the room or where people are sitting or what the scene even looks like. This lack of attention to setting also upsets the impact of Chupeco's many fight scenes, which is too bad, because these blighted creatures sound fascinating. This whole world is fascinating, and it's unfortunate that the reader can't see it clearly in the finale.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about power corrupting many in The Shadowglass. Who wants power for themselves? Who wants to make the world better? Where does Tea fall for most of the book? Why?

  • Talk about Likh's transformation. What did Agnarr see in her heartsglass? What's her first reaction? How does she talk to Tea about it? How is Tea supportive of her choice?

  • Are you satisfied with the ending of this series? Is there a kingdom out of the many here that you'd like to read more about in the future?

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