Title: California Bones
Author: Greg Van Eekhout
Publisher: Tor Books
Keywords: Osteomancy, heists, bone magic, wizard eating, team awesome, *heists*
Why? A fellow reader recommended it to me at Borderlands SF, an amazing bookstore dedicated to SF/Fantasy/Horror that is sadly going under this March. Seriously he had me at heists. I LOVE heists. There’s just something about a team (usually badass misfits of a sort) coming together and sticking it to their target.
In their words:
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.
It’s been a long time since I was excited over a book and this book was what I was looking for. I just flew through the book; the characters, the plot and world-building just kept my attention the whole weekend. I thought the idea of obtaining magic through ‘osteomantic’ creatures like a riddle sphinx and griffins was such a good concept and at some times kind of gross. I mean, some characters in this book are imagining how you (and your magic, or essence) would taste like. Daniel’s father was eaten for the power in his bones. For all of Daniel’s life, betrayal and survival are the absolutes, which makes the emphasis on his friends/crew that much more an important theme. Sometimes his guilt over what he has to do gets a bit tiresome, but in the end, ‘once a thief, always a thief’. The author did a good job balancing the fun of a heist adventure and the underlying dark and horror of the characters and this Venitian-like, U.S. split L.A. (The hounds, the hounds).
Ugh, I would leave a passage and/or a quote, but my boyfriend has my copy. For those who are looking for something a bit different in their urban fantasy, can stand a little squeamishness and want a fantasy book with good ol’ heist fun, then this is a book you cannot miss. I’m halfway through the sequel, Pacific Fire and though I felt the momentum kind of slipped a bit (I love Daniel and his crew and I’m a bit sad they’re not center stage) I’m glad I’m still in this world that Van Eekhout created.
Man, I really feel bad for not leaving a passage from the book or something, so I’ll leave something below. And I only just realized the animals in the background are very fitting. If anyone can recommend any heist/caper books, especially caper books in sci-fi fantasy, please let me know!