Backlist Burndown Review: California Bones by Greg van Eeckhout
Narrator: Jonathan Todd Ross
Series: Daniel Blackland #1
Published by Recorded Books on June 10th 2014
Length: 8 hours 53 minutes
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.
Extravagant and yet moving, Greg van Eekhout's California Bones is an epic adventure set in a city of canals and secrets and casual brutality--different from the world we know, yet familiar and true.
California Bones is a gritty, slightly canabalistic urban fantasy, but trust me, it’s quite a good read. I know, how can something be “slightly canabalistic“? Either there are canabals or there are not. Well, there are. But, it’s osteomancers that eat other osteomancers once they run out of their special magic bones to chomp down on. (Osteomancers are the magic users). But not all osteomancers go to that extreme. There is definitely one rather creepy scene that sets the tone for this, and leaves a lasting impression on both the reader and Daniel. But what reader doesn’t like lasting impressions? Especially when they are creepy!
As you may have gathered, the magic in this book is attained by consuming bones, and not just any bones, but the bones of mythical creatures. Fun things like basilisk teeth, kraken spines and griffin claws. Our protagonist Daniel had a very powerful father, who fed Daniel fed bones regularly since he was just six years old. Somewhere along the way, he became so saturated with magic that it changed him. He no longer needs to consume bones, but can draw power from within himself.
Being powerful sounds great, right? Well…It also comes with quite a downside. The more powerful someone is, the more power another osteomancer can attain from their bones. That makes powerful osteomancers a target. Being from a powerful family, Daniel has suffered because of this. His family was massacred, but thankfully with some foresight and some very loving parents, Daniel was spared and sent to live in hiding. Current day, Daniel is grown and still living in hiding. He has forged some amazing friends and is surviving by living the good old life of a conman (seriously, who doesn’t enjoy some con jobs in their books?)
The story revolves around a huge heist that Daniel and his friends were hired for. It also gets the attention of Gabriel, an agent that has stumbled on to some information that leads him on a hunt for Daniel (who is supposedly dead). I really enjoyed the dynamics between Daniel and his friends, so I always liked his sections. I was also intrigued by Gabriel, and curious to see what his plans were for working his case. Heists are always good reading, and getting the perspective of someone on the other side of the law is great as it lends more urgency to the story.
Overall, I found this to be an exciting and fun read. The characters were interesting, there were definitely a few twists I did not see coming, which is always wonderful. Definitely recommend.
I have challenged and committed myself to reading at least one book from my backlist every month and posting the review on the last Friday of the month. I invite anyone interested to join me and link up their own Backlist Burndown reviews. I will offer the link at the bottom of my monthly Backlist Burndown reviews, and also will keep a running record of the reviews on my Dracarys! Backlist Burndown page available from my top menu.