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The Bone Maker


The Bone Maker

The heroes we see in movies and read about in books are usually striking young people in the prime of their lives. We don't know what happens to them after time passes and they get wrinkled and older with aches and pains like the rest of us. We especially don't think about them if disaster strikes. Can middle-aged folks save the day?

In THE BONE MAKER, Sarah Beth Durst raises these and other thoughtful questions. The world we learn about is filled with fantastical creatures, and in the very beginning of this adventure, Kreya is trying to steal a piece of bone from a cadaver before it is burned on a pyre. The punishment for such a theft is severe. She is risking her life for the small shard she ends up taking back to the lonely tower where she lives with the body of her husband, Jentt, who died 25 years earlier during the great war against the bone maker Eklor, whose evil creations threatened their way of life. Keeping her company (aside from her husband’s corpse) are some magical creatures called constructs, which she created with bones. Sounds creepy, right?

It turns out that Kreya has perfected a way to bring Jentt back to life. But to resurrect him, she needs human bones and a sacrifice --- for each day he lives, she will live one less. The little shard that she's managed to steal has bought him only a day, and he didn't even get to see the sunset before he died again. Kreya wants more.

"THE BONE MAKER features twists that we expect and turns that are completely unexpected. But aside from being an action-filled fantasy, it forces us to consider our own mortality."

During the war, Kreya, her husband and their three best friends all managed to defeat and kill Eklor, but at great personal cost. Jentt died when he stepped in front of an arrow that would have killed Zera, a brilliant bone wizard who makes talismans that provide strength, speed, stealth and more to those who have them. Kreya hasn't seen Zera since that fateful day. She has remained in her tower alone, except for the snatches of time she gets with Jentt --- and the company of her constructs, whom we come to view almost as pets, although they are not living, breathing creatures.

When Kreya remembers the bodies of those who died in the war and their location --- a place that is off-limits to any visitors and guarded by soldiers --- she decides to try to gather enough bones to bring Jentt back to life permanently. To do that, she will need talismans from Zera, with whom she will have to make amends. The narration is third person omniscient, allowing the reader to learn a lot about Kreya and Zera, whose thoughts and motivations Durst readily shares. We see how hurt Zera was by Kreya's abandonment of her and their other friends. When Kreya asks Zera for talismans and won't tell her why she needs them, Zera refuses to help, and we understand.

But these heroes are human, and as such, they are all magnificent and flawed at the same time. Zera rethinks her stance and goes to the morbid tower, where she finds out Kreya's secret. She decides to help Kreya in her quest, and it's on this dangerous adventure that they discover something unsettling, jarring and world-shattering.

What do heroes who are no longer young and strong do when there is a threat to their world? They allow others to step up. But what if no one does? Kreya, Zera, Jentt and their friends, Stran and Marso, must decide if they are willing to risk their lives yet again when their country needs them.

While some of Durst's books grab you from the start, this one begins slowly. First we meet Kreya, and we come to realize how much she is willing to sacrifice and risk for just one day with Jentt. Durst makes us ponder an oft-repeated theme in literature: If we could live forever, would we? And more importantly, at what cost?

THE BONE MAKER features twists that we expect and turns that are completely unexpected. But aside from being an action-filled fantasy, it forces us to consider our own mortality. What do we live for? What would we sacrifice to keep our loved ones alive? Whose life is most important? Read this book and revel in becoming immersed in yet another imaginary world from Durst where croco-raptors attack, constructs help people, and magic assists humans in performing impossible physical tasks.

Admire these five individuals who could walk away from danger and hope that someone else takes the reins, but who risk it all for the good of others. It might prove constructive to consider the choices we would make if we were in their shoes. We certainly could use more stories with silver-haired heroes who sport wrinkles.

Reviewed by Pamela Kramer on March 19, 2021

The Bone Maker
by Sarah Beth Durst

  • Publication Date: March 9, 2021
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager
  • ISBN-10: 0062888633
  • ISBN-13: 9780062888631