Loved this!

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The Last Bonecarver is a YA fantasy about a girl who has healing magic. She lives in a country that conquered her people, and because of this she has no connections to her heritage. Healing magic works like medical science, which means she could choose to use her magic to heal or hurt. Because of this, she mostly stays away from people except when she has to heal people for money.

At the start of the book, she’s caught using magic and put up for sale on the black market. Most of the people who want to buy her likely believe the superstitions that she can bring people back from the dead or can grant immortality. Over the course of the week, the bids keep going higher, until a teenage girl shows up and offers a huge amount of money, far outbidding everyone else.

As it turns out, this girl is a part of a very rich family that makes automatons, and she has someone that she needs healed. A few days ago, her father was killed in a carriage accident and the driver is now in a coma. She’s hoping to revive him to figure out if the carriage wreck was really an accident or if it was actually murder. While she’s there, she meets one of the other people who had bid on her, and is very curious to know what he wanted her for.

This is a really solid YA fantasy. Ever since outgrowing YA, I’ve struggled to find YA books that work for me. But this one was great. It’s all about a girl learning to embrace the magic of her people and discovering her lost heritage, while also getting tangled up in a potential murder investigation. I think the diaspora themes in this book are going to resonate with a lot of young teens, especially here in the US. I personally can’t relate to what the main character was going through, but it was still so heartbreaking to read about.

Also, the healing magic was so cool. This book is set in a time period when medical science has just started to become well researched, which means that healing magic has fallen by the wayside as doctors are able to perform some of the same operations without magic. But there are still certain things that science can’t do, which is why healing magic is so important to preserve.

There’s also this huge theme of villainizing healing magic because people could potentially use it for harm. The main character has used it for harm to escape danger in the past, even though she knows it’s wrong. She has to grapple with what that means in relation to her heritage, where all young kids were taught never to use their magic to hurt people.

The themes of this book were weaved together so beautifully. I really felt for the main character and her struggles with understating her past and what that means for her now. There was also one other character who we meet that also shares her heritage that I grew to care very much for. He doesn’t have the same connection to his past as she does, and he’s desperate to learn more about his people. While the main character sometimes resents her magic for getting her into trouble, he sees it as this amazing gift that connects him to the heritage he’s never had the chance to explore.

If any of this sounds cool to you, I highly recommend this book. Although the book could function as a stand-alone, I think the author has more she wants to say in this world and will probably write another book. There’s one particular thing at the end that hints at maybe a sequel in the future, though the main plot is completely resolved.