Title & Author: The Bone Knife, Intisar Khanani
Genre & Publication Date: Fantasy, October 22, 2012
Book Description: “Rae knows how to look out for family. Born with a deformed foot, she feigns indifference to the pity and insults that come her way, learning to be wary of all things beautiful. So Rae instantly distrusts their latest visitor: an appallingly attractive faerie whose mere presence imperils the secret her sister guards. But when the local townspeople show up demanding his blood, Rae must find a way to protect both her sister’s secret and their guest. Even if that means risking herself.”
First Line: “We’ve a visitor,” Niya says as I enter from the kitchen yard.
My Take: This short story is free on Amazon.
At only 35 pages, this little tale spins an amazing story! I have to admit that I’ve never read anything quite like it. Right out of the gate, there’s an intriguing disturbance. The “visitor” mentioned in the first line is one of the Fair Folk coming to buy horses from the family. In this world anyone who has even a hint of magical talent in their blood are to be reported and sent to the Mages for training into the King’s service. The sister of the main character has some of this talent, only they haven’t reported it. Thus having one of the Fair Folk come by (who might report this omission) makes everyone in the house rather nervous. Fantastic set up and world building conveyed quickly and believably.
The main character, Rae, was incredibly interesting, and not just because she deals with a club foot. Though this disability shapes a lot of her experiences (the way society treats her, the way she thinks of herself) she has incredible tenacity and agency, perhaps more so because of the physical challenges she must overcome.
It was incredibly satisfying to read a fantasy story where the main character comes from a loving home with siblings who care for each other and parents who are still, you know, alive. Most of the time there’s an orphan situation so I really liked seeing a full family dynamic. The characters are well drawn, each with their own distinct personality. Great tension, great mystery, this one had all the elements.
And oh boy, did I want to know more about this fae visitor! He’s not an antagonist, but there’s something mysterious about him, something not quite calculable, and he seems to “see” more than he lets on, particularly in the wily Rae. Thoroughly enjoyed their interactions.
The Magical: I love the author’s treatment of magic. Magic is usually a big force in fantasy stories. Lots of power and consequences. Here it’s depicted as part of the person as a whole, like the color of their eyes or the way they move. It simply seeps out of their pores into the everyday things they do, like making bread that smells like the field in which the wheat was grown, or the way flowers hand stitched into the curtains somehow seem as real as those in a meadow. The treatment of magic in this story absolutely captured my imagination.
The Mundane: Can’t think of a thing really, which is saying something. I might have liked some extra action but that really stems from a desire for MORE of this story.
Summary of Thoughts: Can’t rave enough about this one! It’s FREE on the Kindle, so get out your device and download this little gem. Magic, mystery, suspense, family, and characters with incredible depth. What more can you ask for?
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Want to know more about the author and her work? Explore her website here