House of the Dead Duology
Format: Hardcover, 464 pages
Release Date: July 25, 2023
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Gideon the Ninth meets the Game of Thrones White
Walkers in this dark young adult fantasy about a disgraced
ghost-fighting warrior who must journey into a haunted wasteland to
rescue a kidnapped prince.
Ready your blade. Defeat the undead.
In the Dominions, the dead linger, violent and unpredictable, unless a bonesmith severs the ghost from its earthly remains. For bonesmith Wren, becoming a valkyr—a ghost-fighting warrior—is a chance to solidify her place in the noble House of Bone and impress her frequently absent father. But when sabotage causes Wren to fail her qualifying trial, she is banished to the Border Wall, the last line of defense against a wasteland called the Breach where the vicious dead roam unchecked.
Determined to reclaim her family’s respect, Wren gets her chance when a House of Gold prince is kidnapped and taken beyond the Wall. To prove she has what it takes to be a valkyr, Wren vows to cross the Breach and rescue the prince. But to do so, she’s forced into an uneasy alliance with one of the kidnappers—a fierce ironsmith called Julian from the exiled House of Iron, the very people who caused the Breach in the first place…and the House of Bone’s sworn enemy.
As they travel, Wren and Julian spend as much time fighting each other as they do the undead, but when they discover there’s more behind the kidnapping than either of them knew, they’ll need to work together to combat the real danger: a dark alliance that is brewing between the living and the undead.
Bonesmith, by author Nicki Pau Preto, is the first installment in the authors House of the Dead duology. Protagonist Lady-Smith Wren Graven, of House of Bone, has a lot to prove as she prepares the Bonewood Trails to officially become a full fledged valkrys. Bonewood is a forest of dead, soulless bones. Undead, haunted bones. The Bonewood was once a graveyard and training ground where bonesmiths tested their skills and magic and showed their mastery over the undead.
Wren tends break the rules. She's snarky, largely undisciplined and cares for little other than the approval of her father Lord-Smith Vance Graven and grandmother Lady-Smith Svetlana Graven who act as the head of her house. As a bastard-born Heir to her house many, including her own cousin, would prefer to see her fail. Just as Wren is trying to finally play by the rules, and win, she is betrayed, sabotaged, and finishes last. No longer welcome in the Bonelands, Wren is exiled to the Border Wall (Breachfort).
Upon arrival, she finds friendship with House of Gold Prince (Leo). Wren and Leo have so many similarities that they quickly become friends. Until he is kidnapped and taken into the Haunted Territory. The most curious thing happens when she encounters an Ironsmith Knight (Julian) who appears to also betrayed by his own people. Julian belongs to House of Iron, the sworn enemy of the House of Bone. Confused and alone, the two of them form a tentative alliance.
Get Leo back and figure out why everyone's trying to kill them. As they fight their way through ghosts, while discovering that things aren't what Wren was told, they come closer and closer to unraveling a conspiracy for a new war. Entertaining story. Curious world but at least the author tried to get the readers involved in how gray this world really is. I am not going to make any comparisons to Gideon the Ninth since I did not read that book, nor will I any time in the future.
Shockingly, I have also not read or watched Game of Thrones so let's just judge the book on its own merits. Loved Wren
even though she is dangerous at times. Curious about Leo and Julian and if the author decides to explore more of a physical relationship between the characters. Oh yes, the book ends on a Cliffhanger!