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arc review: the bones of ruin || a girl who cannot die in a Tournament of Freaks

Book Cover

Author: Sarah Raughley

Rating: 3 stars

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Historical

Series: #1

A fantasy story with influential people in politics, dark secrets, and too much power play – set in Victorian London, as we follow a “Strange” girl Iris, who is strange not just because she is an African tightrope dancer but because she can never die. Iris has no memories of her past and is hell bent on discovering who she is, when she meets the alluring and handsome Adam Temple, who seems to know much more about her than he lets on. The Enlightenment Committee, a mysterious order, conducts a Tournament of Freaks to help them choose leader for the upcoming apocalypse.

As expected, Adam wants Iris to be his champion and promises the truth about her in return.

Who doesn’t like a fierce competition with vicious fighters blessed with fantastical abilities?

Personally, I think that it was very brave for the author to give Iris such an ability because it does somewhat lower the stakes. This book gives off very heavy Hunger Games vibes, and to some extent the competition felt a lot like the one in Throne of Glass. Nevertheless, Iris is an incredibly interesting character and it was really intriguing to watch the author push her into extreme situations despite her invincibility. Her character for some reason reminded me of the big guy from the Jessica Jones tv show.

The book opens with Adam’s pov and I am not exaggerating when I say that you will immediately find yourself drawn to the book, the plot, the concept, and the character. Although, the book succeeds in grasping your attention at the very beginning, the slow pacing did kinda draw me out of the book but the element of mystery makes up for it. The language was not exactly smooth flowing but it was fairly easy enough to follow. There were certain twists and turns to throw the reader off track, but nothing too surprising or unpredictable.

I think Iris’s friends were my absolute favorite part of this book! It has a mild found-family trope feel to it and their interactions, constant saving each others lives, and looking out for each other was everything. I wish there was more context and content in regards to the side characters because some of them felt more compelling that Iris’s character, while some felt a bit too underdeveloped because of the focused focus on Iris.

Which brings me to the most admiral aspect of the book and that is how the author seamlessly ties in pretty heavy topics such as life for a woman of color (Iris) in Victorian London. I loved how she subtly shed light on racism and sexism and it was endearing at times because it felt like she was literally calling out people.

All in all the book was pretty enjoyable with the puzzles, the enchanting setting, the fantastical elements. What bugged me though was – the romance.

I mean, what was it? I really didn’t get it. Honestly, I am still not sure what exactly it was all about. It was like this weird love square of sorts? I don’t know. This brought the rating down by one star for me. There was little chemistry and the bickering felt a bit forced for me. The romantic sub-plot of this book is still a huge question mark for me.

Overlooking the romance, I would recommend this book if you are a fan of Hunger Games, Throne of Glass series, and Marvel Movies. If you love secret orders, dark personalities, and intense political power play – definitely check this out!

Release Date: September 7th, 2021

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Get the book: bookshop

Know more: Goodreads


Up for grabs will be TWO (1) finished copies of The Bones of Ruin by Sarah Raughley. This giveaway will be open to U.S. residents only and will run from August 29th to September 13th at 11:59 PM CST. Two winners will be chosen. To enter, click here!

Sarah Raughley grew up in Southern Ontario writing stories about freakish little girls with powers because she secretly wanted to be one. She is a huge fangirl of anything from manga to SF/F TV to Japanese Role Playing Games, but she will swear up and down that she was inspired by ~Jane Austin~ at book signings. On top of being a YA Writer, she is currently completing a PhD in English, because the sight of blood makes her queasy (which crossed Medical School off the list).

*thank you so much to Turn the Pages Tour for selecting me as a tour host. thank you to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. all opinions are my own.*

16 thoughts on “arc review: the bones of ruin || a girl who cannot die in a Tournament of Freaks

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