The Bone Doll's Twin by Lynn Flewelling

Where do I even begin with this book? This one has been sitting on my TBR shelf for a little over a year now and it was one of those books that I was never really in a rush to get to. I felt sort of apathetic towards it. I hadn’t heard much about it, but I did keep in the back of my mind the fact that Orson Scott Card had recommended it awhile back! I finally decided to pull it off of the shelf for the Once Upon a Time II challenge and I’m so thrilled that I did. I’m just wondering now what other unknown masterpieces are sitting on my shelf.

The Bone Doll’s Twin is quite a complex story of fantasy, dark magic, wizardry, sexual identity (wondering how that works in?), and loyalties that is intriguing, addicting, and marvelously written. It opens with an older wizard and her apprentice visiting an oracle where they are shown a vision that leads them to the bedside of the king’s sister as she is giving birth to twins. They are sent here for a reason…Skala has always been ruled by a warrior queen and King Erius has now claimed the throne for himself naming his son the sole heir to the throne. But the oracle has foretold that the king’s sister will birth a daughter who will have the rights to the throne. The problem is, the king has been killing off all females and claiming their deaths to be accidents so that tradition does not pass the throne back to a woman where it rightly lies.

A witch is called to the birthing of the king’s sisters twins. His sister gives birth first to a girl, a girl who is to become future queen of Skala but would surely be killed if the king were to know of her. The second child is a boy. The witch sadly takes the life of the boy child, but switches the sexes of the children so that the living girl appears to be a boy until she can rightly take her place as queen of Skala. The boy now looks as if he were a girl and it is told to the king that she (in reality “he”) was a stillborn. The living “boy” is named Tobin.

The main story of The Bone Doll’s Twin follows Tobin as he grows up as a prince not knowing that he is actually a girl or what his destiny is. Tobin does however learn that he did have a brother that did not survive as his brother’s spirit is restless and comes back to be his twin afterall, eventually becoming known to the entire country as “Tobin’s ghost”. Tobin most certainly does not lead a normal life as you can imagine. His mother knows what has happened to her lost child as she also see’s the dead child and Tobin suffers for it as she is constantly in mourning often making muslin dolls without faces. One doll in particular seems to connect her with the ghost of her lost twin and it is from this that we get the title of our book.

I really could go on forever about this book, but I’ll just stop there. It’s fascinating, it’s wonderful, it’s everything I hope for in a book. It’s seriously one of the best fantasy books I’ve read and I’m really shocked that she hasn’t gotten more exposure for this series. I can’t wait to get my hands on the second book in the Tamir Triad. This was just such a unique idea for a series and the writing was so exquisite. One main problem that I normally have with fantasy is that there’s some story line that I’m not interested in or that bores me to tears and when the author switches to a chapter from that perspective I think “oh no…” But that never happened with this book. I really loved every page of this novel.

There’s magic galore, mystery, darkness, love scenes, sword fighting, war, and a beautiful coming of age story with one of the most clever twists I’ve read. On a scale of 1 to 5, this one gets a 6! ok…that’s cheating…a 5. Ok…maybe an extra point too for the cool John Jude Palencar cover 😉

Oh, by the way…I joined 2 more challenges :p Becky’s 42 Challenge and Darla’s Irresistible Review Challenge. Find out all about them by clicking on the links! They’re both incredible challenges 🙂

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23 Responses

  1. I just love it when a book makes me excited ! For one thing I know I will re read it, and for another, I have no problem at all writing about it!

    Are you getting excited to start your job?? (duh lol)

  2. You always discover such cool books! Gender identity is something that really interests me (thus part of the appeal of Middlesex – but only part, as there’s so much more in that book), and that combined with fantasy can only result in a winner. So yeah…I will definitely read this one.

  3. Wow…this does sound fantastic! I’d never heard of it before. You just may end up with a point over this one 😉

  4. I’m so happy you’ve joined both of those challenges. When I saw the posting about the “Irresistable Review” challenge I immediately thought of you. That plus, Debi’s new blame-game philosophy of blogging made my day yesterday 🙂

    This is a title I’d love to read at some point, but my library doesn’t have it–nor any by this author. So I guess I’ll just have to wait and hope they will someday. 🙂 Maybe it’ll get a burst of popularity–it sounds like it deserves it!

    I see you’re “currently reading” The Dead and The Gone. You’ll have to let me know what you think about it!

  5. I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed this one! For Once Upon a Time I chose Flewelling’s Luck in the Shadows (the first book in the Nightrunner series) and absolutely loved it! (I quickly devoured the second book and it’s taking a crazy amount of will power to stay away from the third until the fourth comes out this June.) Anyway…I’ve picked up this title several times since discovering the author, but, for some reason, kept putting it back. Next time I’ll have to pick it up for keeps! Thanks for the wonderful review!

  6. Like you I have had this on my shelf for a while now and haven’t yet gotten around to it. After reading your review I hope to bump it up my list and read the whole series.

  7. Deslily, This is one that I can definitely see myself rereading further down the line and I’m not even a big rereader…it always seems like I have something else that needs to be read first! It’s such a great book though and I think that you would really enjoy it! And I’m super excited about the new job!!! One more week!

    Nymeth, Glad to hear that you plan on reading this one..you’ll love it, I’m sure of it. It’s fantastic. Literally loved every page of it. It was just so original.

    Debi, I hadn’t heard of it before either until OSC mentioned it. I’m so glad I discovered it though. Yay, a possible point! 😉

    Becky, The new challenges are so great…and don’t you just love Debi’s new point system! Cracks me up, lol. It’s so sad that Flewelling’s books aren’t in the library…doesn’t seem like she’s that well known which really sucks. I couldn’t find much except for this series at the bookstore the other day either. That’s ashame because she’s a fantastic writer from the looks of this book. The Dead and The Gone is great so far! I’m about halfway through it. Though I have to say I liked LAWKI better, but this one’s still great!

    Chelle, I’m definitely going to The Nightrunner series after this series if I like the rest of the series half as much as I enjoyed the first book. She’s such a great writer, isn’t she? I really hope you get to this one when you get a chance…it’s fantastic!

    Rhinoa, Cool! Glad to hear that you have it sitting on your shelf waiting to be read. It’s really a great book! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did…good to have you back by the way 😉

  8. It sounds absolutely terrific! I have wanted to buy that one for a long time because of the marvelous Palencar cover. Good to know I have another reason to buy it now!

  9. ~~Sigh, sigh, sigh~~ Another for my TBR list. Thanks, Chris!

  10. I haven’t read this series but have been wondering about it after enjoying Flewelling’s Nightrunner books a *lot*. Good to know that the Tamir Triad is also excellent so I’ll put it on my ‘to read at some stage’ list.

  11. You know, I”ve probably had this book on my shelf longer than you. A friend recommended it to me. I figure I’ll get to it one of these days. There really are just too many good books out there!

    I saw Darla’s post too. Sheesh. At this point, I’ve all but decided it’s useless to try to resist. There’s no way I can ever finish all my challenges…but I love trying!

  12. This sounds really really interesting!! I like the concept. It must have been interesting to have that in a fairy-tale setting.

  13. Yaay! You liked it! I’m so glad, and it looks like now there’s two of us who’ve read it!! I don’t know which is neater, the ghost haunting her (that she thinks is real) or the fear the king will discover who she is….it really is a wonderful fantasy. the creepy doll…..oh my, I am going to have to go back and reread book 1 so I can read book 3, on my tbr pile this year! Now if we can just get the book into other bookstores so more people can read it!!! *sigh* I’ll take a look at the challenges and let you know…sci-fi one already sounds irresistible. Darn.

  14. Carl, Definitely pick it up next time you have a chance. It’s a fantastic read and I’ll be recommending it to everyone I know! And the Palencar cover is great. I really love his art.

    Chartroose, Sorry :/ I swear I didn’t mean to topple the pile over! lol…

    Cath, Another vote for the Nightrunner books! I’m going to have to go out and get those soon. Sounds like they’re another winner. I’m so impressed by Flewelling’s writing. Really magnificent!

    Stephanie, Don’t I know that feeling of way too many good books being out there! I’ve had this one on my TBR shelf since Christmas 06, and I’m just getting around to it :p As far as challenges go, I’ve adopted the same mentality as you…just join away but know that you probably won’t ever finish them!

    Kim, It is really interesting! Great concept and a great read overall. I think you’d enjoy it quite a bit!

  15. Susan, I LOVED it! There’s two of us who’ve read it, lol…that’s sad! I’m so glad that you’ve read it too though. It was just a perfectly written book. I love fantasy and I love horror and it was a perfect marriage of the two. I loved the creepy doll..I kept wondering if someone had made them and sold them on some fansite or something. I’d love to see it! And you should definitely join the sci-fi challenge. It’s really cool. You don’t even have to commit to reading anything if you’re feeling overwhelmed with books! Just watch star trek!

  16. The book sounds dark and magical – seems like something I would like. Hee.

    But the sexual confusion bit – er, is it even plausible?

  17. This one looks like a winner! Oh no, another book added to my wish list! Hahaha 🙂

  18. […] (the Nightrunner series) and I’d been meaning to give this one a go, but…After reading Chris’s review it’s no longer one I can put […]

  19. I love the Palencar cover and the book sounds great. Thanks for the heads up on this one. I had never heard of it but I plan on adding to my wishlist. I hope allis going well with your Dad!

  20. I haven’t gotten to the third but the second is also very good. More throne intrigue and lots about the haunting. I’ve had the first book in the Nightrunner series for a couple months so it sounds like i should try that one soon!

  21. I received this for my borthday today! Yeah me. I’m not sure how soon I will get to it but I’ll let you know my thoughts when I do. I really do think it sounds great.

  22. Sounds fab, I think this one has to go on my “List”, particularly for the fab Palencar cover!

  23. I need to do a better job of reading here. I love Orson Scott Card so now I must read this book, but I also want to read your posts about the teens and a bunch more stuff.

    THanks for the book idea

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