Letters of Mass Construction

California Bones by Greg van Eekhout

I should buy myself a rubber stamp with the word sucker on it. This way when I am looking at new books and say the words, urban fantasy, heist, alternate history, genre blending, fantasy, I can just stamp my head sucker and buy it. I don’t even really know how to begin describing California Bones. At its heart it is an urban fantasy set in a Los Angeles dominated by magic and canals (you read that right, canals. It is one of my favorite parts of the book). Ruled by a nasty piece of work called the Hierarch. Calling him a brutal, tyrant of a dictator is probably too nice of a selection of words.

The magic is where the fun starts. You see bones make the magic system do its rounds. Any kind of bones; human, animal, fossils. Eekhout does a great job of building the magic system which is good because it is central to the plot. It seems the Hierarch likes to cleanse his Southern California nation of potential rivals and powerful Osteomancers (bone magicians).

This is the leaping off point where we meet young Daniel and his family. They are caught up in one of the cleansings and Daniel escapes into the city where he becomes a brilliant thief. Fast forward a few years and we get to the meat of the story. Someone hires Daniel and his crew to break into the Hierarch’s fortress.

That’s about as much of the plot as I want to give away. The joy of this book is the discovery. Eekhout does a bang up job of world building. Giving you just enough of a familiar Los Angeles to keep you guessing what surprise will come next and there are plenty of them. The book is relentless. It plows forward and barely gives you a chance to breath. Lots of action, magic, and suspense with a dash of dark grittiness thrown in for good measure.

California Bones is one of the best times I have had reading a book this year. I curled up in my reading chair yesterday and plowed through it. It is a book that is hard to put down. So hard in fact dinner was a little late. I needed to know how it finished up. The best news of all is that it is book one of a planned trilogy and book two (Pacific Fire) is already out. I know what I will be reading this week. Pick it up and set aside a few hours. You won’t regret it.

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