The Bone Charmer

Saskia is a third-generation Bone Charmer--her grandmother had First Sight ("the ability to see the past") and her mother has Third Sight ("the ability to see the future"). It's time for Saskia's kenning, a coming-of-age ceremony in which a Bone Charmer reads bones to see the teen's future, then bonds them to one of the many potential paths. Saskia knows she has Second Sight (the ability to see any present moment), but she's terrified of bone magic, so wants to stay home and be matched with her boyfriend, Declan. Unfortunately, her mother is the town Bone Charmer and she is very "concerned with preserving the family legacy."

At Saskia's kenning, her mother pronounces her a Bone Charmer and matches her with Bram, a young man Saskia believes has a shady past. Angry, Saskia breaks one of the bones, accidentally fracturing her future: "instead of possibilities," her mother tells her, "the path this bone represented may have become realities." But, she tells Saskia, only one reality can exist long-term. While Bram and Saskia the Bone Charmer sail off to their apprenticeships, other-path Saskia becomes a tutor and is paired with Declan--which reality will survive?

With chapters alternating between Saskia the Tutor and Saskia the Bone Charmer, Shields builds a world in which bones contain magic, strong emotions tattoo themselves onto people's skin and fortune-tellers are aware that nothing can be truly foretold. While internal consistency sometimes falters, the story itself is so enjoyable and Saskia's journeys so enveloping, readers are likely to sweep right past the irregularities. An exhilarating read in a fascinating world. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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