California Bones
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California Bones

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  147 ratings  ·  47 reviews
When Daniel Blackland was six, he ingested his first bone fragment, a bit of kraken spine plucked out of the sand during a visit with his demanding, brilliant, and powerful magician father, Sebastian.

When Daniel was twelve, he watched Sebastian die at the hands of the Hierarch of Southern California, devoured for the heightened magic layered deep within his bones.

Now, year...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 10th 2014 by Tor Books (first published May 1st 2014)
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Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
Jul 03, 2014 Carol. [All cynic, all the time] rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Lies of Locke Lamora, heists, darker UF
Recommended to Carol. [All cynic, all the time] by: Carly
You ever have that experience where you finish a book, and are left feeling all discombobulated; not sure exactly what time it is because the sun set while you were reading, and actually kind of hungry because you might have missed dinner? California Bones did that to me.

It wasn’t an instant draw; it had blipped across my radar long enough to make it onto my TBR list, but it wasn’t until bookaneer’s review that I was motivated it to move it up. I picked it up from the library and was sucked into...more
Tabitha (Pabkins)
I’ll suck the power from your bones!
*Imagine me saying that with some old crone’s voice*

California Bones has a fresh, I’ve never seen it done before, magic system in a alternate Los Angeles that hot damn, I would be scared to live in! You know how you’ve always been a bit jealous of those characters in movies or books that are magic users? Alright so maybe you haven’t, but I know I always have been – so much so that whenever I play games I always roll myself as a mage. They may be squishy and no...more
There's something about a heist. Maybe it's that peculiar combination of recklessness and calculation, that absolute guarantee of unforeseen circumstances and impressive feats of resourcefulness to combat them, that fast-paced and adrenaline-pumping game of strategy and deception. Whatever the cause, heists have a bone-deep magic all their own.

For Daniel Blackland, it all started with a kraken spine. He was a young child when he received his first taste of osteomancy, fed a scalding combination...more
4.5 Stars

Van Eekhout is an author who I wanted to check out long ago and never did. This novel made me regret it. It’s a character driven heist, with an outstanding supernatural cast of characters.

You are what you eat…

I wonder if this was a statement that Van Eekhout thought about when he created his magic system. It’s a very unique take on magic where the mages consume the bones of animals and people to gain power. Mostly the consume fossils of extinct/mythological creatures. Animals like mast...more
This book popped up on a friends(Hi Carol) update list a week or so ago and she was very enthusiastic about her experience with the book so I added it to my tbr list. I was perusing the new release section of the library and what do you know, this was sitting there waiting for me.

I blew through this in a couple of days and am really excited about the world building possibilities. The setup is familiar, the son of a powerful man...king, wizard, warrior-insert your own favorite here-has to learn h...more
Kathleen Minde
In this alternate reality novel, Southern California seceded from the United States eighty years ago. Ruled by the powerful Osteomantic wizard Hierarch, Los Angeles is now a labyrinth of canals with gondolas as the only form of transportation. Hierarch’s Circle of Six Mages includes the ageless Disney and Mulholland. All wizards of Osteomancy gain their power by eating the bones of ancient wyverns, griffins, holo stints, and even other wizards. And Daniel Blackland, trained since childhood by hi...more
This review was originally posted on Avid Reviews:

It is not often that you run across a story that is completely unique, but California Bones definitely can be described as such. It is a genre-bending novel that is somewhere between urban fantasy, alternate history, and dystopian science fiction. It takes place in Southern California (where I lived throughout my college years- though now I am back in Northern Cali) and it was fascinating to read about the pla...more

You are what you eat. In the world of CALIFORNIA BONES, magic exists even though there are few sources of it left. At the top of the heap are the osteomancers, who get their power through consuming bones. At the top of their heap is the Hierarch of Southern California, who keeps his power by periodically consuming his most powerful subordinates, including Daniel Blackland's father.

Greg van Eekhout has created an inventive type of magic and a nightmarish bureaucracy that fuel a heist plot. Now, I...more
This is one of those books that I'm very tempted to give five stars and ultimately is a 4 & 1/2 star read for me. This book has a very cool concept of osteomancy and the gaining of powers due to consumption of bones (human, non-human, etc). Daniel Blackland is one of the two main protagonists of this story who is gunning for the evil Heirarch who also caused the death of his father. Gabriel Argent is the other protagonist of the story and he's gunning for someone as well for reasons of his o...more
Pamela ☼everythings cheesy☼ Tee
CALIFORNIA BONES has some of THE best, most creative world building I've run across in a while. The way magic is handled is drool worthy. I mean, magic from bones! How cool is that.

Sample chapters if you're interested: http://booksforkids-reviews.blogspot....

And CALIFORNIA BONES is well written. The word-smithing is good. READ IT. Chances are you'll find it a satisfying read, be you Adult or Young Adult.

The only problem I had with the book is that I'm a memb...more
Osteomancy: Consume something or someone’s bones (and sometimes flesh) and gain their power (yum). For Daniel Blackland of the City of Los Angeles in the Kingdom of Southern California, this is a way of life, and of death. Daniel has been living off the grid ever since he witnessed his father’s murder (and subsequent consumption) by the oh-so evil Heirarch (yum). Now his godfather has presented him with an offer he can’t refuse. He must breach the unbreachable and retrieve, among other things, a...more
Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around. - James Weldon Johnson

CALIFORNIA BONES is an exciting romp through an alternative reality where the Kingdom of Southern California has seceded from the rest of the United States. But not only that - it is urban fantasy and the Los Angeles of the tale really is fantastical.

Daniel Blackland is the son of a powerful magician/sorcerer who died and was EATEN when Daniel was younger by Hierarch, who rules Los Angeles with a brutal hand. The practice of osteomanc...more
Yzabel Ginsberg
(I got an ARC through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

3.5/4 stars, I can't exactly decide, but let's say 4, because I really liked the world depicted in this book.

Somewhere at the end of the 19th century, or in the early 20th century, California cut ties with the rest of the USA. North and South are now separate "kingdoms", the southern one being giverned for a century by the mysterious Hierarch and his six closest associates. In itself, the back story behind this isn't extremely de...more
All Things Urban Fantasy
***Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy***

Fans of MISTBORN are going to love Greg van Eekhout’s West Coast take on the magical heist story in CALIFORNIA BONES, with its alternate Los Angeles, quirky ensemble of thieves, and introduction to osteomancy. Though I devoured it with the same gusto that the Hierarch devours the bones of Daniel’s father, the narrative moves very quickly, cramming several books’ worth of story into a single novel. There are so many fascinating aspects of the world...more
Kelly Bolduc
Daniel Blackland has been on the run since he was a young boy. After witnessing his father being killed then devoured by other powerful ostemancers, Daniel knows he needs to stay hidden or they will come for him too. In Southern California magic is everywhere, it's in the air and your bones, and people will kill you for it. Daniel is given a major job to do, infiltrate the Hierarch's Ossuary and retrieve a sword his father created using parts from Daniel's body. But once obtained will Daniel hav...more
Bills itself as a fantasy heist novel, but it's actually post-apocalyptic dystopia with a heist on top. And a great first-chapter hook. I loved the first chapter and liked the book pretty well. I don't suppose that's what the author was hoping for when he was gloating over his awesome first chapter. But then, he's got my money.

California is ruled by osteomancers -- wizards who dig up fossil bones and devour their essence. The La Brea Tar Pits were the original California mana-rush, but there's e...more
Owlcat Mountain
I don't use star ratings, so please read my review!

(Description nicked from B&

“When Daniel Blackland was six, he ingested his first bone fragment, a bit of kraken spine plucked out of the sand during a visit with his demanding, brilliant, and powerful magician father, Sebastian.

When Daniel was twelve, he watched Sebastian die at the hands of the Hierarch of Southern California, devoured for the heightened magic layered deep within his bones.

Now, years later, Daniel is a petty thief wi...more
Henry Lazarus
Greg van Eekhout has essentially the ultimate heist tale set in an alternate present where magic comes from California Bones (Hard from Tor) The Hierarch of Southern California rules the country, separate from the U.S. and killed and ate Daniel Blackland’s father as part of a purge when Daniel was twelve. Since his father’s death Daniel has been a thief on the run because the Hierarch would want his magic too. His father made a sword, locked in the Hierarch’s vault out of Daniel’s essence. The c...more
Where California Bones really shines is the fantastic world-building. Urban fantasy is almost a dime-a-dozen today, but Eekhout's newest stands above a lot of the pack with an inventive (and gruesome) magic system and coherent dystopian setting inspired by the landmarks and history of Los Angeles. The familiar twists and turns of a heist plot seem more exciting and unique, cast in the light of Eekhout's dog-eat-dog (literally) Southern California. Yes, this book involves cannibalism. There's an...more
Michael Cummings
There must be a magic to California that draws books of this genre. When I first read James Blaylock and then Tim Pratt all those decades ago, their stories tended to take place somewhere in the golden state, a place where a certain kind of magic still reigned. Sitting somewhere in the borderland between magic realism and urban fantasy, their books blended the ordinary with the extraordinary, hidden magic.

Greg Van Eekhout’s “California Bones” takes a rightful place in this pantheon. Set in a not...more
I think I can say that I overall enjoyed California Bones. It had a very interesting premise and I love books that present me with something completely new, where I need to bend my mind to fit this unique world, get a feel for it and enjoy everything that happens there.

And Greg van Eekhout has created an amazing world here. I’d love to read more from him, also set in this amazing world. And I hope then, my personal disappointment might have been worked on. I simply couldn’t get into the charact...more
May 16, 2014 Tim rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: arc
I was provided an advance copy by Tor.

I was very excited going into this book. The ideas seemed fresh. Right out the gate I was enjoying the world that was built - a familiar yet greatly fantastic version of Los Angeles. Alternate history California where Walt Disney still lives as a wizard. I was really enjoying it. Then the plot reared its head and opportunities were lost. An incredibly common plotline sits as the backbone of this potentially great story. A thief tricked into pulling heists fo...more
What can I say? This book was unexpectedly amazing. I read a review of it on i09 and thought it looked cool, so I grabbed it as soon as my local library received it. This author creates such a bizarre version of Los Angeles and southern California, due to the effect of a rather odd form of bone-magic, that I couldn't help but get completely sucked into this world. The story is presented from two points of view: Daniel, son of a powerful osteomancer (bone magician) and becoming one in his own rig...more
In an alternate LA, where magic is stored in bones, the La Brea Tar pits are a source of great power. There are only a finite number of bones in the tar however, so what happens when they start to run low? You have to start eating the bones and organs of the people who ate the La Brea bones (eww) to obtain magic. While the scientist in me was cringing at the wanton destruction of data from the tar pits, and the human in me was cringing at the cannibalism, the alternate version of my home city wa...more
Sachin Dev
The story literally flew off the pages, this one. Solid entertainment, brilliant world - intriguing magic system set in urban fantasy landscape, based on bones called Osteomancy that gives you the power of whatever animal's bones u ingest. Reminded me a bit of the Reckoners, Steelheart in the way the protagonist goes after the Hierarch but not so well fleshed out.

Overall, a good start to new series, will definitely pick up part 2 of the series !

So why read this one? Imagine the original Ocean’...more
Apr 26, 2014 Deb rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys urban fantasy
Urban fantasy fans, read and rejoice!

Osteomancy is a very special type of magic. Osteomancers become the kind of magic they consume. It leads to a Devour for Power kind of attitude. Literally.

The Hierarch, Dictator of Southern California, Osteomancer Supreme, and all around Bad Guy, needs to keep eating in order to maintain his mojo. Enter Daniel, petty thief, and son of a former Hierarchical snack du jour.His greatest desire is to remain unnoticed, and hence, alive. But Daniel is a rather unusu...more
It's been a really long time since I was forced to stay up past my bedtime because I couldn't put a book down. This one made me do it.

I loved the worldbuilding. Even though the entire book was set in Los Angeles, we get a glimpse of how this alternate world is much like, but unlike our today. Being a Los Angelina, I loved the historical figures that were featured in the book.

And, oh, the magic.... It was as fascinating as it was creepy and made sense.

I hope this was the beginning of a trilogy a...more
Stacey O'Neale
This book was reviewed by Michael Cummings, senior reviewer with Fantasy Book Addict.

There must be a magic to California that draws books of this genre. When I first read James Blaylock and then Tim Pratt all those decades ago, their stories tended to take place somewhere in the golden state, a place where a certain kind of magic still reigned. Sitting somewhere in the borderland between magic realism and urban fantasy, their books blended the ordinary with the extraordinary, hidden magic.

Jerold Farver
California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout

I liked it.

A dark, dark fantasy that doesn't tip over into horror, quite. At least to me, a new take on the source of magic and its acquisition. Not to give away too much, the closest idea I can think of as a source of inspiration is a reversal on the concept of the "sin eater."

Also by the same author:

Norse Code Norse Code by Greg Van Eekhout
Jeffrey Taylor
California Bones is a great read. My favorite part of this book is the magic system, osteomancy. The bones of mythological creatures fuel a myriad of spells and potions. The main character is able ingest bones, and gain new powers, thanks to some cellular level changes his deceased father (also a powerful osteomancer) wrought. This thoroughly original magic combined with an interesting group of secondary characters, and a heist plot that steadily ratchet's up the tension are weaved into a rich t...more
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Greg van Eekhout writes books for kids and adults. He enjoys eating little tacos, walking along the beach, and practicing kung fu. About the kung fu: He's let himself get a bit slovenly, quite frankly, so please do not challenge him to a fight. He cries easily. He's a weeper. He lives in San Diego.
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