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California Bones (Daniel Blackland #1)

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  1,336 Ratings  ·  261 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
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 10th 2014 by Tor Books (first published May 1st 2014)
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Coolcurry Not that I remember? There was a shape shifting character that changed from male to female, so they might count as gender fluid? Overall, this isn't a…moreNot that I remember? There was a shape shifting character that changed from male to female, so they might count as gender fluid? Overall, this isn't a book I'd recommend for LGBTQ+ characters.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,336)
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Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

I don't like to endorse stereotypes, but Urban Fantasy written by male authors is almost universally darker and grittier than UF written by females. Obviously, within that much larger pool there are nonconformists: Stacia Kane, Jane Wells, even Kelley Armstrong sometimes, but on the other side . . . I can't think of one. You've got Simon R. Green's UF noir, Richard Kadrey's severed heads kept in the closet for information, and even Jim Butcher, whose Harry Dresden series
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ (of badger and SNAKE)
May 18, 2016 Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ (of badger and SNAKE) rated it really liked it
Recommended to Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ (of badger and SNAKE) by: Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads
Shelves: pnr-uf, 2016-reads

Actual rating : 3.5 stars

A strong stomach - the whole magical system revolves around eating skulls, after all. Strangely it didn't gross me out as much as I thought it would (because I am weird?!), but you might need some "adaptation time", let's say. Also, Daniel licks someone else's cup at some point. Ewww, right? (why this scene struck me like this is beyond me. Okay I lied : GERMS) Purely original, though, and a breath of fresh air in this ocean of vampires, shapeshifters and other fairies.
Dec 03, 2014 Carol. rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Lies of Locke Lamora, heists, darker UF
Recommended to Carol. 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
Mogsy (MMOGC)
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Have I mentioned how much I love a good heist? I definitely would have jumped on this book a lot sooner had known the treat I was in for. But there’s also a lot more to California Bones aside from being the ultimate fantasy crime caper novel. Author Greg Van Eekhout also wraps it all up in a cool package featuring some amazing magic, setting his story up in a savage dystopian world.

The magic system is based on osteomancy,
Richard Derus
Jan 20, 2016 Richard Derus rated it really liked it
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: 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 with a forged identity. Hiding amid the crowds in Los
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
Molly Mortensen
Dec 20, 2015 Molly Mortensen rated it really liked it
Warning: People eat people to gain powers.

My Summary:

Daniel’s father was a powerful osteomancer, someone who can gain magical abilities from eating bones. During one of the Hierarch’s cullings (Bad guy’s excuse to kill people) he’s killed by powerful magicians and then the Hierarch himself ‘gains his powers’. (Yeah it’s exactly how you think.)

Years later Daniel’s become a thief and his ‘uncle’ (a mobster type business man who essentially raised him since he was twelve) wants him to break into th
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
Jul 15, 2014 David rated it really liked it
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
Jun 23, 2015 Ctgt rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Decent story. I'll probably pick up the next two eventually. Definitely a unique magic system... #yum.
Jun 17, 2014 Monica rated it really liked it
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
Oct 19, 2014 Sunil rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, 2014
Imagine that all the mythical creatures—dragons, krakens, basilisks, and so on—were real, but now extinct, leaving only their bones. Now imagine that consuming their bones bestowed upon you their magical abilities.

Welcome to California Bones.

Greg Van Eekhout has constructed a fantastic alternate universe Los Angeles, where osteomancers can breathe fire, turn invisible, breathe underwater, and even fly, but he's gone much further than that: the existence of osteomancy has changed the development
 Charlie - A Reading Machine
Mar 29, 2015 Charlie - A Reading Machine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 4-5-stars
The start of this book is like a grisly car crash you can sense is coming but cannot look away from and I was sucked straight in. In the opening scene we meet a Daniel Blackland who is being fed a piece of Krakken bone fragment by his father. He is an Osteomancer meaning he draws magic from bone and flesh. It is his first taste of magic and the start of his journey to become a living and breathing weapon. Six years later his father is brutally killed and EATEN by the big bad Hierarch and Daniel ...more
Oct 20, 2015 Nikki rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, and then got out of the mood for it when I had started it. This time, I read it almost straight through! It’s basically a fantasy heist novel set against a really intriguing background of magic, politics and alternate history. The magic is really interesting, and mostly it’s introduced organically: it’s pretty much explained in the opening chapters, but that makes sense because Daniel is being taught osteomancy by his father. The rest, we need to pick ...more
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)

The California in California Bones is not like the one we know. It’s not part of the United States, and it’s ruled by a shadowy figure called the Hierarch and his powerful Council of Six. Los Angeles is in the Kingdom of Southern California, and is full of canals, a la Venice, and it’s rumored that a place called The Ossuary is located below ground, full of the Hierarch’s personal magic stash: basilisk teeth, griffin claws, the works. The magic in Greg van
Oct 03, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it
California Bones is a gritty, slightly canabalistic urban fantasy, but trust me, it’s quite a good read. I know, how can something be “slightly canabalistic“? Either there are canabals or there are not. Well, there are. But, it’s osteomancers that eat other osteomancers once they run out of their special magic bones to chomp down on. (Osteomancers are the magic users). But not all osteomancers go to that extreme. There is definitely one rather creepy scene that sets the tone for this, and leaves ...more
Jun 09, 2014 Liviania rated it it was amazing

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
Aug 03, 2014 Jeff rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. TOR was kind enough to send a copy for me to review and it did not disappoint. As per my understanding this is Van Eekhout's first attempt at writing a novel for adult readers and he did one hell of a job. The magic scheme was well thought out, granted I wish there was a bit more explanation and development, but super unique none the less. I could have gone for a bit more world building as well but I don't think this book was written in the idea ...more
Aug 18, 2014 Jasper rated it really liked it
originally posted at:

Did you already read the first sentence of the synopsis? If you, as a fantasy reader like me, don't want to pick up this book I don't know whats wrong with you. How cool is the promise of California Bones with the synopsis alone? Eating bones fragments to give you magical powers, that sounds pretty awesome! Added to this comes the idea of the heist theme in the story which only further makes California Bones a cracking read. Californi
Pam ☼Because Someone Must Be a Thorn☼ 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
May 16, 2014 Tim rated it liked it
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
Ralph Ambrose
Jan 18, 2015 Ralph Ambrose rated it it was amazing
I loved visiting La Brea Tar Pits as a kid, and a magic system that mines such fond childhood memories is truly enchanting.

I love the "alternate Los Angeles if magic were real" world that Eekhout has created. The reworking of LA history and culture was clever and entertaining. The food references were a nice touch, and the primary magic system (osteomancy) was interesting, unique, and its implications were reasonably well explored.

I would have liked a clearer understanding of(view spoiler)
May 08, 2016 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: urban-fantasy, 2016
I have another urban fantasy series to follow-just what I needed! Daniel Blackland is a deviation from the norm in this genre-he's not a lady shapeshifter, physically imposing or much of a fighter. He's certainly no cop or P.I. He's a thief and a con man whose very essence is magic. And he's spent most of his life keeping his head down.
I liked getting both Daniel's and Gabriel's viewpoints and that Gabriel was something of a wildcard for a while. I knew I was rooting for Daniel, but I couldn't
Megan Baxter
Jun 07, 2016 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it
I may be a sucker for heist books. It takes some talent to put together a satisfactory heist, mix in some interesting characters, and find ways for things to go wrong while still keeping your characters competent at what they do. California Bones doesn't hit the dizzying heights of, say The Lies of Locke Lamora, but it is very solid.

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantim
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
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
All Things Urban Fantasy
Jun 27, 2014 All Things Urban Fantasy rated it really liked it
***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
Sep 27, 2015 Chompa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, urban-fantasy
Wow... I read the blurb on this a while back and marked it as "To Read" thinking it sounded really interesting. It was. In fact, I don't recall the last time I sat and read 75% of a book in a single sitting.

The good:
Writing style: Eekhout's writing style is smooth, clear and easy to read. Frankly, I wish all authors could write as well.
Setting: An alternate Los Angeles where magic exists. The most powerful is Osteomancy where you gain power via bones of ancient/mythical creatures. Also - cars
Jul 03, 2014 Mihir rated it really liked it
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
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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.
More about Greg Van Eekhout...

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“The La Brea Tar Pits were a place where the skin of the world broke open to reveal the magic underneath, and the life-sized plaster mammoth sculptures emphasized a very important message: Do not fuck with the tar.” 0 likes
“The apothecary squinted. "Are you a cop?"
"Do I look like a cop? I don't even have a mustache.”
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