California Bones
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

California Bones

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  290 ratings  ·  84 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)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about California Bones, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about California Bones

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,783)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
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...more
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
Pamela ☼where's my aspirin☼ 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
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...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
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
Shannon Flowers
California Bones is the start of a new fantasy trilogy for van Eekhout, who previously wrote Young Adult books such as The Boy at the End of the World. Bones is set in an alternate Southern California, mostly in Los Angeles, and tells the story of Daniel Blackhand who’s father was killed by the Hierarch, Southern California’s ruling body. The magic in the story is based on Osteomancy, the idea that magic is contained in your body and bones. To gain new powers, the magicians must consume bits of...more

3,5 stars

This story started so good.
It introduced one of the craziest, creepiest magical systems I read. Hero is an osteomancer- that means he draws magic from bones of mythical hydra for selfhealing or mastadon for speed. Since in this world magic is ingested, bad guy came to idea that he doesn't need to scavenge and dig for rare bones of this creatures- he can just eat osteomancers and mages who did that and take their power. Lovely fellow isn't he?
Well, we got really cool Harr...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'm a sucker for books that offer a clever twist on a familiar setting or plot, so I had loads of fun reading California Bones. Here is an alternate California ruled by magic, where the streets of LA are Venice-like canals and the Hierarch rules the kingdom of Southern California. The inventive sorcery in this world so osteomancy. Osteomancers ingest the fossil bones of fantastical creatures found in the La Brea tar pits, including fire drakes, krakens, and eocorns. When this non-renewable resou...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
Harry Potter meets Hannibal Lecter. In a heist movie.

There is so much to love about this book I'm not sure where to begin. Van Eekhout has created a world where magic feels grounded in nature, yet comes with the risk of horrific costs of its own. Granted, parts of the story feel a bit rushed, and a couple of escapes from major plot turns come far too easily for his protagonist (a great many things come too easily for the protagonist), but the world, characters and prose are compelling enough th...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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 59 60 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Child of a Hidden Sea (Hidden Sea Tales, #1)
  • The Oversight (Oversight Trilogy, #1)
  • City of Stairs
  • Night Terrors (Shadow Watch, #1)
  • Unwept (The Nightbirds, #1)
  • Artemis Awakening (Artemis Awakening, #1)
  • Peacemaker (Peacemaker, #1)
  • Afterparty
  • Unwrapped Sky (Caeli-Amur, #1)
  • The Fifth Season
  • Queen of the Dark Things
  • Lagoon
  • All Those Vanished Engines
  • Flight of the Golden Harpy
  • The Mirror Empire (Worldbreaker Saga, #1)
  • Shoggoths in Bloom and other stories
  • Quintessence
  • Sin City Goddess (Secret Goddess, #1)
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...
Norse Code The Boy at the End of the World Kid vs. Squid Last Son of Tomorrow In The Late December

Share This Book