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Amassia #1

Crown of Bones

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Raise. Your. Phantom.

For fans of epic fantasies and sweeping adventures, this ensemble cast will immerse you in a world of unique magic, breathtaking action and unforgettable characters.

In a world on the brink of the next Great Dying, no amount of training can prepare us for what is to come …

A young heir will raise the most powerful phantom in all of Baiseen.

A dangerous High Savant will do anything to control the nine realms.

A mysterious and deadly Mar race will steal children into the sea.

And a handsome guide with far too many secrets will make me fall in love.

My name is Ash. A lowly scribe meant to observe and record. And yet I think I’m destined to surprise us all.

400 pages, Hardcover

First published January 5, 2021

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About the author

A.K. Wilder

2 books317 followers
Kim, born in the time of Gemini, is a fifth-generation decedent of the Wilders of Santa Cruz. In the spirit of adventure, she moved to Australia in 1981 and has lived there ever since.

She writes Epic Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fantasy and Urban Fantasy under her birth name Kim Falconer.

The pen name A. K. Wilder is for her Young Adult books, a name chosen to honor the original custodians of her birth land – the Awaswas people – and the collaborations with her son Aaron.

Kim has a Masters degree in writing from Swinburne University in Melbourne and, being an astrologer like her father before her, runs the online educational site, GoodVibeAstrology.com.

A bone thrower by trade, have a go at your own cast on akwilder.com.

Currently, Kim lives near the sea with her son, grand-kids and two divinely spotted cats.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 378 reviews
Profile Image for Lucie V..
996 reviews1,611 followers
November 12, 2022
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley (thank you Entangled Publishing). All thoughts and opinions are my own.

✅ Magic system
✅ World-building
✅ Characters
✅ Action and some politics
✅ Friendship / Childhood best friends
✅ Plot
✅ Multiple POVs
❗️❗️ Kind of cliffhanger

Strong 4 stars

To keep his place as Heir of his country, Marcus needs to travel to the island of Aku where he will learn to control his mighty warrior phantom and earn his yellow savant robes. He takes with him Ash, his best friend, and non-savant (non-magical) wordsmith to record his journey, Pipper and Samsen as guards, and Belair, another savant needing to earn his yellow robes. During their crazy adventure, they meet Kaylin, a handsome and mysterious sailor that will become their guide. I liked how this story starts with a group of friends and strangers, and we see them evolve until they end up growing into a tightly-knit unit.

"Remember to keep the company's number to five. In spite of the autumn chill, optimism wins out. Surprise comes from the sea. Don't resist it. When in doubt, go north. A sword brings truth and deception. Do not raise your phantom until safe on Aku."

Crown of Bones is a story of adventure, determination, and friendship. The magic system is original and easy to understand. Savants can call forth a phantom, and as they gain power and mastery over their phantom, they acquire robes of different colors, brown being the lowest, then there is blue, green, yellow, orange, and red being the highest rank. There are also black robes, but they are in another category. People that do not have the power to raise a phantom are non-savants and are sadly often considered a little less important or worthy than the savants.

Even among the phantoms, there are different categories with different abilities. Callers can call objects to them, Alters can change forms, and Warriors and Healers are pretty much self-explanatory.

Politic-wise, this book is not the most complex, but it is so packed with action and lovable characters that it’s hard to put it down. The author did a good job with world-building and establishing the relationships between the different countries, without having an info dump in the first few chapters. We can see which countries are allied with which because of the hints in the conversations or the way characters interact together, not because it is explicitly said on every other page and I liked that because an info dump often negates the immersive quality of a world-building. The main antagonist could have been made clearer a little earlier in the book because for the first 75% of the story it was mostly about Marcus trying to earn his yellow robes and survive the journey, but the bigger plot was not that clear. It was still very entertaining and fast-paced enough to be addictive.

“They are our people, she tells me. We don’t leave our people behind.”

The character development in this story is well done and I enjoyed reading the different points of view. Ash is a great female character, she is clever, resilient, and bold, yet she yearns to fit in and to have power like the savants. Her story is quite relatable, and it shows the importance of accepting and embracing who you are. Of course, we see hints throughout the book that she is more powerful than she thinks, but she does not realize it until the very end of the book. She has yearned for more her entire life but learned to be grateful and content with what she has, yet we can still see how it bothers her at times to be an orphan non-savant in a world ruled by savants.

Marcus is also a nice, but sometimes contradictory main character; he is the heir of Baiseen and thinks that diplomacy is the best solution to solve problems, yet is often stuck in his biased beliefs when it comes to inhabitants of other countries. He can’t stomach the idea of killing a man, yet he raises the only warrior phantom of his country. He grows and changes a lot in the book though, and he is learning to see and accept his true self, but there is still room for improvement and for him to become much more interesting.

Kaylin is an awesome character. He changes the whole dynamic of the group once he joins them, starting with the relationship between Ash and Marcus. He also had me question everything because I couldn’t know for sure until the last part of the book if he was a character with evil intent that had changed his mind and redeemed himself, if he was pretending to befriend Marcus’s group with the intent to hurt them in the end, or if he was just a suspicious but truly kind and helpful character.

There is a hint of romance in this book, but it is not the main focus at all, and it remains very mild. We can see that there is attraction, and maybe even jealousy between some of the characters, but romance takes the backseat in this adventure full of action. I was afraid that there would be a love triangle at first between the childhood best friend and the mysterious swoon-worthy new addition to the group, but thankfully it did not go that direction. I have nothing against love triangles, but I am very picky and if the MC does not end with the love interest I was rooting for I get SO disappointed and frustrated! 😅 That being said, the hint of romance we have here felt more mature than your usual YA romance. Both characters fully acknowledged their feelings from the beginning and talked about it to decide a course of action, instead of being weird about it and having tons of miscommunication. It felt good to see teenagers act more mature when it comes to physical attraction/crush/romance.

Overall this is a great debut and I can’t wait to see what will happen in the second book!

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Profile Image for Shauni .
274 reviews234 followers
September 12, 2021
Many thanks to Entangled Teen for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book has everything I look for in a YA fantasy. An unassuming yet charming MC who finds herself joining up with a band of quirky friends on a journey that turns out nothing like they expected. There's adventure on land and high-sea. A unique magic system, topped off with suspense and a budding romance.

The characters are well-developed and the world-building was easy to follow yet immersive. I really enjoyed the alternating POVs, Kaylin's perspective and somewhat morally grey character becoming my favorite. The book concluded with an explosive ending that left me wanting the next one...right now. Can't wait to find out what happens next! I absolutely loved it.
Profile Image for A.K. Wilder.
Author 2 books317 followers
August 16, 2022
This book is my heart. Waiting on more edits. So excited about the Cinco de Mayo release date!

Check the new site - akwilder.com> - for concept art, excerpts and all the behind the scenes goodies.

YES! You can throw the bones for a card reading too. :)

I can't wait to hear what you all think!

All paths are good,

Profile Image for Arundhati.
156 reviews43 followers
June 16, 2021
5 shining stars to this fantastic debut. This book had every fantasy trope I like. An ensemble cast, a treacherous journey both over land and sea, an amazing romance and an absolutely unique magic system. This one is a high fantasy with multiple POVs. It was just chef's kiss amazing.

The book has two main POVs that of Marcus and Ash. Marcus is the heir to the throne while Ash is one of the scribes. Their society is divided into different sects based on the type of phantoms they raise and the level of advancement they have achieved. Phantoms are these creatures which can be summoned on will and have different abilities like shape shifting, healing , extra ordinary strength etc. The people who can raise phantoms are called Savants. The non savant are the lowest of the sects and often prejudiced on. Upon being able to summon one's phantom, a Savant is suppose to undertake a journey to Aku, one of their sacred places wherein they receive advance training. Apart from all this there are other different political drama going on with some myths and legends also coming into picture. Overall the premise is very multi- layered. And the author has so cleverly laid so many questions and done the setup for the coming books. The writing is simple, straightforward and very engaging. I love the fact that the chapters are multiple POV and short, so I got to know more of what everyone was thinking and the direction the story was going. It definitely added to make the story more engaging.

Coming to my favorite part, the characters. I actually loved each one of them. I loved this crew struggling for survival.

Marcus - He is the heir to the throne and the one raising one of the most powerful phantoms. At the beginning he comes off as very insecure and unsure of his place as he is unable to hold his phantom's form. But as the journey proceeds he surprised me a lot. In the beginning there definitely is hint of a love triangle which worried me. Childhood-best-friend vs the-swoony-new-bad-boy. But I am so glad it was nothing like I imagined. Even though Marcus felt jealous, he handled it so well. He always thought of Ash's happiness. Even though he is distrusting of Kaylin, this does not bias his judgement and he always takes his decisions very objectively. It was refreshing to see him act so mature. Not only him but all the characters I think. And it definitely made me love these characters much much more. It would be interesting to see how his character progresses. There is a lot of chances of his character crossing to the other side. He tries so hard to be good and make good decisions but will he be able to continue doing that??

Ash - Ok she is absolutely adorable. The banter she has with her inner voice is so so funny. Her inner monologues are something I lived for. I think hers were my favorite chapters. She is intelligent, brave and very loyal. She is so kind and easily trusting I would say. I am so excited for her especially after the end reveal. I knew it was coming still. I am just sitting here cheering for KaylinxAsh. They are just perfect and need to be protected at all costs.

Kaylin - Ahh the mysterious sailor. He piqued my interest the instant he entered the scene. He is so perfect and respectful, not an arrogant, cocky know it all. He is so incredible yet very humble. You can have my heart already❤. His secrets are going to play a major role in the story I know it and I sincerely hope it wouldn't sink my KaylinxAsh ship. He is such a gentleman and a charmer. I just loved him to pieces. His character is definitely tending towards gray morality which would probably be explored more in the next books and I cannot wait to see it.

Apart from these 3 there are a bunch of supporting characters, who do contibute to the story and I wish they were explored more. I would definitely love to get to know them more. I loved the phantom savant interactions a lot. Loved De'ral in all his sulkiness. So cute. The book is very action packed. A lot of time is spent while travelling from A to B and then back from B to A. It might be a deterrent to a few who prefer more plot progression but I personally don't mind at all. As I said I love a journey story.All in all I was really really impressed by the whole story. And I am definitely gonna pick up the nect as soon as it comes out because I need answers.

PS : I have to mention about the romance in this book. It's not the typical teen angsty romance. While I like an angsty romance on occassion, but really they are very tiresome. With all the will they won't they and constant miscommunciations. The romance here was more mature. Both the parties acknowledging their feelings from the beginning and also acting on it. I loved their mutual understanding and trust. It truly warmed my heart. #Damn_the_protocols_to_the_Drop 😘

Raise. Your. Phantom
Profile Image for Celia.
Author 6 books479 followers
December 25, 2020
Thank you, Edelweiss and Entangled for the review copy :D

Crown of Bones gives us a unique fantasy where people called Savants are able to conjure familiar-type creatures called Phantoms. With a mix of Avatar and Final Fantasy, it packs a punch with its interesting spin on a world where magic collides with political intrigue.

But unfortunately, this book did not do it for me.

I struggled with this review a lot because I did not hate the book, but certain niggling things hindered my experience. One was that I did not connect with any of the characters. They all felt one dimensional, and honestly, I could not tell them apart if I happened to miss the chapter title. They seemed to lack depth. Maybe I wanted more of a backstory for them all so I know who I'm rooting for, but what you see is what you get and I had a hard time.

I really wish Ash was fleshed out more. She seemed like the most interesting of the bunch and her journey was glossed over for a lot of the book just to make eyes with the love interest and talk to her "inner self". I knew what the endstate was going to be for her, but I literally had to get through 500 pages for the reveal that was mediocre at best. Ash deserved better.

Marcus had the potential to become something much more interesting. We know he struggles with his phantom, and the potential there for his character arc to be explosive just did not come. It felt more like a sigh than a battle cry.

Kaylin, the mysterious seaman, came in as a love interest and became something a bit more interesting, but still, he lacked richness and he lacked depth. All he was to me was a guy with muscles that Ash ogled over.

The plot mostly moves along at a very fast pace, but not much happens to teach our characters a lesson. Things just happen and that's it. The premise is good, but I did not see a true antagonist until the last quarter of the book.

The world-building was stellar but was not a driver to this story. Lack of clear motivations, poor execution, and unclear character arcs really didn't help the slow pacing by the midpoint part of the book to the point where I almost marked this as a DNF. But determined to get through 2020 with only a handful of DNF's I trudged on.

I'm really sad that I didn't enjoy the book as much as I hoped I would, but I know a lot of people will love it. But I was not one of them and I probably won't continue the series.
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,675 reviews456 followers
January 28, 2021
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I loved this book! I really didn't know a whole lot about this book but I thought it sounded interesting so I decided to give it a try. I am so glad that I did because I was completely captivated by the amazing storytelling within its pages. I hated to put the book down when I had to do other things and when I wasn't reading, I was thinking about this story. It was one of those rare books that just worked for me on every level.

The world-building in this book was top notch. Everything that we needed to know was worked into the story just when we needed that information. The people in this world are born with special abilities or not. Those that may have some ability are trained to see if they are able to raise a phantom and once they master that skill with some control they go to Aku to train. Marcus is the Heir but he has struggled to hold his phantom until this year, which happens to be his final chance. He, along with his chosen team of friends, head off to Aku to start their journey.

The characters were phenomenal. I cared for this group of young adults and wanted to see things work out for them. Marcus has worked very hard and it almost seems that fate is against him but he keeps pushing forward. Ash has been Marcus's best friend for a long time and she goes on the journey as the record keeper. Ash is non-savant but she is more than capable of holding her own. These two are the main focus of the book and most of the chapters are told from one of their points of view with the addition of a few additional viewpoints scattered throughout the book. The supporting characters were all very well done and added something to the story.

This story was exciting! Nothing was easy for this group of characters and I never knew what was going to happen next. They all go through a lot in this book and things look like they are not going to go their way more than once. There were few scenes that were so intense that I was totally lost in the story and was almost holding my breath waiting to see how things would work out. There is some violence in the story and I liked the fact that we get to see the toll it takes on the characters.

I would highly recommend this book to others. I found this to be a really unique and well-done world and I fell in love with the characters. I cannot wait to read future installments in this fabulous series!

I received an advanced review copy of this book from Entagled: Teen.
Profile Image for ♠ TABI⁷ ♠.
Author 15 books478 followers
Want to read
October 12, 2019
so!! many!! stunning!! covers!! for 2020!!

also if they don't literally throw bones at least once in here I am going to be disappointed
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,072 reviews215 followers
January 18, 2021
I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I feel like one of those people who run marathons. Or compete in triathlon's. Which, I guess, is a weird thing to say because I'm comparing people exercising to me reading the Crown of Bones. Then again, I was exercising my brain in order to understand everything that was happening within this book. It is still weird to state such a thing.. but this book took me forever to complete and I just think it would take me forever to complete a marathon and such.

Back to the book, in the beginning the prologue definitely sucked me in. I just wanted to know more about phantoms and this entire world. Then I got to meet the characters and eh - they were okay. I honestly didn't care for the little romance bits and pieces.. or even the hints of betrayal. Heck, I will even admit that Ash definitely intrigued me.. but nothing really happened until the end of the book.

At least for her. She was just kind of in the background for most of this book and I'm just like.. 'Wait, aren't you a main character girl?' Besides her, you get to meet Marcus and Kaylin. Again, none of these characters really caught my attention. They had potential to do so but in the end nothing really happened.

In the end, it was an okay book with zero consequences. It's like something would happen and they would just go on with their lives. Then the ending was kind of interesting.. but I don't even know if I want to dive into the sequel because of the nothingness in this book. Maybe if there's some serious character growth..
Profile Image for Katie Prouty.
408 reviews108 followers
November 30, 2020
"Remember to keep the company's number to five. In spite of the autumn chill, optimism wins out. Surprise comes from the sea. Don't resist it. When in doubt, go north. A sword brings truth and deception. Do not raise your phantom until safe on Aku."

Marcus Adicio, son of the Magistrate, Heir to the Throne, and a green-robed savant from Baiseen, on his initiation journey to the Isle of Aku. His warrior phantom has taken form, shared his name, and is more present. More real. Ash, the non-savant on the excursion, is the scribe meant to observe and record. Along with three other savants, the company come into predicament after predicament on their travels. What more could possibly go wrong? Lucky for the lot, the mysterious bosun's mate of the Sea Eagle, Kaylin, will lead them to Aku. Thank the bones. However, the sailor is harboring secrets. The sea is enigmatic... the legendary Mar race steal children into the salty waters. Ash and Marcus's world is on the verge of the next Great Dying. Amassia's second sun is nigh. Will the company's journey be the one before chaos consumes the realms?

What a phenomenal, epic fantasy from A.K. Wilder! Political mishmash and intrigue. Thrill of adventure. Swoony romance. Deception. I am enamored with these characters! Ash's inner dialogue is giving me life! I snort-laughed over her inner voice's witty banter and clever quips. SO much snark going on in her head. HERE for it! #IsThisAKissingBook- Dang those protocols to the Drop, yup! 🥰 Kaylin...

Oh, by the Deep, I LOVE HIM! Aye, my sailor. He has me curious though! I adore how he calls Ash, lass. His girl. I ship you Kaylin & Ash. Kash=The OTP. Readers are going to will their eyeballs to read faster as revelations are exposed. "Chop-chop, with the murdering." GASP! Raise. Your. Phantoms! Crown of Bones is an essential read for YA fantasy devotees of Margaret Rogerson, Adrienne Young, and Leigh Bardugo. Readers must preorder CoB.

Thank you Entangled Teen and AK Wilder for an advanced copy. I devoured it! 👏🏼🤟🏼

🎵 song: Salt by Eivor 🎵
Profile Image for Kelly.
1,310 reviews501 followers
January 23, 2021
Sadly, this book is going to go in the big pile of YA-Fantasies-with-a-gorgeous-cover-but-a-fail-nonetheless.

The cover and synopsis hooked me and I was excited to dive into the audiobook. Unfortunately, while I liked the beginning and it seemed promising (with the phantom and Ash's voice in her head) it quickly turned boring and nothing really grabbed me. Some things happened at the end but it was too little too late and I just didn't care anymore by that point.
Profile Image for M.K..
Author 1 book22 followers
January 2, 2021
Thanks for the free copy of Crown of Bones. All opinions are my own. The full review is available here.

The story follows Ash - a girl, seemingly without powers in a world of savants wielding phantoms, who's destined to record history but never make it, and Marcus - an heir to a throne threatened from all sides including from the inside. When Marcus is finally capable of summoning and holding to form his warrior phantom, they take the last chance travel to the island of Aku, where Marcus is to train and improve his control over the phantom. But a traitorous plot unfolds while they're on the island, and it forces them in a wild race back to Marcus' kingdom.

The main reason I somewhat enjoyed the book was how it reminded me of Shaman King with the phantoms and their savants. That being said, I found its pace to be excruciating - very slow while they're trying to reach the island of Aku, and after that, everything started happening at once. As you can expect from such a story, there's a whole host of characters, and some of them felt painfully underdeveloped. In fact, the only characters that seemed to have some meat on their bones were the POV ones (there are three POVs). The other two things that reduced my rating dramatically were the fact that it didn't feel like there were real stakes for the characters, everything worked out every time, AND that cliffhanger at the end. I see the logic behind it, but such cliffhangers don't sit well with me as a reader.

Still, the world of Crown of Bones is quite imaginative, although it gets info-dumped from time to time. It was something refreshing, and I enjoyed exploring it.
Profile Image for Tricia.
658 reviews24 followers
December 30, 2020
This was a fabulous debut YA epic fantasy adventure! The worldbuilding was top notch, a vast fantastical world that we've only just been introduced to. I'm super curious and excited to see even more of the inner depths explored in coming novels.

The characters were compelling and mostly multifaceted. I would have loved to see more past the surface on a few of the side characters, but we got a good feel for quite a few of them and that was nice. I think the alternating POV chapters helped us get a good feel for the main characters. The 'inner phantom' dialogues could be a smidge confusing at first, discerning whether they were speaking to someone aloud or the phantom inside. After awhile it became pretty seemless though, which was kinda surprising and impressive to be honest. The phantoms in general were such a cool idea and I really enjoyed that element.

The journey was fraught with danger (and excitement!) from the very beginning and it pretty well kept it up till the end. Even the more down training type time had its perils. The tale ended in a good spot, even if it was a massive cliffhanger. I'll definitely be anxiously awaiting the sequel!

I received an arc of this book from Entangled: Teen via Netgalley and this is my honest review.
Profile Image for ..
106 reviews21 followers
December 7, 2020
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book through Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

[September 29th, 2019]: this cover is literally the sexiest thing i've ever seen in my life ngl :o
Profile Image for Chelsie.
110 reviews40 followers
February 22, 2021
Thank you to Entangled Teen and Netgalley for this free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!

Rating: 3.5 stars (between I liked it and really liked it according to the Goodreads scale)

Marcus Adicio is the Heir to the throne of Baiseen. He can only keep the title if he can reach the legendary Isle of Aku, master his phantom, and earn his yellow robes. No pressure, right? Along for the journey is his best friend and recorder Ash, a non-savant ward of Master Brogal who dreams of visiting all the realms of Amassia.

To be honest, I wasn't really feeling this book until the end. Here are some of the reasons:

- The lack of world building. Rules of the realms seemed to be revealed only for them to be broken in the next passage. For example, Ash wasn't supposed to be allowed to go on the journey to Aku because she's non-savant, meaning she can't raise a phantom. Then the next scene is her packing to go on the trip. We aren't shown how this came to be, and it frustrated me quite a bit to not know how she and Marcus convinced the Magistrate and Master Brogal to allow her to go. Also, the tensions are very high between the realms and we're never given history on that. I have no idea why they're seconds away from going to war. Trade sanctions are mentioned as being a result of these high tensions, but we never find out what caused the tensions in the first place.

- The pacing. Almost 50% of this book is the journey to Aku, which happens over 11 days. Once they reach Aku, there's only a few scenes of Marcus training with his phantom even though they're there for weeks. It almost felt like he transformed from being the laughing stock of the class to a master fighting machine instantly. I would've loved to see more of his struggle and how he was able to overcome his difficulties with his phantom. If you're looking for a school-type book, this is not it.

- Insta-love. It's not the worst case I've ever read, but it's there. However, I do have to say the Ash/Kaylin scenes were some of my favorite.

- The characters are flat. Piper, Samsen, Belair, who? The side characters have no depth. Even Marcus and Ash are pretty insubstantial. Kaylin was the most well-rounded and he's not even the main character. Though, one of his most identifiable traits is the incessant winking (once you notice it you won't be able to stop).

However, through all of that, I did really enjoy this book. It was an action-packed whirlwind of an adventure. Don't even get me started on the last 25%! I could not put it down. I didn't think I would want to read the next book, but there's so many unanswered questions that I NEED answered. Plus, a prophecy!? And you know... more of Kaylin wouldn't hurt.

Profile Image for Tyffany.
Author 6 books72 followers
January 2, 2021
Where to begin! :D

When Entangled Teen reached out to me and asked if I would like an ARC of this beautiful book, I wasn't really sure what to expect because I wasn't familiar with the author. But the cover is stunning and the concept drew my attention so I jumped on in.

And I'm SO glad I did.

Crown of Bones toes a careful line between YA and adult; the content is YA, with the exception of some brutal fight scenes (which tbh I'm all here for) but the worldbuilding is rich and deep, and more reminiscent of some of the NA or Adult fantasy books that I love. But it still had that quick, easy-to-read pacing that draws me to the YA Fantasy subgenre.

The characters are delightful. Marcus had some fantastic growth throughout the book. Ash is one of my top favorites—she's strong and smart and capable, and even when she's unsure she keeps going and I love her for it. Their friend circle is beautiful and I love how close they grow through their journey, and their banter with each other is fantastic. I have to admit, though, that it's Ash's inner dialogue that consistently had me giggling most.

That, and Kaylin. Ohhh Kaylin. As soon as I heard the word pirate I was sunk ;) and he only gets better from there! If you need a new book boyfriend, he's one to look out for because oml he's amazing . . . and Wilder didn't simply shove him into the romance role. (which I tend to lean away from tbh) He's just as strong a character as the two central protagonists and I'm dying to learn more about him. Kaylin is my fav and I'm so not sorry. xD

Add in the fact that the magic system is fresh, and clever, engaging, and that it consistently follows its own rules (a problem I've been having with YA fantasy lately) and I am such a happy camper. This book is a glorious example of what YA fantasy can be and I'm going to die waiting for the sequel.

tl;dr - Crown of Bones is a phenomenal example of the YA fantasy genre and I highly highly recommend. And also Kaylin. Read it for Kaylin. ;)
Profile Image for Ellie Blackwood.
155 reviews73 followers
December 31, 2020
This is a YA fantasy about a young heir, Marcus, who must journey to the island of Aku to master his Phantom and prove himself (a Phantom is like an entity that is bound to you and you can call it to help you fight and stuff. Idk I’m probably butchering that explanation lol)

But wait! The story is ALSO about Ash, a lowly scribe who travels with Marcus to Aku in order to record his adventures and feats. But Ash is about to have an adventure of her own ... and learn she’s not as ordinary as she thinks!

This book combines two of my random favorite things in fantasy books: magic power training sequences, and hunting through libraries for clues to solving an age-old mystery 👀 I LOVED the intrigue sprinkled throughout the book, and the twists had me rubbing my hands together with glee!

Also, the squad meets a mysterious hot sailor along the way named Kaylin, who’s weirdly good at sword fighting and being shady 👀 but he has abs so it’s OK

Out of the characters in the story, Ash was my favorite. She’s such a sweet and compassionate protagonist, full of total nerd girl energy, but she can be badass when she has to be. Also, I want her job so I can live in a library all day!

The romance between Ash and Kaylin was cute, but unfortunately I’m a horrible grinch who tends to dislike anything CLOSE to instalove. So the attraction between them came a tad too fast for me.

The other thing that wasn't quite for me was that there were quite a lot of traveling sequences, which were kinda interesting, but I probably would have preferred more magic power training and investigation stuff. But that's just a personal preference.

Overall, though, if you enjoy epic fantasies with politics, a lil mystery, and a LOT of swashbuckling, you should check this one out!
Profile Image for Meigan.
1,107 reviews67 followers
January 5, 2021
CROWN OF BONES was one of my most-anticipated 2021 releases, so my expectations were pretty high going in to this one. I'm happy to say that it delivered, though I must admit -- with a super interesting magic system, various realms on the brink of war, a hint of romance, and an amazing cast of characters, it was pretty much a guarantee that I would enjoy this one.

In this world, there are magic users called Savants that are classified by colors. Each color corresponds to a level of power, with red robes being the most powerful and black robes being magically gifted, but unable to wield it. Marcus Adicio, heir to the throne of Baiseen, has yet to harness his magic and call his phantom. He has one last chance to try or else he's destined to become a black robe and lose his position of Heir. His journey to the robe trials takes him and his friends on an adventure that crosses dangerous lands and even more dangerous seas...where the Mar lie in wait.

There was so much I loved about this book that I could probably go on for hours talking about each aspect, but I'll pare it down to the world-building and the incredible cast of characters. Wilder built such a unique and magical world that has so many intricate layers and so many interesting parts, each one filled with peril and hidden threats. There are humans out for blood and there are sea creatures out for blood, and these characters do an incredible amount of fighting for survival. The characters were also a huge highlight and I loved how dynamic each of them were. They had incredible strength, but were also incredibly vulnerable. Wilder also delves a little into prejudice with how the savants treat those deemed non-savant, though I wish she would've taken a different approach with that instead of ending it how she did. A small complaint, and certainly one that gets lost in all of the goodness of this story.

Bottom line -- add this beauty to your tbr. It's such a fantastical mix of high-seas adventures, dangerous travels, feuding lands and magic trials, with a dash of romance, a delightful morally grey sailor, and deadly sea creatures that aren't as extinct as previously thought. The ending is tense and promises plenty of action and advenure in the sequel, and I can't wait to see what the next book has in store for these delightful kids.

*arc received courtesy of Entangled Teen.
Profile Image for Stephenie.
204 reviews56 followers
December 28, 2020
"I exhale, and it comes out as a whistle. He blinks, but then a crooked smile tugs at his mouth. Oh, by the Deep, let the deck swallow me whole."

Crown of Bones is the first book in a new YA epic fantasy series that follows a group of friends and their journey from Baiseen to the Isle of Aku for the initiation trials.

Marcus is the heir to the throne of Baiseen, a green robe and he has selected his group of five to accompany him to Aku, where he hopes to earn his yellow robe. Ash, is his best friend and recorder. It has always been her dream to record Marcus’s initiation journey (meaning she has to record every detail. The good and the ugly). Of course their journey to Aku is far from simple. Along the way they meet Kaylin, a mysterious, handsome and shirtless sailor who guides Marcus & company to Aku. Ash is immediately smitten by him but thank goodness for Ash’s inner voice to keep her grounded. I don’t blame her, he has pan flute abs and call her lass… umm swoon. Back to their journey. It isn’t an easy one. Unexpected detours and dangers, from losing their horses and gear and almost drowning, yikes!

The story isn't without its faults but it is a solid debut. It’s told from quite a few points of views but the main ones are Ash and Marcus. The world is vast and the magic is very interesting. I also thought the romance was super cute and I constantly caught myself grinning. But I can see some people not like it because the attraction is pretty instant.

Overall it was fast paced, filled with adventure, bloody action scenes, intrigue, and magic. I also found the friendships done well and to be one of my favorite aspects from the book.
2 reviews1 follower
September 23, 2020
Crown of Bones takes place in a very imaginative new world, Amassia. I've always appreciated Kim's gift to create all these new worlds and dimensions - and the lovable and unique characters that come with it.
CoB has an intriguing concept and picks up more and more pace the further you get into the book.
Overall I really enjoyed reading the book (especially trying to suss the mysteries woven into the story).

The narrative style (I perspective) took me some getting used to and I admit I got lost in between a chapter a few times when I forgot whose perspective I was in at the moment.
I also felt that I was missing vital information in the beginning of the book as to the different types of phantoms and what their speciality was. Ok - some were self-explanitory (e.g. Healer, Warrior) but Caller, Ouster or Alter? *shrugs* no frelling idea. So it's a good thing I stumbled across the Phantom 101 on the author's webpage (akwilder(dot)com) to read up on it (but not until later in the book).
The Glossary does contain tidbits of info on phantoms- but that's at the end of the book (which - in the ARC I didn't even know was there at all as there was no content page or anything (it being an ARC and all)...).

The book starts with a bang with this girl (Ash) who raises a mighty (and seemingly destructive?) phantom at the first try. The head of the sanctuary decides that this phantom cannot be allowed to be raised ever again, so binds it (which means it cannot be raised as long as the binding spell/seal is holding firm (it's similar to how the Jinchuuriki (Kyuubi/Kurama/Nine Tails) in Naruto has been sealed within his body). What this mysterious phantom was, we won't find out until the end of book 1... ;-)

The main character it seems is the Heir to the Throne of Baiseen, Marcus, who raises a huge Warrior phantom. We accompany him on his initiation journey to the Isle of Aku. He sets out with a group of friends whose responsibility it is to protect him (Piper, Samsen) + to also chronicle his journey (Ash). This initiation only takes place once a year and initiates are requied to be there by a certain deadline. The group would have missed it if it wasn't for the help of the mysterious boson's mate, Kaylin, who joins them on their journey. Was this 'chance' meeting on the ship really only a coincidence though? ...and what's his fascination with Ash and their connection?
Ash and her inner voice... so cute!! It makes for many grins and laughs... - but is it really an inner voice or is it something else perhaps? hmmm... guess we'll find out.

Story moves along swift and everyone does on Aku what they came there to do... and everything seems fine and dandy when all of a sudden sh**t is raining down on the Isle of Aku as it is being attacked by a High Savant (who we know nothing of) and his allies. His goal seems to be to collect all First Whistle Bones to combine them to the Crown of Bones. His goal? world domination most likely... lol
At this point of the book I would have liked to get a bit more background info on this "dark" High Savant... he was mentioned by name a few times during the book (e.g. Salila) and that he's thought to go after the CoB - but that was it. ...guess there's always book 2, right... ?

Our group of friends fight for their lifes, escape and sneak back home to Baiseen to warn the Council of the Heir's sanctuary of the immenent attack by the High Savant and his allies. Despite the short notice warning, they manage to prepare for some form of defense and are now defending the sanctuary along with other savants of various colored robes. Alas, the attack isn't being led from outside of the santuary alone... - and this is basically where the book leaves us by the end of book 1.

I really enjoyed reading Crown of Bones and have bonded with quite a few characters along the way (Piper rox!!!).
I am looking forward to finding out what the next installment of this series has in store for us.
There are so many mysteries to unravel still... e.g. who is Kaylin really? (I do have my personal theory). What's in store for Ash after how the book ended? What the frell is the "dark" High Savant's agenda, does it intertwine with Ash's destiny and what's up with the mysterious twin sun symbol?

I was especially thrilled to see some 'old friends' feature in CoB: the Mar. I was fascinated by them and their story/history in "The Blood In The Beginning". Salila also k**ed a** back then...
It's great to have them back!!!

Overall "Crown of Bones" is a good, fun read with a different type of 'magic'/power that leave many possibilities for the 'phantom bearer' to explore and grow his/her power and perhaps even develop it beyond the regular phantom powers (kinda like an evolution; and I am not talking of the existing combinations, e.g. caller-alter).

This book has been a long time in the making... - but it was bloody well worth the wait!!
... "and now wes wants more (said in "Gollum voice")
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Shelley.
5,124 reviews459 followers
January 11, 2021
*Source* Publisher
*Genre* Young Adult Fantasy
*Rating* 4.0


Crown of Bones is the first installment in A. K. Wilder's Crown of Bones series. Wilder has created a world of savants and phantoms, and creatures made to serve those who call them. Amassia is the third planet from the sun whose seven continents have, over millenniums, formed a single landmass surrounded by sea. *Think Earth before the continental drifts separated the 7 major continents we have today.*

*Full Review @ Gizmos Reviews*

Profile Image for Christie«SHBBblogger».
954 reviews1,228 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
January 5, 2021
DNF no rating

As much as I tried, I just couldn't get through this book. I kept putting it down and picking it back up in the attempt to engage with the story, but it just wasn't happening. I've read enough books to know when I'm trying to force things and that never works. I really hate giving up on an advanced copy, but sometimes we must wave the white flag.

Profile Image for Rachel Emily.
3,998 reviews265 followers
January 6, 2021
WOW! I am clearly starting this year off strongly, because I thought this book was just fantastic!

Crown of Bones features some really excellent world building complete with its own language, history, and varied lands; a unique magic system that revolves around the ability to call your phantom - creatures that burst from the ground and can take on different qualities; and a great group of characters. I really enjoyed the set up, I thought the pace was pretty steady throughout, and I loved how everyone interacted with each other.

This book, which is written in multiple first person POVs, mainly focuses on 3 characters - Marcus, the prince who is learning to control his phantom; Ash, the recorder/scribe that cannot call a phantom; and Kaylin, the mysterious ship’s assistant who seems to have his own agenda.

There is a bit of romance, plenty of action, some political intrigue, excellent dynamics between the different countries and their customs, and characters that I truly loved reading about. I loved Ash and how strong she was and determined to be seen as an equal.

This ends on a bit of a cliffhanger - and I NEED the next book! I can't wait to see what happens next for these characters!

Thank you Entangled Teen for an arc of this beautiful book!
Profile Image for Jack.
155 reviews14 followers
July 4, 2021
My experience with this book was… unusual for me since I chose to listen to it rather than to read. I was intrigued – the setting seemed pretty curious, with all these phantoms, savants, and historians.

So, we start with two PoVs and later get us a third one (not counting the random one-chapter intrusions). First, we have Marcus – he’s the local heir, a prince, and a savant who’s not been able to produce a phantom for too long. Then, we have Ash, his BFF. Not like a friend, but like a best friend. But not just a best friend even but even more. More than more! They are, like. Best-best friends. But more than that! Like, even…
If you think I’m being repetitive, believe me when I say the book harassed me with this. I was listening at 1.5 speed and still, it felt like an eternity listening to these horrible explanations. Same, same, same WORDS ALL OVER AGAIN.

So, from the very beginning I got two predictions for this book, and two issues with it. Let’s start with the predictions.

One. When Ash just saw our third PoV, Kaylin, she immediately started drooling all over how sexy he was. I thought that this means an upcoming love triangle, boring and overdone. I turned out to be pleasantly surprised – Marcus was focused on his task and duty, and Ash mostly felt things for Kaylin. Thank you.

Guess number two. Ash is introduced as a non-savant and keeps hearing a very self-sufficient inner voice. Her being non-savant is one of the main drama points of the book. So, I immediately thought that she will turn out to be a savant, if not a most powerful one. It’s not a spoiler – I mean, show me a person who would not think of this plot twist after all the mentions of her wishing to be a savant and having an inner voice.

On to the issues.
One. Kaylin appears, Ash starts to swoon since he’s so good-looking and cool. Okay, I got it, here’s our romance choice. But… he appears as a half-naked wearing nothing but pants tanned guy with long curly black hair. This was so unappealing for me that I immediately got disconnected from Ash and her feelings. I felt like I’m back in the 90s.

Two. This character, still unappealing to me, turned out to be most powerful as a character (personality). I could distinguish him from the rest, at least. In some moments. I mean, the supporting cast felt flat, and Marcus slowly transformed into a plot item.

So, yes, we eventually got three PoVs… but still two readers. And that’s where I got even more weirded out.
The female reader was great as Ash but her guys sounded slightly sore-throaty. The voice never felt male, so I never fully emerged within the story. I had to focus to understand who I was listening to. Kaylin was the only one who was easy to distinguish thanks to overuses of “lass”.
The male reader never helped me with identifying the characters either. Their thoughts are the same, Kaylin’s and Marcus’s, and they’re voiced all the same. Marcus seems to be full of doubts and duty, and Kaylin is supposed to be mysterious and dashing, but when we’re inside their heads, they’re both something like “ah the doubts, ah I felt this, I wish I could do this, ah the regrets, etc.”
Plus, the reader makes everyone sound breathy like he’s constipated and having an orgasm at the same time. Sorry not sorry.
You can also add to this that all the NPC are both the same (written too flat) and inconsistent (voiced by two too different readers).

So, on to the book and the story.
The setting felt so original and cool. All these savants and non-savants, the sea race, the historians, the phantoms… it all was supposed to be soo enthralling. But it never delivered.
Look. We have prince Marcus who is at risk of being outsmarted by his power-hungry brother. Marcus could not produce a phantom for a very long time but when he finally does, his phantom is so powerful that everyone’s in awe. We have Ash, a friend-girlfriend wannabe, who has an inner phantom-like voice (guess the plot twist). We have Kaylin who is good, bad, sneaky, pirate, sea king’s servant, jack-of-all-trades, etc. We have a load of NPCs who are just all the same. This is the first book where I forgot the names. The first.


And Kaylin? Switched opinions so many times I lost count. Plot twist king, really. Had to

So, overall… the book is not that thick but it felt like an eternity to dig through it. I wasn’t bored, just… not invested. And I think, I won’t continue with the sequels. It’s just not for me.

Read if: you want a classic “ordinary girl turned special”; you want a light romance that does not overshadow the plot; you like the concept of mage-like casts and mage-princes; you like the idea of binding phantoms to people and battling with summoned creatures.
Do not read if: you’re bored with “special snowflakes”; you want a heavy romance; you need a detailed setting and explanations of how everything works.
Profile Image for Living My Best Book Life.
732 reviews72 followers
December 1, 2020
Crown on Bones is an amazing epic fantasy full of adventure, deception, and romance. This may be my first time reading A.K. Wilder, but it will not be my last.

I always get so excited to get immersed in a different world when I read YA fantasy novels. And boy did I feel that excitement and intrigue when I began reading Crown of Bones. From the very beginning, we meet Marcus and Ash. Marcus is the green-robe Heir to the throne of Baiseen and that comes with a lot of pressure. He has been struggling to raise his phantom and if he doesn't his family will think all his training was for nothing. Ash is his best friend and wants the best for him but also doesn't want to be separated from him knowing that will happen when he finally raises his phantom.

As the initiation trials begin, Marcus raises his warrior phantom, De'ral. He receives a warning and tells Ash about it. They decide to go on the journey to Aku together and this is where things start to get interesting.

We meet more characters on this journey which is fun to read about because they don't all get along. They are all hoping to save their world and stop the next Great Dying and yet they are all young. Throughout the story, it's nice to see them all grow and come into themselves and their unique abilities.

I loved Marcus and Ash's friendship and in the beginning, got a feeling that it would turn into something more. But I'm glad it didn't because readers will meet the charming guide, Kaylin. I love the bond he shared with Ash and how witty and playful they can be with each other. Kaylin is so intriguing because I know that he has something to hide. And it was so fun trying to discover all the truths.

I am so impressed with the author's writing. I love that in this book full of strong boys/men she also gives the audience a strong female character in Ash. Ash's story is so stunning and captivating. She hasn't raised a phantom so might feel inferior to Marcus and the rest of the group, but by the end of the book, she starts to realize her true and destined potential.

I give Crown of Bones 5 stars. This is a must-read YA fantasy read that is one of my favorites of 2020. It's got everything I want in epic fantasy. It has great world-building, an intriguing plot, and captivating characters. Once you start this book, you won't be able to put it down! It releases in January 2021 so you all need to add this to your TBR.
Profile Image for Alison.
286 reviews57 followers
November 30, 2020
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I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Crown of Bones was a fun adventure that pulls inspiration from fantasy tropes while infusing new touches.

The pacing was little breakneck as if trying to squeeze as much story in as possible. Prophecy like declaration? Check. Quest/journey? Check. Trial at a special school? Check. It managed to cover a lot of ground but not quite as well as I would have liked. There was a lot of time spent on the journey, which as fine because a lot happened. Then we get to the training and it felt rushed to get to the next segment of story.

The characters were enjoyable enough. The side characters could have used a bit more development. There were 6 people on our journey but I really couldn't tell you much about the others besides our main characters: Marcus, Ash, & Kaylin. I liked that there wasn't a romance perse with our two lead (Marcus & Ash) characters. Yes, there was jealously and annoyance but I didn't view it as romantic love. Kaylin was a silver-tongued wild card that really kept the story interesting.

I don't mind it but for readers who are curious: the book is in first person POV and jumps around between multiple people.

I love a good epic fantasy but I struggled a bit understanding this world. The reader is able to cobble together an understanding of what phantoms are over the course the story but it's never officially spelled out. [My ARC had a glossary of terms at the end which I discovered when I finished reading. The definition at the back was okay-ish.] I think the story could have benefited with a smaller infodump or two about the phantoms or maybe move the glossary to the beginning of the book? [Though some might argue spoilers but at least the reader knows the glossary is there].

I didn't love the use of the cliffhanger. I don't mind cliffhangers if one story is wrapped up and then a new problem is introduced. This story wasn't technically wrapped up in anyway. We just arrived somewhere & introduced a lot of new problems. Not the most fulfilling resolution.
Profile Image for Richel (letsreadshallwe).
102 reviews25 followers
December 27, 2020
3.5 Stars

“But maybe he is just like this, enchanting, demonstrative, a handhold here, arm in arm there… Can it be more than play to him?”

Crown of Bones is the first book in the new fantasy series by A.K. Wilder that revolves around Marcus, a green-robe savant, Ash, a non-savant (or is she really?), Kaylin, the mysterious guide and other group of friends and their journey to The Sacred Isle of Aku - an island realm where all initiate savants go to for training and advancement.

The world of Crown of Bones is huge - the story doesn’t just revolve in one simple plot as every single aspect has a history. A.K. Wilder thought every single detail that came to this book and the world she created is very intricate. The magic system was really unique and enjoyable and I can imagine seeing this story play out in the screen.

Crown of Bones was written in multiple POVs of Marcus, Ash, Kaylin and Salila and while I love stories written in multiple POV’s, it wasn’t the case here. I didn’t find what I was looking for which was the distinction between each of the characters’ personalities as they all felt very similar. The characters didn’t grow on me much either as I am not a big fan of insta love and definitely not a fan of an arrogant character who still has a lot of things to prove.

A very interesting and complex plot, conflict after conflict was introduced which was a nice buildup for the sequel. A lot of things need to be discovered, a lot of questions need answers, the story ended without tying lose ends. With the intricacy of the world A.K. Wilder created, this first installment to the series felt more like a prequel or a background story to what is really about to happen in the world of Crown of Bones.

It took me forever to finish this but overall an interesting read full of action, magic and adventure although I am still uncertain if I would want to read the sequel.
Profile Image for Nicole (FearYourEx).
377 reviews62 followers
January 4, 2021
3/5 stars

Thank you to Entangled Teen for sending me an early copy for review.

I have mixed feelings about this book, part of me wanted to give it 4 stars, BUT the beginning of the book had me super confused. When I first started the book it felt like I was just thrown in with little to no world building. Eventually things started to make sense and the author throws in the world building as you go.

I enjoyed the characters that we got POVs from: Ash, Marcus, Kaylin, and Salila. The rest of the characters just kind of disappeared from my mind, they were forgettable. (Despite Belair being a fairly important side character I honestly had to open the book to remember his name.)

I honestly think my favorite parts of this book are the prophecy that we don't fully learn the true extent to, and Kaylin. Kaylin is obviously a sailor type character so naturally I love him. And Marcus was okay but honestly I feel like Ash is probably more important to the story than him.

Be warned though, this book ends in a MAJOR cliffhanger.
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