The Bone Doll’s Twin by Lynn Flewelling

To fulfill an ancient prophecy, dark magic is woven around a baby girl so that she will appear to be a boy, but the cost is the life and soul of her twin brother whose ghost now violently haunts the castle.

For some reason I thought The Bone Doll’s Twin was a one-off, so towards the end I got impatient when I realized that the story wasn’t going to wrap up anytime soon. I wasn’t in the mood to commit to a new series, so I’m a little relieved that I feel indifferent towards continuing this story. If I get the next book, great; if I don’t, ain’t no thing.

The world is typical medieval fantasy, with court intrigue laced with magic. However, the premise introduced a strong horror element that really captivated me, with the ghostly character of Brother, birthed from death through a diabolical necromancy. Because I didn’t think this was a series, I thought the story was going to play out along the horror lines and I was intrigued to see where it would go. However, around the 400-page mark the gender-masked Prince Tobin gets sent to court, and the horror element is backgrounded to his coming-of-age as a prince of the court. I was very, very disappointed.

Flewelling’s writing is strong and evocative, and I found the characters intriguing and well-realized. But I fear that she sacrificed a truly powerful concept to a derivative storyline.

Anyone read the rest of this trilogy? Will it surprise me?

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