The Bone Way is a sweet novella, which is basically a Sapphic Orpheus and Eurydice story: Teagan has been poisoned by a creature belonging to the Shadow Princess, a sort of underworld figure. Her wife Cress is determined to find her a cure by travelling the Bone Way to reach the Shadow Princess and make a deal with her. They originally plan to set out together, but Teagan has doubts, fearing that Cress will lose her life for nothing if the deal doesn’t work or they don’t make it to the end… so Cress sets out alone, and Teagan has to follow.
It’s a short book, and slips by quickly; there are a few flashbacks to help build the picture of their relationship and what they do, and which help provide a little worldbuilding, and then there’s the description of Teagan’s journey. It reads so fast that I didn’t quite get the passage of time out of it; the time limit on their return to their normal world felt easy (three days), although the journey did actually take them almost all of that.
The story is sweet and fairytale-like; it’s not a thick satisfying novel that fleshes out the whole world, but a glimpse of a couple’s story within that world. Behind it lurks a story I was perhaps a little more interested in: the story of the Shadow Princess and why she turned to dark magic, why she brought all her people with her, and exactly how those people live and what they feel about it. I’m especially curious about the little girl who helps Teagan, because she seemed more switched on and alive, and it felt like there was a story there as well…
The love between Cress and Teagan comes across as strong, but also realistic: they screw things up, they get angry with each other, they have mismatched priorities. The whole thing ends well and sweetly, and despite the Shadow Princess’ dire pronouncements (which say more about her untold story than anything), you get the feeling that Cress and Teagan can figure things out, together.