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N.T. McQueen
The Blood of Bones
N.T. McQueen, author
The boy’s name is Tesfahun. Nestled in the vastness of Ethiopia, he lives among an ancient tribe untouched by modern civilization. His people live an isolated life where revenge killings are required and ruled by superstitions where mingi or cursed babies are thrown into the river for the sake of the tribe. As friends are forced to avenge the tribe and children disappear in the night, Tesfahun begins to question his people and his beliefs, growing further from his grief stricken mother and hardened father. After his initiation into manhood, Tesfahun discovers a terrible secret about his family and himself. This revelation forces him to flee his people into the harsh territory of his enemies who reside across the river. Near starvation and death, he is rescued by an old recluse and the two form a strange bond, hiding from their people and their demons. Needing food, they march to the river to hunt but soon discover they are the ones being hunted. But not by beasts. Fearing for his life and the demons he tried to flee, Tesfahun crashes headlong into his blood-soaked fears and must come to terms with the violence inherent in his bones in order to find salvation.
Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 7 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 7.75 out of 10


Plot: Delivering excellent detail to create an alluring environment, McQueen’s coming-of-age myth is as compelling as it is creative. While offering exceptional descriptions, the plot is paced quickly.

Prose/Style: Following a semi-traditional mythic formula, The Blood of Bones is an engaging narrative. The narrator is omniscient and skillfully takes the reader into the mind of Tesfashun, the novel’s hero. Stylistically, dialogue is not indicated with quotation marks, which takes the reader a slight adjustment to get used to.

Originality: Readers of myth and fantasy will find familiar patterns, but McQueen breaks the mold by using his knowledge of tribal practices. As an outsider to the Omo Valley region, McQueen displays reverence as an outsider writing about traditional practices and the experience of colonization.

Character Development/Execution: Young Tesfahun, his wise teacher (aptly named “old man”), and the relationship they build are the stars of this novel. Tesfashun’s actions naturally mirror his internal thought processes and what he is learning from his sage. Tesfashun learns quickly and the pace of the novel moves with his growth.

Date Submitted: August 11, 2021