Disclaimer: This is a personal review and does not reflect the score of the Before We Go SPFBO review team.
Hills of Heather and Bone by K.E. Andrews is a perfect example of the genius of the SPFBO competition. It is a cozy adventure fantasy and not a book that I would have been likely to have read if left to my own devices. By nature I am a reader of Epic Fantasy or Grimdark and I would have missed out on a great novel.
The novel also features a really healthy and solid relationship between our single PoV character, Morana, and her husband Percy. Morana is thirty years old and has quite severe arthritis. Morana was born with a magical talent called Boneweaving that makes her akin to a necromancer. This ability has been outlawed and has forced her to hide her talent for fear that a magical team called the Failinis will find her and kill her. Her husband Percy is a Fleshmender and and Rootsower, allowing him to heal people as well as grow plants very rapidly.
As the story begins Morana and Percy are in a village where Percy acts as the town doctor and Morana assists him while attempting to hide her abilities. Somehow they are discovered and thus begins a very entertaining adventure novel that really showcases the amazing magic system and one of the best jobs of world building I’ve ever seen in a standalone book. I have certainly expressed my feelings to the author that I personally feel it would be quite the shame if this book remained a standalone novel haha.
In addition to the magic system and world building I found it incredibly refreshing that Morana and Percy’s relationship was so positive and supportive. They are a couple who deeply love each other and want the best for the other. They do what they need to do throughout the story to keep each other safe. I find that far too often in books where there is a significant romantic component one partner or even both show some toxic traits or the couple get into a fight due to a shocking lack of communication that sometimes feels contrived. In this book Morana and Percy can get frustrated with each other occasionally but they always try and work it out in a healthy way.
You can see my full review as well as many more here: The Nerd Book Review