book review

The Sins on Their Bones by Laura R. Samotin | ARC-Review


I was really, really excited for The Sins on Their Bones. It sounded like something totally up my alley and while I loved some parts, I felt like others fell flat. Continue reading to find out what I struggled with and what I absolutely loved!

What is it about?

Dimitri Alexeyev used to be the Tzar of Novo-Svitsevo. Now, he is merely a broken man, languishing in exile after losing a devastating civil war instigated by his estranged husband, Alexey Balakin. In hiding with what remains of his court, Dimitri and his spymaster, Vasily Sokolov, engineer a dangerous ruse. Vasily will sneak into Alexey’s court under a false identity to gather information, paving the way for the usurper’s downfall, while Dimitri finds a way to kill him for good.
But stopping Alexey is not so easy as plotting to kill an ordinary man. Through a perversion of the Ludayzim religion that he terms the Holy Science, Alexey has died and resurrected himself in an immortal, indestructible body—and now claims he is guided by the voice of God Himself. Able to summon forth creatures from the realm of demons, he seeks to build an army, turning Novo-Svitsevo into the greatest empire that history has ever seen.
Dimitri is determined not to let Alexey corrupt his country, but saving Novo-Svitsevo and its people will mean forfeiting the soul of the husband he can’t bring himself to forsake—or the spymaster he’s come to love.

the sins on their bones

Book: The Sins on Their Bones | Author: Laura R. Samotin | Publisher: Random House Canada | Release Date: 7.5.2024 | Genre: Fantasy | Pages: 416 | Rep: gay MCs, mlm MCs and sides, nonbinary, aroace | CN: questionable consent, alcohol, cocaine, drugs, blood, murder, death, loss of loved ones

My Opinion


Thanks to Wunderkind PR and the publisher for the review copy via NetGalley. This does not have any impact on my honest opinion.

The Sins on Their Bones has interesting character dynamics. It shows how friends become lovers become enemies and how those we care(d) about have the ability to hurt us the most. That aspect of the book was really well written, both Dimitri and Alexey struggling under their shared past, yet in very different ways. Alexey is driven by his ambitions and plans for the country, willing to sacrifice everything for it even though he didn’t truly expect having to sacrifice his husband, Dimitri, as well. Maybe that was the one thing he couldn’t sacrifice but did so anyways. Dimitri is younger, more idealistic and basically the personification of the word ‘good’. Of course he has his flaws and he sees them, too. Throughout the entirety of the book, the two of them dance around each other, one of them trying to forget and the other not being able to do anything but remember. Their thoughts are with each other but for different reasons. Both Alexey and Dimitri know they have to overcome each other but still, theyy can’t really let go.
I thought their past and present relationship, their dependence on each other but also how vastly different they each are as persons was very interesting to read and well written. Samotin really delved into human psyche here, drawing a picture of want, obsession, dependence, love and hate, flaws and the wish for something better.
While I don’t think Alexey was ever good for Dimitri, I understand why they were drawn to each other and what broke them. The physical and emotional trauma caused by Alexey was evident in Dimitri and his struggles were realistically portrayed. Laura R. Samotin has thoroughly worked out their relationship and I absolutely liked that aspect of The Sins on Our Bones.

Unfortunately, this was such a big aspect of the book, I feel like everything else wasn’t developed enough. Especially Dimitri’s friends and their whole friendship group. I liked their dynamics but I didn’t fully understand where they came from. It is hinted at why some of them chose to stay with Dimitri but I would have loved to know more about their pasts. How did they even become friends? What was the moment for their decisions to stay at Dimitri’s side forever? How do they all know each other?
I would have loved to explore Vasily’s relationship with Dimitri more. He even has his own PoV chapters but I still don’t think I know him that well, especially when it comes to his Dimitri’s friendship before the country fell to pieces. I like how their relationship develops throughout the story, how they grow closer physically and mentally and how they help each other. Their relationship is a supportive one in which both parties simply accept each other with all flaws and struggles and everything good as well. I truly enjoyed that but I would have loved more background.
Where Dimitri and Alexey were highly complex characters that were both very well written, the others are more or less shadows on my mind. I just would have liked some more information on all of them and their shared past. It always felt like I missed some vital parts of their lives, like if there was a prequel to this book, but there isn’t. So I was just left hanging there, wondering about their lives.

I do think the religious aspect of The Sins on Their Bones was very interesting as well. I always love mythology in books and I really liked how Ashkenazi traditions were intpreted in this book, especially when it comes to different forms of practice and different movements within a religion.

Another thing I really had trouble with was the pacing. While I liked the focus on the main characters, it took a lot away from the plot and for the first few hundred pages nothing happened. It dragged and I really needed to actively push through them. This got better towards the end but the beginning was, in my opinion, boring. Characters can only carry a story so far, and here, it just wasn’t enough for me. I have to admit, I don’t necessarily need much of a plot but then I also need more than two developed characters. At least half of this book just felt dry.

The Sins on Their Bones was a study in abusive relationships. It shows all aspects from getting to know each other, the mental and physical toll it takes on people and how they recover and try to heal. It is dark and atmospheric, but also lacked character depth in all supporting characters, the world building wasn’t there except for the religious and mythological aspects.
This book has a lot of potential and there are definitely many people who will love it, unfortunately, it wasn’t for me. I wished to love this but I simply didn’t.



Do you enjoy books featuring mythology? What folklore would you love to see in a book?

Until next time,


  1. I’m personally okay with a slow plot that gives way to the character development, but I am a bit scared about the other characters not being fleshed out enough. I love reading mythology books and books that discuss religion in general, so I hope I enjoy this more than you did. Awesome review, Kat! 🙂

    1. Yes, me, too! I usually don’t care if the plot is a bit slow when the characters are amazing but there was just some development lacking here 🙁 I really hope you’ll love this book!! 🙂 <3

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