The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco fantasy book reviewsThe Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco fantasy book reviewsThe Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco

The Heart Forger‘s (2018) prequel ended with the young bone witch, Tea, about to march upon the kingdom with an army of corpses and a bevy of monsters to boot. We pick up the story precisely where it was left off with Tea’s shock lover (for those of you who remember the twist ending of The Bone Witch) in tow.

Sticking to the same formula used in The Bone Witch, the narrative jumps between past and present, once more in a style reminiscent of THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLE series. The bard continues to narrate Tea’s march upon the royals in the present day, presenting a very different version to the novice asha (that is, a witch who can wield the dark arts of necromancy) of the past.

Present-day Tea is strong and vengeful, instilling fear into citizens and soldiers across the kingdom. Yet Tea of the past is only just coming to terms with her own skill, still tackling the prejudice against her kind. Prince Kance of Odalia has fallen into an unwakeable sleep, and the heartforger that might’ve cured him is nowhere to be found. Readers will remember his right-hand man, broody Kalen, who has always hated Tea, constantly trying to turn the Prince against her. Set against a backdrop of complicated political alliances and rich worldbuilding, Tea must try and get to the root of the sleeping sickness.

The Bone Witch (3 book series) Kindle Edition
But Tea is also on her own inward journey. Through contact with dark faceless magic users, she learns that the use of her own magic might lead her closer and closer to the dark side. Whilst it’s by no means an original plot line, Tea’s anti-hero descent as she treads the line between good and evil certainly makes for compulsive reading. What’s more, the evidence of the flash-forwards (a.k.a evil Tea marching on the kingdom with a bunch of monsters) gives us some clue as to how the whole temptation of evil debacle turns out.

Once again the side cast is a delight to read. The sardonic Fox, Tea’s recently undead brother, is back with his dry charm, still making quips with his arm hanging on by a thread. Likh (a firm favourite from The Bone Witch) also returns, posing wider questions about gender stereotypes that will no doubt resonate with a contemporary audience.

Rin Chupeco‘s writing is detailed and descriptive, but by no means overbearing. There is no sacrificing style at the expense of plot here, and it is comforting not to have to expect some of the YA clichés that saturate so many other books in this genre.
The dual storylines of past and present Tea are still somewhat imperfect. There is an imbalance between the two tellings, and it is difficult to assimilate such different versions of our protagonist. Nonetheless, there is undoubtedly a certain tension in waiting to learn how Tea reaches the all-powerful extremity of the young woman she has become in the present-day.

The Heart Forger demands to be read as a sequel to The Bone Witch. The rich worldbuilding and complicated magic system, as well as ongoing plotlines, means it is almost impossible to jump into the series mid-flow, but fans of its predecessor will no doubt delight in the continued telling of Tea’s rise to an all-powerful asha.

Published March 20, 2018. In The Bone Witch, Tea mastered resurrection―now she’s after revenge… No one knows death like Tea. A bone witch who can resurrect the dead, she has the power to take life…and return it. And she is done with her self-imposed exile. Her heart is set on vengeance, and she now possesses all she needs to command the mighty daeva. With the help of these terrifying beasts, she can finally enact revenge against the royals who wronged her―and took the life of her one true love. But there are those who plot against her, those who would use Tea’s dark power for their own nefarious ends. Because you can’t kill someone who can never die… War is brewing among the kingdoms, and when dark magic is at play, no one is safe.


  • Ray McKenzie

    RACHAEL "RAY" MCKENZIE, with us since December 2014, was weaned onto fantasy from a young age. She grew up watching Studio Ghibli movies and devoured C.S. Lewis’ CHRONICLES OF NARNIA not long after that (it was a great edition as well -- a humongous picture-filled volume). She then moved on to the likes of Pullman’s HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy and adored The Hobbit (this one she had on cassette -- those were the days). A couple of decades on, she is still a firm believer that YA and fantasy for children can be just as relevant and didactic as adult fantasy. Her firm favourites are the British greats: Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and Neil Gaiman, and she’s recently discovered Ben Aaronovitch too. Her tastes generally lean towards Urban Fantasy but basically anything with compelling characters has her vote.

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