Title: The Heart Forger
Author: Rin Chupeco
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy
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.
Content Warnings: Violence, abuse
I reviewed The Bone Witch a few months ago and could not get over how amazing I found it. However, the first novel in Rin Chupeco’s fantasy trilogy is highly character-driven and, as I described in my review, is more like a villain backstory. On the other hand, The Heart Forger is more action-packed, fast-paced, and shows clearly the death and destruction that leads Tea to the dark path she now walks.
And. I. Loved it.
The Heart Forger begins right where The Bone Witch ended. It also maintains the format of the previous book, where the Bard and Tea are speaking about her life story. Immediately, there is a disconnect between the past-Tea of this book and the past-Tea of the previous book. Even though you already know that Tea doesn’t exactly turn out to be the obedient, admired asha you’d think she’d become, after making such an illustrious beginning, the past-Tea in The Heart Forger has already taken her first steps towards anger and vengeance, such that you can clearly see how Tea became the conqueror of Daanoris described in the book’s first few chapters.
Rin’s lush, detailed writing style turns just as dark – almost gothic, in fact – as her slowly unraveling main character. While we are no longer treated to the rich, perfectly-crafted paragraphs describing the Eight Kingdoms and their different cultures and architecture, what we get in exchange is far, far better. We get to see just how far Tea is willing to go to save her loved ones, how deeply the stink of corruption penetrates the asha association, and the beginning of the darkrot deep in Tea’s soul.
I have to say, the pacing of this book is much better. I just have this notion that Rin has finally settled into a comfortable spot writing fantasy and has really made that spot her own. Where The Bone Witch had some awkward gaps or misses, The Heart Forger was just pure perfection. The plotting, the placing of certain events, the plans that go awry – everything was written just so beautifully and so breathtakingly tantalizing that I honestly want a movie, right now!
The characters also really come into their own. The juxtaposition between their personalities in Tea’s retelling with how they are during the sections where the Bard is narrating is absolutely beautiful. It causes a pang of emotion when you get to compare how they were when they were much younger and still unsure of their places in the world, and how they are in the present during a time of war. This difference is most especially seen – and most especially painful – in Tea and Fox. Let me say it, here and now, the Pahlavi siblings are going to be the death of me.
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