Book Review: The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco
Tea and her mentor Mykkie are the last of their kind, a bone witch in the eight kingdoms and for this they have been revered by others and lived in exile in Rin Chupeco's follow up to The Bone Witch. The Heart Forger, Book Two, follows a slightly older and well trained, Tea and her companions- the corpse of her brother, Fox that she had raised accidentally and taken as a familiar, and other creatures that aid in her fight this time.
A former lover of the king, Tea's mentor Mykkie is now growing frail and weak and her heartglass has been hidden away- a vessel that contains enough of the soul of the owner to keep them alive. While new heartglass can be forged out of fragments from others with similar traits, having the Heart Forger just create a new heartglass for Mykkie, doesn't guarantee it will take either, or save her life- perhaps just buying her more time.
While most in the kingdoms fear Tea for her ability to raise the dead and take life by whim, she shows in flashbacks her talents to revive and then put back to the grave bodies several times- especially when trying to get the king to reveal the location that he had hidden Mykkie's heartglass.
Although she has been groomed to be the last of her kind, Tea isn't ready to give up on Mykkie just yet, even if that separates her from the few friends she has among what are seen as the normal types in the kingdom.
In exile since her heartglass had chosen her fate, Tea has a few friends among the normal types of witches in the kingdoms, including that of the two young princes, one that she lusts after although he is betrothed to another, and the other who wonders why Tea never had any interest in him. This alliance, along with the betrothed princess might be the only friends that Tea has left after the devastation begins.
The Heartglass Event
In Rin Chupeco's world of The Bone Witch and its sequels, the heartglass event is sort of the ritual that defines what roles a young witch will undertake in their adult lives.
Similar to every other fantasy version of a sorting event, based on the colors of the heartglass after the event, young witches are then divided up to understand their trade they are going into.
Any shade of red is the normal status and expected and looked highly upon by families, although the occasional hue of more of a pink to purple may arise providing that child to belong to more of an artisan trait of magic and they are taken away immediately to begin their apprenticeship. Even more rare is a silver heartglass.
Tea is the only of her age to have her heartglass turn black- making her the second necromancer in existence and striking fear into those around her.
Finding a Faceless spell book only adds to her powers as Tea learns more advanced spell work that can raise as many as thousands of bodies in a type of puppeteer type- but storming the kingdom is only to get her answers and extract revenge on the king that letting Mykkie die...right?
While most heartglass glows shades of red or even into the purple family, getting silver is extremely rare. Getting the black heartglass that Tea has, is even worse. When Prince Kance begins to fall into a coma, his body still alive yet his essence being sucked out as his heartglass is slowly beginning to turn grey, Tea must now find a way to save her true love even if he is to marry someone else as well as her ailing mentor.
A Forbidden Love And An Honest Mistake
Tea and Mykkie are seized as the announcement of Prince Kance and his princess spilled from the king's lips. Moments later, Tea's friend, Kance drops to his knees, being the last one seen talking to him, it is apparent to witnesses that the Bone Witch must have done something to take the Prince under her spell.
This couldn't be further from the truth.
What people think they had seen was Tea having a talk with her friend where he claimed that he knew that the engagement was upcoming but he didn't have a choice in the matter of its announcement by his father. He says that he didn't mind it, not knowing that Tea had always had her eye on her friend although knowing that they could never be due to her status.
The empress believes that Tea and Mykkie have nothing to do with the coma that Kance has fallen into and even Kance's brother. Prince Kalen who always had feelings for Tea that were not recipiractated believes that she would never harm his brother.
With only few allies including some of the royals, her dead brother Fox who helps her along the way with learning new spells from the Faceless book and the army of the dead that Tea can raise into battle, someone will pay for the things that have befallen the kingdom.
Believing that Tea would never harm Prince Kance, even after knowing he was said to marry another, eventually she is freed but still prime suspect after the killing of the king.
Killing Of A King
Tea uncovers the truth that the father of her beloved Kance, was guilty of killing his own brothers to ascend the throne and rise to power, something that Mykkie had also know when she was close to the king.
With one son in coma as his heart stone drains to a pale grey, Kalen might stand in the way of the throne as well.
Kalen reveals his feelings to Tea and says that he doesn't want to be the spare in the case that she really still has designs on his brother. Just as Tea is about to take the leap into taking Kalen up on his offer, the kingdom is under attack.
The Army Of The Dead
With many flashes of either what is to come in the next novel or flashbacks, my only regret with The Heart Forger is reading the second book out of intended order as the libray had it stocked. Now just starting the first novel, The Bone Witch, it definatly explains the world more clearly as in most sequels- the author didn't really bore readers of the first book with a refresher on the world, and new readers were not given much background if starting this book afresh.
That being said, I really enjoy the writings of Rin Chupeco after reading The Girl From The Well series and found this series to be less on the creepy side and more of a fantasy world.
That doesn't mean that there isn't darkness afoot in the world of The Bone Witch though. Beautifully written prose, The Heart Forger, is the darkest tale of what we sacrifice for those closest to us. To Tea, she will lose everything close to her as the darkness of her new powers and chosen spells knit around her making her more isolated. As the dead that she has taken cling to her skirts and follow her along the way the imagine of the unrestful dead clinging to her body is just gruesome.
Tea is flawed by her being a Bone Witch by calling, but it isn't a life that she has chosen and she wrestles with how she is viewed by those in her universe because of it.
The Heart Forger teases at another sequel with no release date yet.