The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco (The Bone Witch, #2)
The Heart Forger is a strong sequel to The Bone Witch, artfully balancing two narratives to maximize the strengths of each. Powerfully queer, elegantly dark, excellently paced; good for those who like necromancy with their dragons.
As the second book, The Heart Forger had a lot to live up to and it manages it beautifully. The main story and the interstitial narrative are given appropriate amounts of attention; there's a beautiful ebb and flow as the interstitial sections imply various results of the main story without revealing the details prematurely. It's a swifter book than The Bone Witch, it doesn't cover as much time and it doesn't have to do the heavy lifting of world-building that its predecessor did. That allows it the space for Tea to gain a sense of mastery and earned confidence commensurate with her already-established eagerness.
This remains a tricky series to discuss because everything I loved is a spoiler for something else. The handling of Tea's love life was very skillful, there was a tricky pivot to make due to a reveal at the end of the last book. Some of that work was done in The Bone Witch, but a lot needed to happen in this book for it to feel believable and I think the author pulled it off.
I was pleasantly surprised by where the main narrative stops. I wasn't sure how much more story could fit in before the past catches up to the start of The Bone Witch's interstitials, but the pacing is great and I'm left with a good mix of satisfaction and questions. I'm very ready to read book three.
CW for betrayal, death, major character death.