Friday, May 18, 2012

Black Heart by Holly Black

Holly Black's Curse Workers series is such fun. I love stories about cons and I love stories about magic, and these books have both of those things, plus a narrator with such an engaging, unique voice it should make other writers envious. Because I'm reviewing Black Heart, the third book in the series, there will be spoilers for the first two here.

At the end of Red Glove, Cassel had teamed up with the federal government to use his powers as a transformation worker in the legal way. Since he's still a minor, he's supposed to shadow his older brother, Barron, who has also gone over to the government side. There are a few problems with this: Barron is still a sociopath, conning comes as easy as breathing to Cassel, and Cassel isn't quite sure what the government is asking him to do won't get him arrested or killed.

Meanwhile, Lila starts to be drawn further and further into the life of crime as her father prepares her to take over the family business one day. Cassel still carries a major torch for her, naturally, but if he let her know what side he was working for now, it would be the end of him. 

There's a lot going on in Black Heart, and I'm very impressed by the way Black handles it all. In fact, all of this stuff - including two pretty major subplots - is a big reason I enjoyed the book so much. Aside from the job the Feds have for Cassel, he also has to deal with a vengeful mob boss and his threats against his mother, a female classmate who needs his help getting out of a blackmail plot, and the tension between his two best friends since it was revealed Daneca is a worker. Frequently in stories like this, where the author juggles multiple plotlines, they all tie together in some way, but that's not necessarily the case here. I appreciated that - it made for a more complex read. Furthermore, all of the plotlines were compelling. I didn't want to skim past any of them to get to the good stuff.

Like Red Glove, Black Heart builds upon the events of its predecessors. Cassel's actions have consequences here, and not always good ones. The characters also grow based on their previous experiences, and not always in a good way. All of this may make the book difficult as a standalone, but again, it makes for some very satisfying reading

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