Friday, 28 March 2014

Black Heart (Curse Workers #3) by Holly Black

Publication date: 3rd April 2012
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: Crime mystery/Fantasy (YA)

Caution: may contain spoilers from books 1 & 2.

Publisher's Synopsis
Cassel Sharpe has the most deadly ability of all. With one touch, he can transform any object - including a person - into something else entirely. And that makes him a wanted man. The Feds are willing to forgive all his past crimes if he'll only leave his con artist family behind and go straight. But why does going straight feel so crooked?

For one thing, it means being on the opposite side of the law from Lila, the girl he loves. She's the daughter of a mob boss and getting ready to join the family business herself. Though Cassel is pretty sure she can never love him back, he can't stop obsessing over her. Which would be bad enough, even if her father wasn't keeping Cassel's mother prisoner in a posh apartment and threatening not to let her leave until she returns the priceless diamond she scammed off him years ago. Too bad she can't remember where she put it.

The Feds say they need Cassel to get rid of a powerful man who is spinning dangerously out of control. But if they want Cassel to use his unique talent to hurt people, what separates the good guys from the bad ones? Or is everyone just out to con him?

Time is running out, and all Cassel's magic and cleverness might not be enough to save him. With no easy answers and no one he can trust, love might be the most dangerous gamble of all...

My Review
Black Heart is the final book to the Curse Workers series by Holly Black.  It follows on from Red Glove (which was preceded by White Cat).

The plot for Black Heart was introduced in Red Glove and focuses on Cassel's mother who is in trouble with a powerful politician and with the head of the mob.  When she outlines the situation for Cassel, once again, it is up to him to fix it.

Cassel continues to struggle with his decision about what to do with his life after graduation - whether he should work for the Feds or the mob.  This is complicated further by Lila's aspirations to become her father's successor.

There is an interesting development to Sam and Daneca's relationship when a third party comes between them.

The climax centres on a very tricky situation that Cassel has to find a way out of and the resolution is very clever indeed.

[Potential spoiler alert:  While reading I found myself thinking how great it would be if, for a change, the female character would swoop in on her white horse and do the saving....  End of Spoiler alert.]

The Curse Workers has officially become my second* favourite fantasy fiction series.  If, like me, you like your YA fantasy leaning towards the dark side, you'll most likely enjoy it.  All 3 books are consistent in standard of quality: intrigue, page-turnability, plot rigor etc. 

Holly Black has officially become SBRs' YA fantasy fiction author to read for review (author of our time, that is).  I know I keep saying this but her writing is intelligent without being too intellectually challenging (in a world - let's face it - where being smart just ain't where it's at). I also love that, unlike most of her contemporaries, her books not only address serious issues like the social class divide and gender inequality, they also embrace diversity.  Thank you Holly Black.

For more reviews of books by Holly, check out my Author's index.

*My all time favourite being Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials.

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