Black Heart by Holly Black: Book Review

Black Heart by Holly BlackBLACK HEART by Holly Black Book Review
Series: Curse Workers, #3
Publication Date: April 3rd 2012 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Rating: – Exceeds Expectations |

Book Summary: In a world where Magic is illegal.

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.

Black Heart by Holly Black Book Review Overview:

  • Anti-climactic romance; lacked the tension between Cassel and Lila
  • You will be as torn as Cassel in the debate on who’s good and who’s evil
  • My least favorite of the Curseworkers series, but I was satisfied enough by this conclusion

Wait a second. I actually finished a series? With the overwhelming saturation of series in the young adult market, it’s amazing that I actually went out and finished an entire series in less than a year. That’s how you know Holly Black’s Curse Workers series is worth the time, and despite being my least favorite in the trilogy, Black still delivers a punch in BLACK HEART.

I think what makes BLACK HEART the least compelling of the Curse Workers trilogy is the fact that nothing really new to the main plot is introduced. Most of the plot components have been introduced in the second book, Red Glove, and it is in BLACK HEART where everything finally gets resolved. There are still some jaw-dropping moments that I didn’t see coming, but they had to do less with Cassel and more with the secondary characters. Now that Cassel’s secrets are all basically laid out in the open, the other reveals pale in comparison.

Unfortunately, I thought that the romance in BLACK HEART was a little bit anti-climactic. We all knew where the story line was going to go between Cassel and Lila and for me, their scenes together just lacked the tension that was present in the first two books.

By the time we get to BLACK HEART, the focus really isn’t about the romance anymore, but the overall political picture regarding Curse Workers and how Cassel plays a part in all of it. I enjoyed the contrast between the government and the mob families because I became as torn as Cassel. While the government gives the initial impression of being the good guys, they do still have the underlying motives of wanting to control Cassel. At the end of the day, there is no clear answer as to who is good and who is bad. The lines are so blurred that I spent the majority of BLACK HEART by Holly Black guessing who Cassel will ultimately give his loyalties to.

Cassel still continues to surprise me in the third book. I really never gave his character enough credit for being so clever. He is probably one of my favorite protagonists ever, due to his wit, sarcasm, charm, and cleverness. I love that no matter what, he can’t help but feel like he has to do what’s right. Cassel always tries to be a better person to make up for the things that he unknowingly has done in the past. On the other hand, he can still be pretty bad-ass whenever he feels like it.

BLACK HEART is a decent end to the Curse Workers series. There is just enough resolution for readers to feel satisfied, but at the same time there is still room to imagine what Cassel’s next adventure might be.

Other Book Reviews:
The Compulsive Reader
The Grammarian’s Reviews
The Paperback Princess

About the Author

Holly BlackHolly Black is a best-selling author of contemporary fantasy novels for kids, teens, and adults. She is the author of the Modern Faerie Tale series (Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside), The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), and The Good Neighbors graphic novels (with Ted Naifeh). She is also the co-editor of three anthologies, Geektastic (with Cecil Castellucci), Zombies vs. Unicorns (with Justine Larbalestier), and Welcome to Bordertown (with Ellen Kushner). Her most recent works are The Poison Eaters and Other Stories, a collection of short fiction, and The Curse Worker series (White Cat, Red Glove, and the forthcoming Black Heart). She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Theo, in a house with a secret library.

Find the Author

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  1. I agree with EVERYTHING you say here. I was very unsatisfied with the ending and the general lack of new, compelling information about Cassel’s world.

    1. I wanted to include so many spoilery things that I WISH were in Black Heart but I resisted. :/ Still a decent book, but now I’m not rushing out to complete my Curse Workers collection. I guess I can complete it eventually.

  2. I had a feeling the third one was going to be a slight disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, this is one of my favorite series I’ve read in a long time (Cassel also ranks high on my list of favorite characters), but for me the books got progressively more disappointing. White Cat was the best, hands down, while Red Glove was a good read but didn’t hold as well for me as White Cat. I really hope we get more from this universe because it’s brilliant. One of my favorite universes.

    1. I agree completely. I would still definitely rec the series for someone looking for urban fantasy. I don’t think I’d mind a spin-off series, but I haven’t heard anything about that in the works yet. Hm.

      1. The closest thing to a spin-off was the collection of short stories Holly Black had up from Lila’s POV but I think she took those down. :( Hopefully one day she’ll publish them or have them up again to read.

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