Sunday, 20 May 2012

Black Heart by Holly Black

Black Heart by Holly Black is the third and final instalment of the Curse Workers trilogy. You can read my reviews of book one, White Cat, and book two, Red Glove, at those links.


The series is a really good read. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it. Go read my review of White Cat if you’re not sure or want to know more. Otherwise, grab a hold of the books if you like fantasy YA.


Black Heart picks up not long after Red Glove left off. I enjoyed it a lot. It’s difficult to review this book without spoilers for the previous books. My review doesn’t contain spoilers for Black Heart, but if you haven’t read White Cat or Red Glove, you probably shouldn’t read the rest of the review. Best to start at my review of White Cat. So be warned, spoilers ahead!


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SPOILERS FOR THE PREVIOUS BOOKS IN THE SERIES.


NOT SPOILERS FOR BLACK HEART.


BUT STILL, SPOILERS FOR WHITE CAT AND RED GLOVE.


YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.



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After Cassel’s deal with the Feds at the end of Red Glove, his life takes a different turn. He tries to balance staying on at boarding school with meetings with the Feds that he has to keep secret from his family and the crime boss who also wants his services. Sounds complicated, right?


It was delightfully complex with several plot threads intertwined. Lots of people are constantly demanding things from Cassel — time, grades, help — and it’s written in such a way that the reader can sympathise with the stress he’s under without feeling confused.


One thing I found particularly interesting is that throughout the book I wasn’t entirely sure what choice Cassel would make for the direction of rest of his life. He has several options and many obstacles and disasters to dodge whichever path he chooses. While the ending isn’t a complete surprise, I didn’t find it telegraphed or obvious, which is nice.


Cassel’s friends, Sam and Daneca, play a more important role in Black Heart than in earlier books. From book one through to book three they shift from background to foreground characters. On the one hand, it means they’re being inadvertently drawn into Cassel’s world of cons. It’s an extra source of guilt for him, and also raises the stakes. (And they’re also really not the only thing he has to worry about.)


If you’ve enjoyed the earlier books in the series, this is more of the same but better. It’s more complicated, there’s more mystery (not so much just one main mystery like in Red Glove), and the cons are more elaborate and dangerous.


It’s an excellent book and a great conclusion to an excellent series. I highly recommend it.


4.5 / 5 stars

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