Tuesday 15 July 2014

Book Review - Black Heart

Black Heart
Author: Holly Black
Series: Curse Workers #3
Genres: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy | Young Adult
Release Date: 19th April 2012
Publishers: Gollancz
No. Pages: 296
Source: Borrowed
Buy From: Amazon | The Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
Cassel Sharpe knows he's been used as an assassin, but he's trying to put all that behind him. He's trying to be good, even though he grew up in a family of con artists and cheating comes as easily as breathing to him. He's trying to do the right thing, even though the girl he loves is inextricably connected with crime. And he's trying to convince himself that working for the Feds is smart, even though he's been raised to believe the government is the enemy. But with a mother on the lam, the girl he loves about to take her place in the Mob, and new secrets coming to light, the line between what's right and what's wrong becomes increasingly blurred.

When the Feds ask Cassel to do the one thing he said he would never do again, he needs to sort out what's a con and what's truth. In a dangerous game and with his life on the line, Cassel may have to make his biggest gamble yet - this time on love.

The following review may contain spoilers concerning earlier books in the series.
If you have not read the previous installments, please proceed with caution.

First off I'd like to congratulate myself on having completed one of my series commitment challenges for the year. When I made that post, I never for one moment thought I'd get through an entire series so quickly, but thanks to Black's amazing writing and her touch for the grift and secrets, I've zoomed through this consistently brilliant series and have come out the end knowing I will read more of her work in the future, so well done me. Back to the review. Black Heart wasn't the huge, mind-blowing finale I wanted from the series, no. The familiar good points were great, but it wasn't quite enough when mixed with plot twists and a few dry, pretty unadventurous spells; it couldn't make this book perfection, but it's a damn good attempt.

Where do I start to put how I feel into words? Maybe with the plot and pacing because while Black Heart had it's own little sub-plots through-out, working for the Feds, working for Z and being madly in love with Lila (which isn't really a plot point, but you'd have thought it was with the amount of page time it received, but that's for later), the big plot overall of was, well, a little lame in comparison. I mentioned in my review for Red Glove that if Black worked more on highlighting the equality for workers through legal implications and how it would affect them, I would have loved this installment and I stand by that comment, because sadly, she didn't delve into what could have been a brilliant feature of diversity, equality and even with just snippets of politics, it wouldn't have affected the direction of this series at all, so I consider that a lost opportunity. I had so many questions involving it, how it would affect the crime families and those other secondary characters that we'd come to know and love and how it could affect Cassel, but instead, I was showered with a very confusing blackmail sub-plot and a con used to bring in Cassel from being free. Don't get me wrong, these sub-plots were strong; there was the right amount of confusion and clues spread like breadcrumbs, there was enough mystery to have me wondering and guessing those guilty and their motives and there was enough to keep me entertained and surprised, but I'd created an expectation from Black Heart and it didn't deliver. The pacing was also something I struggled with a little. There were dry spells in the novel that left me with not a lot to say and not a lot that I remember and whether that's because I was enjoying it so much I could pinpoint what I enjoyed, or that there wasn't much going on at all, I really can't say, but it was these moments that left the plot and pacing a little off for me. Personal problem? Probably.

What I absolutely loved in this installment was just how important every single character in this installment was, form Gage to Jones, Z to Cassel's Grandfather and everyone in between. Every character had there part to play in what could possibly have been the biggest and best hustle I've been able to read or witness in a long time. I didn't know who was on what side, which side was actually worth standing on and who I was rooting for. Deep down, I think I was rooting for the criminals all along which is fantastic because I'd been looking for a book that did that perfectly and this series does it. The development Cassel went through from White Cat to Black Heart is absolutely amazing; from non-worker wishing for normality in his life to most feared worker around with nothing but insanity coming from every corner and I couldn't have related to him more. He was quick-witted and humourous, spontaneous and brave, but also subtle and sly with the right amount of cunning and he can seriously talk the talk and walk the walk. As a narrator, Cassel's been one of the most honest and most down-to-earth characters I'd had the pleasure of being with, his swears and his emotions, his sarcasm and his morals, it was all wonderful to read about and see and I'm quite pleased with just how much Black developed him. His romance with Lila, well, I think it's fair to say I'm pretty damn smug and pleased about it, Black took everything I wanted, took every raw emotion I'd felt from the rest of the series and developed it into something beautiful, which I adored. Daneca and Sam, well that's a different story, and a complicated one. On the one hand, I can understand why Cassel believes they should be together, they are a wonderful couple, but from an understanding and genuine happiness point of view, I doubt his decision and involvement with Daneca and Barron. Barron wasn't exactly the nicest charcater in this series, and his development was so subtle and so brilliant that I really started to appreciate him, but I do strangely believe the what could have been romance between those two would have been worth the reading. The revelations about other characters, about Z and Cassel's Mother, about Mina and Wharton, about Jones and the Feds, was also brilliant and as a full cast of characters go, this series has it all.

The final few chapters of Black Heart were so utterly fabulous I found myself ooo'ing, argh'ing and aww'ing the whole way through. The subtle tricks, the cons, the plans, the blow-outs, the revelations, everything, it was executed perfectly and if I could rate Black Heart on his its final few chapters, it'd be a 5 star rating for sure, but I can't. Black Heart and the whole of the Curse Workers series is written in such an addictive and engaging way that it's hard to leave the series for long and I can't imagine how different I would feel if I had had to wait each year for every new release. I loved the hints on cons and magic, the subtle turn of hand tricks and the lies surrounding everyone and just how much development, both in plot and character this series had. I guess in truth, Curse Workers is about finding yourself deep within you, believing in what your capable of and holding your own, standing your ground and finding the truth in world behind the lies. We all have the ability to kill and influence others, and we all have the ability to influences peoples dreams and our own luck, but we can't do what Cassel does, we can't change people or ourselves, but what we can is change who we surround ourselves with and search for happiness, even if happiness is a white cat.


  1. Ok can't read because of the spoilers but I'm totally going to need to finish this trilogy!

    1. You really need to, it's fantastic and it'll so be worth it! :)

  2. I have been meaning to read some more Holly Black. I'm glad that this book used all it's characters purposefully, that's really rare these days!

    Lovely review, Amanda <33

    1. It's a fantastic series Mel, really, I think you'd enjoy them :)

  3. I only skimmed this because of the mild spoilers, but man, I definitely need to read this!! :)


We appreciate the time you take to leave a comment and do our very best to reply as soon as possible.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...