Black Heart by Holly Black (Margaret K. McElderry Books, April 3, 2012)
Review by Kenzie Helene
Nearly two years since the series began, we are finally getting the magnificent conclusion to Holly Black’s Curse Workers series. Now, if you haven’t already read White Cat and Red Glove, you should leave this review, since it will contain spoilers for the first two books. But your lack of preparation for Black Heart can be fixed! All three books have been released, so it’s the best time to launch yourself into this brilliant series.
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.*
Red Glove left Cassel -- and us --in a few too many awkward situations. Shandra Singer is in trouble for making the governor of New Jersey fall in love with her. Lila has joined her father’s mob gang. And meanwhile Cassel and Barron, Cassel’s older brother, have gotten involved with the Feds. Left with this big mess to clean up, I eagerly awaited the arrival of Black Heart. On April 3rd, I woke up early, headed straight for the bookstore, purchased my copy, and was a 87 pages into the novel before classes swept my time and attention away.
In my opinion, Black Heart is the perfect ending to this series. Not every character got their happy ending (or, at least, the ending that would have made them the happiest), but even the complicated ones are heartwarming. Cassel’s dysfunctional relationships with Barron and Shandra held the most interest for me-- seeing the family dynamic change through their interactions and discoveries in Black Heart was great.
Holly Black is an undeniable master of back story, so the characters in the Curse Workers series have never been flat, and yet she manages to add more depth throughout Black Heart. The new motives and emotions that emerge from characters who had minor roles previously offer the reader a more engaged experience during this last book.
The plot is spectacular, not that anyone would expect less from Holly Black. Every time I thought I had a grasp on Cassel’s intentions, he’d turn ‘em around and leave me with my jaw on the floor. It isn’t just Cassel, though. Every character seems to have secret, unexpected plans, and I wanted to facepalm several times for not jumping to the right conclusion the first time... or second time... or third time.
While the end pairings were predictable, the journey to get there was more than worth the trip.
I’m sad that I don’t have anymore Curse Workers books to look forward to now, but I’m certainly happy with how things work out for Cassel, Lila, Sam, and Daneca. I’ll just have to keep rereading these great books, while I wait for new genius plots from Holly Black.
*Taken from Barnes and Noble Website.