Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Black Heart

Cassel Sharpe is trying to turn over a new leaf. He comes from a family of curse workers involved in organized crime; he was previously used as an assassin unbeknownst to him; and he's in love with a girl who has decided to involve herself further in the illicit dealings of the mob. Determined to stay on the straight and narrow, he forces himself to work with the Feds, even though it has been hammered into his brain that they are the enemy. When they ask him to do the only thing he promised himself he would ever repeat, he doesn't know what is right or wrong anymore. Pulled between the mob (who hold his mother hostage) and the feds, Cassel walks a tightrope between them, trying to appease both while not truly joining either. Now he has to sift out the truth amongst all the lies and hope that he can live with the choice he makes.

Cassel is back! He is one of my favorite protagonists in YA fiction. Using his cunning and intelligence, he deftly navigates working for the feds, helping the mob, and protecting his family and himself. He doesn't always make the right decisions and definitely isn't perfect, but he works with everything he has and tries to make the best of it with some humor and sarcasm to top it off. I sincerely wish that all YA heroes and heroines were imbued with a little bit of Cassel. Many of them would be a lot more interesting and less frustrating to read. Anyway, he is caught up in a number of plot lines that cause him to have run-ins with everyone from the feds to the school faculty. He has grown so much in the course of the series and truly seeks to do good in the world. His romance with Lila is as heartbreaking as ever as they are both torn apart by opposing factions and circumstances on top of all the other emotional baggage from their past.

Black Heart is a formidable book with skilled writing from Holly Black. However, I felt something was missing. Red Glove was so awesome and this book just came up a little short for me. The story line at his school felt like it didn't quite mesh with the rest of the novel. There was ample action and intrigue and I was satisfied with the ending. However, the world surrounding Cassel has gotten so big and interesting that I was left wondering what went on outside of his story and the ramifications of his actions on the world. I really hope Holly Black revisits the world either to continue Cassel's story (which I would love!) or simply create new characters.

I love the Curse Worker series, but the ending left me with mixed feelings and a little lost. I still enjoyed this book and would definitely highly recommend the entire series to fans of urban fantasy.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

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