Title: Black Heart
Author: Holly Black
Series: Curse Workers
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Challenge: YA/Middle Grade Fantasy
How Received: Purchased
Summary (as quoted from Amazon):
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.
Black Heart is the most wickedly amazing, beautifully written book I’ve read in years.
The story follows seventeen year old Cassel Sharpe, who’s life is more complicated than anyone can imagine. Attempting to do the right thing, Cassel has left his con artist career behind and joined the Feds, hoping that he can help people instead of hurting them. But when the Feds ask Cassel to use his power as a transformation worker - a power that enables him to turn people into any type of object, something that he never wanted to do again- to get rid of a well known anti-curse worker politician, he realizes that maybe the line between right and wrong isn’t so clear cut. Not that he isn’t tempted to do the job; after all, the politician he is supposed to transform is the same politician who caused his mother to get in serious trouble with the law. But after all the trouble he went through to try and leave a life of conning behind, he’s being asked to do it again, and he’s not so sure that the Feds are any better than the mob.
But worrying about whether or not the Feds are con artists themselves isn’t the only problem Cassel’s got. Lila, the love of his life, is getting ready to take over her father’s seat in the Mob, which turns her into Cassel’s enemy. Not to mention that her father has kidnapped Cassel’s mother because of a very important item, called the Resurrection Diamond, that she stole from him years ago. Now, its up to Cassel to find the Resurrection Diamond and bring his mother back home.
While taking all of this in, Cassel is faced with another mystery at school ; a curse worker named Mina is claiming she’s being blackmailed by her boyfriend, and she wants Cassel to help solve the case. But the details seem sketchy, and he isn’t so sure that Mina is telling him everything. So he enlists help from his best friend, Sam, and as they learn more about the supposed blackmailer, they find that the motives and lies in their school have grown to be extraordinarily complicated and deceptive.
The thought, can Cassel really outrun the cons that surround him, or will they catch up to him before he can blink? haunted me the entire book. The way everything turned out completely shocked me. And even though we see everything through Cassel’s eyes, he still managed to surprise me with his decisions. He really grew as a character in this book, and the choices he made, while not always right or easy, were definitely courageous. Lila… Lila is just amazing. There are no words that can properly describe her awesomeness. She was even tougher in this book than she was in the last one. Full of sass, sarcastic remarks, and an I-will-kick-your-butt-if-you-disagree-with-me attitude, Lila is definitely one of my favorite heroines in any book, ever. Sam was very different! We get to see him angry and unstable, something we didn’t really get to see previously. But by the end of the novel, I think he was much more mature, and if not fully sane, definitely better than he’d ever been before. Sam’s ex-girlfriend, Daneca, was her usual emotional, loving self, though she made some choices that I wasn’t expecting her to make at all. Barron, Cassel’s brother, was super awesome. He’s a unique dude, and even though he’s a con artist through and through, he has a sweet side, a side that enables him to fall in love and take risks for his family. There were so many awesome characters in this book, I couldn’t possibly name them all ; but I can say that everyone grew a lot, and that all of the characters showed many different sides that made them complicated, vulnerable, and relatable all at the same time.
Full of twists, turns, and a plot that will keep you on your toes, Black Heart is a delectable novel that will make you wish you could turn the pages faster ; a must read!
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