BLACK HEART (Curse Workers #3) by Holly Black
296 pages, hardcover
Available April 3, 2012
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
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.
Positive: Cassel. There’s just something honest about Cassel. I mean, aside from the fact that he comes from a long line of liars and is a fantastic liar himself. He’s a con and a curse worker and, while he’s not particularly proud of it, he knows what he is. While he does try the straight and narrow for a while, he just can’t stay on it completely (it doesn’t help that those Feds’ motives are seriously questionable). The art of the con is firmly ingrained.
Positive: The romance. Or, in much of this book, the distinct lack thereof. Cassel’s been in love with Lila, the daughter of a powerful crime lord, forever. Cassel and Lila’s romance is more than just rocky. It’s more like having hearts broken apart into thousands of teeny little bits then attempting to super-glue them back together again. It’s slow-going; filled with shards of happiness, pain and misunderstanding; and seemingly irreparable. Beautifully tragic.
Wish: Tighter cons. There are several light, loose cons throughout this story: a girl at school who needs help with a blackmailer, a sibling con (of course–the Sharpe siblings just don’t do normal), a con for the good of Cassel’s wanted mother. And, while they are fun and distracting, there’s something missing from them. The best con is the final con with the nutso politician–now that’s a tight con.
Wish: More Sam! Cassel’s roommate played a huge role in the second book and I really got to like Sam. In this story, he’s nursing a broken heart–Daneca dumped him and neither of them are good at apologies–and he’s pretty much a wet rag throughout. Poor Cassel is really left out on his own for the majority of this story, with no one to talk to, no one to bounce ideas off of.
Overall: A satisfying ending to a creative and engaging series, BLACK HEART delves deep into the flawed but ultimately redeemable nature of human beings, especially in matters of the heart.
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