Review: Black Heart by Holly Black

Posted 24 August, 2012 by Pushy in Pushy, Pushy Book Review / 20 Comments

Black Heart by Holly BlackBlack Heart

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication: April 3rd, 2012 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Audiobook borrowed from library
Get your own: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound
synopsis from Goodreads

In a world where Magic is illegal.

Cassel Sharpe has the most deadly ability of all. With one touch, he can transform any object – including a person – into something else entirely. And that makes him a wanted man. The Feds are willing to forgive all his past crimes if he’ll only leave his con artist family behind and go straight. But why does going straight feel so crooked?

For one thing, it means being on the opposite side of the law from Lila, the girl he loves. She’s the daughter of a mob boss and getting ready to join the family business herself. Though Cassel is pretty sure she can never love him back, he can’t stop obsessing over her. Which would be bad enough, even if her father wasn’t keeping Cassel’s mother prisoner in a posh apartment and threatening not to let her leave until she returns the priceless diamond she scammed off him years ago. Too bad she can’t remember where she put it.

The Feds say they need Cassel to get rid of a powerful man who is spinning dangerously out of control. But if they want Cassel to use his unique talent to hurt people, what separates the good guys from the bad ones? Or is everyone just out to con him?

Time is running out, and all Cassel’s magic and cleverness might not be enough to save him. With no easy answers and no one he can trust, love might be the most dangerous gamble of all.

Holly Black’s phenomenal Curse Workers series comes to an end with this great ending!

Welcome Back!

In this final book of the series, we find ourselves back in the world of the Curse Workers where there are those with magic in their fingertips, a magic that requires a touch to work and which results in a blow back to the worker that can be crippling if not lethal.  Lila’s joined up with her father’s crime family, preparing for the position that’s always been destined for her, Cassel’s oldest brother is dead, his mother is on the run and his other brother is in a federal program with him, something the old workers down in Carney would string him up for.

And while it’s not ideal, it’s a close to good as things have been for Cassel in some time.  Until Cassel finds out that his mother’s not really on the run…she’s a prisoner of the Zacharov family until she can return the Resurrection Diamond she conned from their leader, and Lila’s father, and it’s up to him to bail her out…again!

Things Go Crazy

A lot of crazy stuff happens in this world.  The powers alone are insane!  And Cassel, the youngest in a family of Curse Worker grifters, is continually struggling for some normalcy.  But in this third installment, Cassel’s life gets completely turned upside down.  It’s nearly impossible to determine who to trust and who’s trying to con him.  He can’t even trust his own family and Lila’s barely speaking to him after what happened in the last book.  His school friends’ lives are falling apart and it’s just one enormous mess.

But watching Cassel muddle through it, seeing him analyze the situations, find the best solutions and claw his way to the top is part of what I love about this series.  And the fact that it’s told in Cassel’s perfectly wry and self-deprecating voice is just a delicious treat.  He is by far one of my favorite YA male protagonists!


So I REALLY was pulling for Cassel to get an enormous happily-ever-after in this book.  I mean, seriously, he’s endured thinking he murdered his best friend, finding out that half the people around him want to use him as an assassin, falling in love only to find out the girl of his dreams was cursed and then being responsible for not only his psychotic brothers but his crazy-ass mother.  This boy is a SAINT.
And even if his halo’s a bit tarnished by the occasional con, I just love the scamp!  So when the ending of this book finally arrived, I was ready for a finale of epic proportions.  I wanted Cassel to go out as a legend!  I wanted the kids in Carney to grow up whispering about the boy who got it all.  But I find myself wondering, as I write this, if that’s the sort of ending Cassel would have wanted for his story.
For while our story does have a happy ending of a sort, it’s bittersweet and definitely not glorious.  This story ends almost quietly and I wasn’t prepared for it.  And while I’m happy for the things Cassel did get in the end, I was left wondering if there wouldn’t be just one more book, to let us know Cassel really would be okay.  But I guess that’s the way some stories go…you just don’t know in the end that it’ll be HEA.  As with real life, you just have to take the moments as they come, appreciate them for what they are, and look for the next good thing down the road.

Bewitched Rating

 Bottom Line

I was sad to see this series come to an end.  Ms. Black’s world building skills are beyond measure and I adore every moment in her world.  This series is a fantastic escape into a YA version of a hard-boiled detective novel but interwoven with the perfect touch of magic!


Get your own Audiobook at audible: Black Heart (unabridged, 6hrs 33min)

Jesse Eisenberg was superb as always in his depiction of not only Cassel Sharpe but the entire cast of characters in this book.  I loved every second I spent listening to him, not only in this book but in the entire series.  He’s a phenomenal narrator and I highly recommend the audiobook version!  It’s fantastic!!

So let me ask you this….have you ever had another book where the ending didn’t resonate with you, no matter how much you loved the book/series?  Let me know in the comments!!

Now go and get lost…in a book!
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Lover of words and authors; absolute fan girl of books! Give me a good story, with characters I can love (and hate) and I'll follow you anywhere. Sing me a song of worlds I can dream of, and I'll listen forever.



20 Responses to “Review: Black Heart by Holly Black”

  1. A quiet ending!? Hmm. I haven’t read the second book yet but I loved the first. I’m definitely due for some more Cassel! I love the sounds of this one though it sounds like it gets pretty freaking exciting and upside down! Great review, Pushy!

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  2. Thanks, Giselle!! I adored these books and the second, Red Glove, is by far my favorite. This one was good too, it’s just a different ending than I imagined and it was hard to get my head around that. 🙂

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  3. I was worried that I wouldn’t be happy with the ending in this one. I didn’t see how it could possibly wrap everything up and still give us enough. But I was surprised with how happy I was with the ending. I’m a HEA kinda girl and I was satisfied.
    I just love Cassel! I wish the series went on longer cause he’s just such a fantastic character!
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    Pushy 8/24/2012

    Hey, Candace! Glad you liked the ending! I liked it but as I said, I felt there could be a bit more. But I agree. Love me some Cassel!!
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