In the third and final installment in her Curse Workers trilogy–Black Heart–Holly Black spins another tale of intrigue, lies, and curses that her bad-boy-gone-good protagonist, Cassel Sharpe must unravel. As he so recently learned in Red Glove, things around him aren’t always as they seem and the world of good and evil isn’t always so cut and dry. When you come from a family of hardened criminals, liars, and con artists–and the girl you love is next in line to rule the biggest crime cartel in the city–it’s difficult to make the right decisions. Especially when those decisions lead you to work as an undercover government agent, a betrayal so great that any one of your own family members would be willing to kill you for it. But when Cassel gets an assignment from the government that’s a bit too much like the assassinations his brothers made him participate in as a child (using his powers to transform living people into inanimate objects, thus killing them) it makes him question whether he’s finally gotten in over his head.
I loved this series, but I especially loved Black Heart. Black had so many twisted strands of problems and cons threaded together, that only an author of her caliber would’ve been able to pull it off in such a short book. She is one of my favorite authors because of these threads she weaves, as well as the fact that all of her characters (even the “good guys”) are more than a little bit dark. It’s the flaws in people that make them interesting, after all.
Cassel’s world makes me imagine what life would be like if the cops weren’t on your side. Most people are raised to believe that if they’re ever in trouble, help is only a three digit phone call away. But what if that wasn’t true? How would you deal with danger if there were no one to turn to, magic (and guns!) were involved, and even your closest surviving relatives couldn’t be trusted? Phew. I get upset enough about rush hour traffic in the morning…I don’t know how I would deal with that!
Black also did a great job comparing the prejudice against curse workers to the prejudice against blacks in the 50’s and gays in today’s world. Picket marches, soap-box politicians, new dangerous laws, mandatory testing, and discrimination on the job. Pretty heavy stuff. She used great imagery when conjuring these scenes and Cassel’s world really echoes the shortcomings of our own.
The only thing that bothering me within the story was at the end how Cassel handled Daneca’s new relationship (I won’t spoil it!) and his tempestuous relationship with Lila. We can tell you guys want each other, just do it for crissakes! I’m an impatient person and it was hard for me to wait to see what would happen between them next. Especially when Cassel learns that Lila’s father is holding his mother captive in his high rise apartment, either until he gets tired of her or until Cassel finds the Resurrection Diamond. (And you thought your in-laws were tough!)
4 leather gloves of 5