Black Heart (The Curse Workers Book #3)
Author: Holly Black
Some violence, language,
****Alert: Since this a review for book three of a series, it contains spoilers for anyone who hasn't read White Cat and Red Glove. If you find yourself in that unenviable position, you need to immediately step away from your computer, use the fastest means of transportation available to you, and get yourself to a bookstore so you can begin reading what is sure to become one of your favorite series. (If you're new to Holly Black, then you've got even more catching up to do. Don't miss out on Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside!)
Now back to the review. Cassel Sharpe is an eminently sympathetic character. He's a loyal friend/brother/son. He has a surprisingly strong sense of right and wrong, considering he was raised in a family of supernatural thieves and con artists. A family which lied to him and made him believe he was the black sheep without the power to alter people's memories, make them fall in love, or kill them with a single touch. He was the outcast since he wasn't a "Curse Worker". Just one problem: He is a curse worker. And not just any curse worker, but a transformation worker. He has the ability to turn you into anyone or anything he wants. So they used him to commit murders and to transform his best friend and only girl he ever loved into a cat, then erased his memory of it (White Cat). In attempt to set things straight his mom, the emotion worker, curses the girl to fall in love with him. So now he can't be with her because he knows it's not real and refuses to take advantage of the situation (Red Glove). It's amazing that he doesn't go on a psychopathic rampage transforming everyone into beanbag chairs!
In Black Heart he's got the Feds hounding him to join their Licensed Minority Division so they can have the rarest and most feared type of curse worker as their own weapon. Then there's the crime boss (and father of the girl of his dreams) who's holding his mother hostage until he can retrieve a diamond she once stole from him. And just for fun, let's throw in a terrified girl from school who begs him to help her deal with a blackmailer, while clearly holding back some vital information. There's just so much being thrown at this kid from every angle. But he just takes it all in stride and stays one step ahead while everyone thinks they're playing him.
Black Heart is a fast paced, fun, and extremely well written novel. The characters and situations are completely believable. The setting is beautifully constructed. The plot is well thought out and perfectly executed. Exactly what I've come to expect from Holly Black, who clearly works her magic by touching her fingers to a keyboard. For writing this solid, the blowback must be crazy!