Thursday, April 19, 2012

Black Heart by Holly Black

Book Jacket

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.


What a great ending to a fantastic series!  Black's trilogy remains one of the freshest, most imaginative takes on magic to date.  Her story delves into the messiness of friendships, families, and relationships.  Nothing is ever easy, but many things are worth the trouble.

Cassel is one of my favorite protagonists.  He is smart, creative, and loyal.  He is hopelessly romantic.  He sees the world as one big con.  He trusts and can never trust.  He makes selfish decisions.  He messes up.  He pulls cons on people way more talented than him.  He is a big bundle of contradictions and emotions, and he feels very real because of it.

I loved how Black took the central drama of her previous books--Cassel struggling with whether or not he is good or bad--and expanded the question to the world at large.  Are the good guys really good?  And how bad are the bad guys?  Whose side should Cassel be on, and is anyone actually on Cassel's side?

This book is just as fun as its predecessors.  More cons!  More screwed up Sharpe family members!  More confusing Lila feelings!  More mind games!  So much fun.

Five out of five incriminating photographs.

Release Date:  April 2012
Reading Level: Grade 9+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection:  YPL BLA

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