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Black Heart: The Curse Workers, Book 3


Black Heart: The Curse Workers, Book 3

The thing about being a con man is that you are usually the one doing the conning. Cassel Sharpe should know best. He has grown up in a family of curse workers --- people who are able to manipulate emotions, change luck, affect memories, and more --- and has seen cons being played out left and right. He has also pulled off a few cons himself, as he is a transformation worker, who can change the shape of anything into something entirely new. The problem, though, is that Cassel feels as if he’s the one being manipulated this time --- and he doesn’t like it.

"The action is fast-paced, the characters are fully developed and charming, and the underlying mysteries keep you guessing until the end."

First of all, there is the small problem of Cassel reluctantly agreeing to work for the Feds. His older brother, Barron, is a new agent himself and has dragged Cassel along for a little training. Sure, the Feds have agreed to let Cassel finish out high school before working for them, but there is no way the government is going to let a transformation worker out of their sight. Although Cassel has convinced himself that the Feds are the good guys, he still feels they aren’t telling the truth about their plans for his unique ability. If the Feds are crooked, then who is there to trust?

It certainly wouldn’t be the Zacharov family --- aka the Mob --- and their newest recruit, Lila. Cassel and Lila, of course, have a long and complicated history, but he isn’t sure he’s ready to trust her just yet. This may be because Cassel can’t stop thinking about Lila and his undying love for her. For her part, Lila is having a bumpy time taking over the Mob business from her father. Regardless, Cassel has a lot to figure out when it comes to Lila and what that could mean for the future, but he just can’t bring himself to work for the Mob, even when it seems like the Mob is dictating his every action.

All of this uncertainty makes Cassel question what comes next. The Feds have a special job for him, one that seems fishy from the start. A powerful political figure who wants to regulate curse workers is getting out of hand. The Feds want Cassel to “take care” of him and thus commit to working for the Feds for good. Cassel recognizes the con immediately, but is not sure whom to trust. He can’t go to Lila for help, as it would reveal his connection to the Feds, and giving in to their demands doesn’t seem the way to go either. Cassel will have to trust his instincts and what he cares about most, even if it means taking a giant leap of faith.

As Holly Black continues her success of creating an alternate world filled with intrigue, mysteries and drama that packs a punch, I just have one question: How do these people handle wearing gloves all day? Seriously, though, the Curse Workers series is as unique a creation as anything I’ve ever read. The action is fast-paced, the characters are fully developed and charming, and the underlying mysteries keep you guessing until the end. BLACK HEART stands well on its own, but you would be a fool not to go back and read the first two books --- and that is the truth.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on April 27, 2012

Black Heart: The Curse Workers, Book 3
by Holly Black