November 19, 2013
Black Heart by Holly Black
by Holly Black
Margaret K. McElderry
In a world much like our own, magic is illegal. In our world, that wouldn’t be a huge problem but Cassel was born with magic. Imagine having amazing abilities and not being able to use them unless, of course, you are willing to be a criminal. To some people, it might seem like that Cassel was born into a criminal family, small time but a criminal family nonetheless.
One brother, now deceased, was a curse worker. Another works memories. Mom can work someone’s emotions. Cassel? Cassel is the rarest of them all. He can transform people, changing faces or changing them completely. It isn’t surprising then that big criminal families want him for their own and so does the government.
What Cassel wants is getting complicated too. When he was a child, back before he knew he could transform, he wanted to have magic just like everyone else he knew. Now that he has it, he wishes that he could forget the things that he’s done with it. More than anything, he just wants to be a good person, a person his friends can trust.
But how can anyone trust you when you don’t trust yourself? Cassel has signed a deal with the feds and that should make things easier. But when your family is criminal, a deal with the feds means death so he has to hide what he is doing. And then there are the things that they ask him to do. Transforming a person into a living thing isn’t the same as murder but when they ask him to transform a state governor, Cassel starts to ask himself questions — why have them come to someone with no experience, someone they clearly don’t trust? And why should he trust them?
This is an amazing conclusion to the Curse Worker trilogy. It isn’t often that the books get better later in the trilogy but that is what Black has pulled off. Themes of goodness and evil, and personal responsibility play out in an amazing way.
And, the reality is, that the louder Cassel shouts that he is bad, the more convinced the reader is that deep down he is a good person, a person who cares deeply about even those who have hurt him. That said, he has a truly wicked sense of humor that will appeal to male readers.