November 19, 2013

Black Heart by Holly Black

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 1:08 am by suebe2

Black Heart
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.


October 14, 2013

Red Glove by Holly Black

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:20 am by suebe2

Red Glove
by Holly Black
Margaret K. McElderry

As a child, Cassel dreamed of being a worker like everyone else in his family.  His mother works emotions.  His brother Baron works memories.  His oldest brother Phillip is a physical worker, able to inflict damage and pain, but that’s nothing compared to Grandfather.  He is a death worker, able to kill with the touch of an ungloved hand.

As luck would have it, Cassel is a worker but he is the rarest worker of all.  A Transformation Worker, he can change anything or anyone into something else.  Eventually he learns that he can even change himself in order to make a hasty escape.

Now that Cassel knows he is a worker, he finds himself hip deep in one con after another.  His mother wants him to help her find a new mark to finance her lifestyle and his education, and the richer the better.  His brother, now on the outs with the Zacharov crime family because of Cassel, want him to join another family, but still in the role of assassin.  Lila Zacharaov has been worked to believe that she loves him and wants to pose as his fake girlfriend.  Even the feds are involved, wanting him to find the killer behind a series of disappearances as well as his brother’s murder.

Surprisingly, Cassel always thought of school as a place full of phonies but he finds himself making at least a few friends who know who he is and don’t try to use him.

This is the second book in the Curse Workers series.  While I think you could follow this book without reading Book #1 (The White Cat) first, there are subtleties and reasons behind various events that you would miss.  Read The White Cat first.  

This is an easy book to like because, messed up as Cassel is, he is incredibly likable, more-so than many of the other characters.

But this is also a very hard book to describe because it deals with some complex moral issues.  What does it mean to be a good person?  Can you be a good person if you do bad things but for someone’s own good?  How much should you risk to protect a family member who has forced you to murder and then erased your memories?  Does the end result purify the motive behind it?

This is an urban fantasy.  The characters walk in our world if we lived in a world in which magic is possible but feared and despised.  You will adore some of the characters as much as you dislike others but they will all make you think.





%d bloggers like this: