With White Cat, Holly Black's created a world where magic (or "working") was outlawed during prohibition. So, naturally today - business is booming fo..Show More »r the mafia and their curse workers. Cassel's a teenage kid who doesn't fit in at the rich preppy boarding school he's been forced to attend, and he doesn't quite fit in with his family of con artists - most of who work for the mob. He doesn't have the working talents his brothers do, but he knows cons. When he finds himself about to take a walk off a rooftop in his sleep, he starts to think someone's playing him.
Black's YA books have a dark, gritty feel to them, and this one's no different. But at the same time, it's incredible fun listening as her story's long cons play out and are eventually revealed.
Jesse Eisenberg does a great job reading this - his performance is practiced nonchalance and low-key, so much so that you can't help wondering if he's just playing the odds and misdirecting your attention, making the magic feel all the more real and surprising.
Highly recommended if you like magic, gangsters, and con-artists.
For no good reason, I kept skipping Holly Black, despite the fact that I'd had her recommended to me. What a loss.
The story is compelling. Even..Show More » the good characters are kind of bad. No one is perfect, and even the worst people are somewhat likable. It's not precisely that you can't figure out what's going to happen before it does, but there are still so many good plot twists that you're always left wanting more. There is some angst, which is ordinarily annoying, but here is understandable and entirely tolerable. These kids have the right to whine, and despite a love story element, there is no ridiculous "OMG, I'm 16 and have known you for 3 seconds, but I'll love you forever and ever and life would be meaningless without you" junk that can make YAs unreadable.
The narration is excellent too. There's nothing in particular to single out and say, this is why this narration is great; it just is. There's nothing negative to say about the narration except perhaps that he doesn't do a lot of voices, so occasionally it can be somewhat difficult to determine who's talking. It's better though that he doesn't, because it keeps characters from sounding weird or being distracting in the story.
Can't wait for the next one.
Holly Black concludes her Curse Workers trilogy with a bang as Cassel Sharpe finds himself playing both sides of the law - doing his best to make sure..Show More » that he, his friends, and family come out of it alive. Both the mob and the feds want Cassel for the special talent he possesses, and as the story progresses, it gets harder to tell the good guys from the bad guys.
And yet - for a story involving murder, mobsters, con artists, and all other moral shades of gray - it's surprising how incredibly fun this book is.
As much as the cons and the crime, what anchors Black Heart (and the rest of this series) are the characters and their relationships. It's great to see everyone again - Sam and Danica, even when they hate each other, make you feel like you're hanging out with old friends. Lila Zacharov, now working for her father's brand of organized crime, gets to show her ruthless side, and it does not disappoint. The angst between her and Cassel is pitch-perfect - it's never in question whether or not they're in love; what you're not sure of is if it will work - whether or not they're lives are just too different. But Black does an especially excellent job of ratcheting up the complexity of Cassel's relationship to his brother Baron, making Baron one of the most compelling and interesting characters in the series. If Black comes back to these characters and this world, it would be really fascinating to see more of Baron.
Jesse Eisenberg's narration plays it all straight, his voice never giving away who is safe, who is dangerous, and who is conning you. His reading is perfect for these books.
It's a solid ending to an outstanding trilogy. I hope one day we get more Curse Workers books.