It's here. Black Heart. Well, it's been here actually, but I just finished reading it. The final book in the Curse Worker series by Holly Black (check out the series webpage by clicking the link). If you haven't read this series, but are familiair with Black's other work (the modern faerie tales and The Spiderwick Chronicles) this is in a different vein. Yes, there it magic. But there aren't any faeries.
This series is still dark and grungy, like the modern faerie tales (Tithe, Valiant and Ironside) but this series focuses on crime families and how certain people are workers.
What's a worker? It's someone who is gifted with a different kind of magic. There are emotion, luck, physical, memory, dream, death and transformation workers. With a touch of a hand against bare skin one of these people can manipulate you in various ways.
Okay, I'm going to stop there with all the background information. I'm not trying to review the entire series, just the last book. However, I will give my feelings on the previous two books. White Cat, the first book, I loved it. It's a retelling of a not-so-well-known fairy tale by the same name. I thought that the retelling was so awesome and imaginative. Then Red Glove, the second book, kind of let me down. It was good, but I didn't love it. This last book however, made the series.
I remember starting this book thinking that there's no way that this book will have both a satisfactory ending and end happy. I won't give anything away, but I was wrong. Sure, there are some loose strings at the end of the book, but life never ties up in a happy little bow so why should a book?
I love the narrator, Cassel Sharpe. He is so kind, clever, and criminal. He's been raised in a family of criminals and con artists. He's such a strong character. He always wants to do the right thing, but that tends to be the illegal thing. He's stuck between choosing his family or the feds. His brother's have screwed him over time and time again, but they are family. Also, he's in love the the head of a crime family's daughter. What's a poor boy to do? Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? In the course of this book Cassel discovers that life isn't as black and white as he thought it was. There's a lot more grey area.
I also love all of the crime family stuff that Black has worked into this book. It's obvious that she did a lot of research (or you know, was raised in a crime family but I'm pretty sure it's just research). However, the great thing is that you don't get lots of info dumps. She weaves the research in so it really seems like its second nature.
One thing I didn't like about this book was that there was a secondary plot involving a student at Cassel's school and blackmail. It just seemed a bit unnecessary and while it didn't really take away from the overall plot, I felt that it didn't really enhance it.
I feel as if this book got me to love this series again. If you like dark magic, love, cons, and moral dilemmas. I would totally recommend this book.