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Curse Workers #3

Black Heart

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In a world where magic is illegal, Cassel Sharpe has the most deadly ability of all. With one touch, he can transform any object--including a person--into something else entirely. And that makes him a wanted man. The Feds are willing to forgive all his past crimes if he'll only leave his con artist family behind and go straight. But why does going straight feel so crooked?

For one thing, it means being on the opposite side of the law from Lila, the girl he loves. She's the daughter of a mob boss and though Cassel is pretty sure she can never love him back, he can't stop obsessing over her. Which would be bad enough, even if her father wasn't keeping Cassel's mother prisoner until she returns the priceless diamond she scammed off him years ago. Too bad she can't remember where she put it.

The Feds say they need Cassel to get rid of a powerful man who is spinning dangerously out of control. But if they want Cassel to use his unique talent to hurt people, what separates the good guys from the bad ones? With no easy answers and no one he can trust, love might be the most dangerous gamble of all.

297 pages, Hardcover

First published April 3, 2012

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About the author

Holly Black

222 books86.6k followers
Holly Black is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over thirty fantasy novels for kids and teens. She has been a finalist for an Eisner Award and the Lodestar Award, and the recipient of the Mythopoeic Award, a Nebula, and a Newbery Honor. Her books have been translated into 32 languages worldwide and adapted for film. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret library.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,816 reviews
Profile Image for Bern.
192 reviews
June 26, 2012
This fucking book.

This fucking book right here.

It can go fuck itself. I'm sorry, I'm sorry if you're reading this and cuss words aren't your thing, but I can't muster the strength to give a damn right now.

Did you hear me, Black Heart? Fuck you.

You were being so nice and perfect, just like the rest of the series was, and I was thinking i'd miss you, but noooo, you had to do it, you had to wait until the last pages and eat my feelings up, chew them like the fucker you are and spit them the fuck out because you wanted to show how fucking badass you were.

Fucking congratulations.

I can't. I just fucking can't.

I don't even know what I'm feeling and I kinda cried and I'm probably still crying internally and JESUS CHRIST I HATE YOU, YOU STUPID BOOK. I love you, though.

I can't believe you're over. Please let me be delirious. Please let me high and when the effect of it blows over I'll still have more of you to read.

I just...

Fuck you, you shitfaced asshole of a book. Just, fuck you ok?

I can't.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
April 15, 2012

The more I consider it, the more I wonder if I was just having a bad day when I read Red Glove and found myself mostly underwhelmed by it. I still think that White Cat was this series' highest point and the other two installments never quite achieved what the opening book did, I just thought that White Cat had so much going on but Ms Black somehow managed to juggle it superbly so the plot never felt too much or overcrowded. And there was just a touch too much relationship drama going on in Red Glove and Black Heart for my tastes.

However, I didn't have the same problems with this as I did with the second book, despite the relationship dramas. I still remained hooked throughout and enjoyed revisiting Cassel and his family. Though the main mystery occasionally got lost behind various subplots involving blackmail and Sam and Daneca's tumultuous relationship, I enjoyed these mini-stories enough this time around that I wasn't bored.

My final conclusions on the curse workers series is that it is most definitely worth reading. It stands out so much from all the other YA urban fantasy novels that are available today, as of yet I haven't found anything quite like it - which is a huge plus! It's a unique world with an array of interesting characters - some of which you can both love and hate equally - and excellent mystery stories. I don't know if it's because I'm extremely dense or because Ms Black is such a talented writer, but she always manages to surprise me.

As a reader who has had some not so great experiences with Black's other work, I can say that this is the kind of series you should still read if you hated Tithe, and I am awaiting the publication of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown with a mixture of excitement and apprehension.
Profile Image for Anne.
3,917 reviews69.3k followers
September 26, 2020
I thought there would some sort of BIG CON that happened in this one.
You know, because Cassel comes from a family of grifters.


And yeaaaaaaah. Sort of. But it wasn't all that well thought out and he should really probably be dead now because of the sheer amount of stupid involved in it.
But ok. Whatever.


FYI there's a little fade to black sex scene in this one. But by god, those poor kids deserve a little nookie after all they've been through!


I still enjoyed not only the world and the characters but also Jesse Eisenberg's narration of the audiobook. And if there's a spin-off series, I'd come back to read it.
March 6, 2015
Girls like her, my grandfather once warned me, girls like her turn into women with eyes like bullet holes and mouths made of knives. They are always restless. They are always hungry. They are bad news. They will drink you down like a shot of whisky. Falling in love with them is like falling down a flight of stairs.
What no one told me, with all those warnings, is that even after you've fallen, even after you know how painful it is, you'd still get in line to do it again.

Awwwwwwww!! I cannot believe how perfectly perfect that ended. I really wanted to write this super long review and make it an absolutely amazing ending to my reading spree of this series but...I dunno. It kind of feels right to just put down a few quotes and call it a day. After all, I don't want to beat a dead horse, right?

A few closing thoughts:

-Cassel is unbelievably, undeniably, without even the slightest doubt the cutest conman ever. Loyal, in love, terrified to make the wrong decision....and utterly hopeless. I would follow his story anywhere-he's adorable.

"I thought you wanted us to be good guys." He grins a too-wide grin. He's enjoying needling me, and my reacting only makes it worse, but I can't stop.
"Not if it means hurting her," I say, my voice as deadly as I can make it. "Never her."

-The perilistically (my new word, you like?) pleasing ending. WOW. I did NOT expect that. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't move, I was paralyzed because of how scared I was for Cassel. I couldn't see any possible positive outcomes for my favorite little liar at the end of this one.

If I have to die tomorrow when the Feds come for me, then this is the last request of my heart. This. The sight of her lashes brushing her cheek as her eyes flutter closed. The pulse in her throat. Her breath in my mouth. This.

-Cassel...oooohhh errrr awkward....But wait! His heroic actions were amazing and they made me fall in love with him even more. I'm utterly obsessed with him, the unreliable little shit.

I think of not knowing what compelled me to strike a gun out of the hand of a killer. Of how satisfying it was to hit Kevin. Of how I want to do it again and again, want to feel the bones snap and blood smear. Of how it felt to stand over him, my skin on fire with rage.

-The Romance. Ahhhh not much to say, but can I just express my undying shipping of Lila and Cassel?? 'Cuz I caaan't stooooop, I wooon't stooooop... Hmmmm....anyway....

I love love LOVED this installment and I am so sad it's all over. It's beyond depressing that I will never read about Cassel and his fucked up life again. I put my Ipad down last night and felt a pang of sadness after I finished this story because I was smiling so big and so overwhelmed with happiness and it was just over. But it ended where it should have and all is right in the world. I won't mess with that. I am so glad I picked up this random series, because it was amazing and so unlike anything I've ever read. I will never forget it and I hope you give it a chance, too. :)

Now I know why people are afraid of transformation workers. Now I know why they want to control me. Now I get it.
I can walk into someone's house, kiss their wife, sit down at their table, and eat their dinner. I can lift a passport at an airport, and in twenty minutes it will seem like it's mine. I can be a blackbird staring in the window. I can be a cat creeping along a ledge. I can go anywhere I want and do the worst things I can imagine, with nothing to ever connect me to those crimes. Today I might look like me, but tomorrow I could look like you. I could be you.

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Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,399 reviews11.7k followers
February 11, 2012
As seen on The Readventurer

3.5 stars

If you haven't read White Cat and Red Glove yet and are still contemplating if you should start another series that might take a nosedive half-way through, let me assure you, Curse Workers remains fairly consistent. Just don't read book synopses and spoilers or the rest of this review and enjoy the ride.

As a trilogy conclusion, Black Heart is satisfying, albeit a little weaker in terms of plotting than its predecessors. Hence, 3.5 stars instead of 4.

Cassel's journey to find his place in a world, where his value as a transformation worker is unprecedented, continues, and it seems he just can't catch a break. Everyone (Feds, mafia, his family) wants to use him one way or another, through threats, blackmail or shiny promises. But what is the right thing for him to do? Who to join? And what to take a stand against?

I keep repeating myself talking about these books, how much like I like the cons and how entertaining it is to watch Cassel outsmart his much more powerful enemies. And although there is a certain slackness about a couple of story lines in this finale (for instance, the subplot about Cassel's classmate needing help in a blackmail scheme required a little more development) Black Heart is still sufficiently mysterious and twisty. And the conclusion to Cassel's and Lila's story is both tied up and open-ended, just the way I like my endings to be.

Basically, what I'm trying to say is that I stand by this series from the beginning to end. Holly Black created a unique world with unique magic and the characters I'd love to meet again.

And the last thing. I can't finish reviewing this series without mentioning Jesse Eeisenberg who narrated the audio versions of the novels.

For me, he was a major factor in getting me wildly attached to Cassel Sharpe. He added a layer of nerdy vulnerability and puppy charm to Cassel's character. What can I say? I have a bit of a thing for Jesse.
Profile Image for Lucie V..
971 reviews1,769 followers
June 1, 2022
You're a liar Cassel Sharpe. A lying liar who lies.

✅ Magic / Powers
✅ Betrayal / Lies
✅ Characters and relationships
✅ Intrigue / Investigation
🆗✅ Pace

That's family for you. Can't live with them, can't murder them.

I think these quotes sum up Black Heart perfectly. The story picks up a few weeks after the end of Red Glove and Cassel has to balance his school life, his work with the feds, and the problems in his relationship with Lila. He can't seem to trust his own brother, his mother, or the government and he somehow has to figure out who is trying to use him, who is trying to kill him, and who will be there to help him. The intrigue in Black Heart is more complex than in Red Glove and better laid out. I liked this finale more than I did the second book.

“But now I wonder--what if everyone is pretty much the same and it's just a thousand small choices that add up to the person you are? No good or evil, no black and white, no inner demons or angels whispering the right answers in our ears like it's some cosmic SAT test. Just us, hour by hour, minute by minute, day by day, making the best choices we can.
The thought is horrifying. If that's true, then there's no right choice. There's only choice.”

This book shows us how Cassel finally takes control of what is going on in his life. He is being pushed and pulled in whatever direction his family, the feds, or the mafia chooses, but Cassel now decides if he wants to follow through with these orders or not.

“You want me to say something? Okay. Sometimes I think I am what you made me. And sometimes I don’t know who I am at all. And either way I’m not happy.”

I also liked the open ending here. I loved that Cassel finally chose what he wanted, instead of trying to do what was expected of him or was best for everyone else. Honestly, I was not expecting to like this series this much, but I am very happy that I finally took the time to read White Cat (it has been on my to-read shelf for over a year).

White Cat ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Red Glove ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Profile Image for Lo Bookfrantic.
766 reviews566 followers
May 25, 2018
Loved this last book so hard. I was fully invested in this fantasy world of trickery and mobs. The story went full circle on this last book and loved every moment of it. Definitely recommend to any young adult lovers.
Profile Image for Alyssa.
366 reviews284 followers
April 20, 2012
After Reading:

WHY IS IT OVERRRRRRRRRRRRRR???????????????????????

4.5 stars

Before Reading:

Publishers need to stop with this cover-changing behavior. It's messing up my bookshelf and littering the world with mix-matching series.
Profile Image for Giulia.
152 reviews238 followers
March 2, 2016
Birth to grave, we know it'll be us one day. Our tragedy is that we forget it might be someone else first.

This book. Honestly, this damn book.
I read a lot. Some books I like, some books I don't, and some books I really like, but this isn't even one of those. This book, along with the rest of the trilogy, is the kind of book that stays with you even after you've finished it, the kind you keep thinking about and you can't quite shake off, as if it somehow crawled under your skin and you can't get rid of it. I feel like Cassel is still here with me, watching the screen over my shoulder while breathing quietly.

I've told everyone about this book: my friends, my family, anyone who was willing to listen, since I started reading White Cat less than two weeks ago. It took me so little to finish this trilogy, and I even read another Holly Black book in between White Cat and Red Glove, but what else was I supposed to do? I couldn't stop reading. I read one chapter and I wanted more, and suddenly I was already at the end of the book, and I still wanted more.

The thing about this trilogy and this book, is that you're not expecting it. If you already know Holly Black, you'll know she's an incredibly talented writer, but this book is so much more than just good writing. .
The universe The Curse Workers trilogy is set in is unlike anything else in fantasy literature: no vampires, no werewolves, no angels; this universe is inhabited by workers. In this kind of world, no one is really good or evil, but people seem to act only based on their own interests. I bet this wasn't an easy book to write, because it must have required a lot of research, and everything about it is just so realistic. From the main character, Cassel (whose name reminds me of the angel Castiel, so how could I not love him from the very beginning?), to his family, to the whole world building.
Cassel is a liar and a con artist, and you don't get many books about those. He's very good at what he does, because he's the kind of person that can charm you just as easily as he can trick you, but he's not infallible. He makes mistakes. He figures things out just as the reader does, because he's smart, but he's still human - well, sort of. Cassel could be a special snowflake, except he's not. He has a power he didn't think he had, something rare and dangerous, but I didn't feel like I usually do with a lot of other books - like the main character was special for no apparent reason and everyone suddenly adored them. Cassel is charming, but he's also vulnerable: he's in love, and madly so. Love makes him do the strangest things, and even though he's not an hero in the most conventional way, he does care about doing the right thing. But all the while he still keeps lying to the people he loves and there's no excuse for that... because he's simply not a good person. No one in this book really is, not even the ones who are supposed to be the law - the good guys. There are no good guys; there is just chaos, and violence, and people seeking power.

But Cassel is not only in love with Lila, a powerful mobster's daughter and a very powerful and dangerous girl herself. He also cares about his friends, Sam and Daneca, and - in some way - about his messed up family. Cassel's relationship with is family is one of the very best things about this book. I was a little sad that we didn't get to see a lot of his grandfather Desi in Black Heart, because he's an amazing character, but this book just made me fall further in love with Barron. (By the way, Ugh, my heart still aches).
It makes you a different person, not to have a past. It eats away at who you are, until what's left is all construct, all artifice.

Was Barron a controversial character? Yes. Was he an hypocrite? Yes. Was he ruthless and a sociopath with no conscience? Yes, and yes. Did I care? Absolutely not. He's the kind of character that you love no matter what. I knew he was a treacherous snake, and Cassel did too, but I think he couldn't help but feel a bit of affection for his brother, despite everything he'd done.

Cassel's family is a dysfunctional one, and not only because they don't trust each other, but also because they live a life in which trust is never an option. They're all criminals, knee-deep in business with both the mob - the Zacharov family - and the feds. It's never clear where their loyalties lie, because they're unreliable, every single one of them - even Cassel. The three books are full of plot twists and unexpected events, because the characters are extremely unpredictable and keep doing things that surprise you.

There is no right choice. There's just choice.

This is not a book about good people. It's about people trying to get away with their lies and cons, about betrayal and about love - a strange kind of love, that sometimes feels like obsession and sometimes feels almost like hatred. While reading The Curse Workers series, you never know who to trust, and you end up accepting the one advice Cassel offers you: trust no one.
But trust me on this, when I say: go pick up White Cat. If you haven't read the series yet, or if you've read the first books and have somehow managed to wait more than 30 seconds before picking up Black Heart, go and do that right now. It's disconcerting and fast-paced and will make you feel all kinds of emotions but, believe me, it's so much worth it.

"Magic gives you a lot of choices" Grandad says "Most of them are bad." (Red Glove, Holly Black)
Profile Image for Laurie  (barksbooks).
1,722 reviews670 followers
October 7, 2016
I listened to this book as an unabridged audio. It's read by Jesse Eisenberg who does a decent but not awesome job. All of his characters pretty much sound the same. It was a good end to the series but for some reason it seemed to lag in places and get a wee bit boring. Who knows, maybe it was just my mood. It couldn't seem to grab and keep my attention for long like the previous two installments. There was a lot of stuff going on; mob jobs, double crosses, romantic entanglements and small doses of dark humor. I'd recommend reading the first two books and if you must know how it all ends, pick this one up when you're through. I'm giving it a 3.5 but will round up to a 4 because I'm such a sweet person ;)
Profile Image for Gemma ♕ Bookish Gems.
479 reviews219 followers
May 9, 2019
Actual rating 3.5 but I didn't like it enough to round to a 4...

This was definitely the best in the series for me but it still wasn't amazing. I thought it was ok and I liked a lot of the big moments and the end resolution.

There's just something about this series that feels like it's not quite living up to the potential of the story, if that makes sense. There's this great plot idea but the execution is just not working for me.

Such a shame because I normally love Holly Black but this one just wasn't a wow read for me.
Profile Image for Ian.
1,346 reviews188 followers
April 21, 2017
Grifter and transformation curse worker Cassel returns for the third and final book of the Curse Workers series. His mother has disappeared, his girlfriend hates him, his brother knows he was conned, the Feds and the Mob both want him to work for them, and nobody can be trusted.

Black Heart is the best book in the series by a long shot. It has wonderful little digressions into the psychology behind "the con" which didn't really work in book 1 White Cat but fit into this story seamlessly. The first book was quite heavy, almost oppressive, while this one is much lighter and easier to read.

It's a perfect end to a great series.
Profile Image for Vi Vi.
66 reviews15 followers
May 13, 2012
Okay, so I love Holly Black's writing. This is the first of her series I've ever read. I had my fill of faeries with Melissa Marr's series (which I actually liked within reason) so I didn't read Tithe. Plus, I don't really read middle grade so I didn't read that other series she had out that got turned into a film...Spiderwick. Oh yeah.

But this series...there was something about the world she created that was super creative and really appealing to me. Despite the series' shortcomings, Cassel has a charming voice that draws you in (as per his character I suppose) and his family is so deliciously fucked up that they're fun to read about. That's what made me like, and a times even love the first two books. There's some of that here too, in Black Heart, but oh boy, something really, really went wrong in the writing of it. It almost feels like a third book written out of obligation, to fulfill a contract, rather than something that was necessary to complete Cassel's story.


Blah, blah, Cassel is a worker in a world where working (magic) is outlawed and usually associated with criminal activity. His criminal family is fucked up beyond belief and his ex-not-really-girlfriend/obsession is the daughter of a Mob Boss. Here's part of the summary provided by goodreads:

When the Feds ask Cassel to do the one thing he said he would never do again, he needs to sort out what’s a con and what’s truth. In a dangerous game and with his life on the line, Cassel may have to make his biggest gamble yet—this time on love.

Sounds exciting, right? Somebody give these pitch-writing people a medal because the book? OH MY FUCKING GOD IT'S BORING.


I mean look. Last review I mentioned that this series felt almost like a Slice of Life shoujo manga - that is that it, rather than having one central driving plot, really just shows you bits and pieces of the main character's life as it comes. If the bits and pieces are compelling enough, it can work. For whatever reason, it worked for me last book (although who knows if it really was that compelling? To be honest I can barely remember what happened in the second book by now). Here, I was struggling to keep my eyes open.

There are at least four plotlines in this novel:

1) Cassel is working for the feds when one day they ask him to assassinate someone.

2) There is a student at school who wants Cassel to help him with a blackmail case

3) Evil Mob Boss who we Never See Do Anything Evil Zacharov wants Cassel to find a Very Important Item or else his mom gets it

4) Cassel is trying to work through his feelings with Lila

5) Daneca and Sam have relationship problems.

Okay, so at least 3/5 of those plotlines seem somewhat compelling, right?

Except Black executes them shit poorly. Literally, as interesting as they may sound, in the book watching these plotlines unfold is like watching a blank computer screen. WHEN IS ANYTHING GOING TO HAPPEN? Everything is stretched out and told in the least exciting way possible. We're introduced to Cassel's Fed problem in the most boring way possible (Feds just kinda tell him what they need him to do). Then that plotlines disappears for 50 pages, because we have to deal with this blackmail case, which again is depicted in the most boring way posssible (Student just kind of walks up to him and tells him what she needs). There's a lot of Cassel thinking about things, trying to figure out who's conning him, what's really going on. But we need more than thinking, we need something, ANYTHING to drive the plot, and to drive the plot in some kind of engaging way. As it stands, after Cassel's done thinking about his options, he tells us, for five pages, all the minute little things he does in the day before it's time to deal with a new plotline.

"New plotline? Oh hey, let's deal with Daneca and Sam's love problems!" Um, all right, I'd rather you just weave that into the plot without stopping the development of these more compelling storylines just to deal with Sam's shit when it has nothing to do with anything, but okay. So Daneca and Sam broke up. Now Daneca is dating someone else. Sam is mad.

Let's move somewhere else! Oh hey, Zacharov wants Cassel to go find a shiny Important Item. Fetch quest! Huh, wait no, after talking to that one shop owner, it's never mentioned again. WHY?

I mean, most of these storylines aren't resolved in any meaningful way and some of them aren't resolved, AT ALL. At the end of the book I'm wondering, why even mention the Important Item if you weren't going to fucking do ANYTHING with it. ANYTHING? Are there more books in the works? Maybe, but there needs to be some indication in this book that this is important in any way otherwise WHY even mention it? Daneca and Sam's plotline as well was pretty shittily handled. Yes, it's a subplot, but then you have Daneca go out and date another guy that Cassel doesn't improve of. A quick call to the right person solves everything. And then she tells Cassel that he was right...she broke up with her bf, had this huge fight - THAT WE NEVER SEE. Daneca's dramatic storyline all happens off screen.

And at the end of the day, none of these plotlines intersect, ever. This is the second problem I had with the handling of the plot. It's like Half-Blood Prince all over again: you've got a number of different storylines, and it's like they're all programmed into some kind of rotation order. So when Plotline 1 is done, it's time to move on to Plotline 2. And then it's time to move onto Plotline 3. And then after all the plotlines have been established, you might play with the order a little bit, but they never intersect. This didn't bother me in the last book because I was interested in what was going on, but the boringness of the plotlines this time around really exposed the problems that can potentially come from this kind of storytelling. By the time I'd read 3/4 of the book, I started skimming.

Some cool stuff happens towards the end, except very little of it is believable. The way Cassel resolved what the feds asked him to do, the way he basically got away with it, even after what Lila did...Anyone who watches Crime Drama on tv would know that .

It was just exhausting and I couldn't believe that I went through all that filler nonsense just to get to THIS silly-ass climax. Just no.


I don't want to spend too much time with the characters, except to say that while Cassel's voice is still strong, his Bella Swanian Lila obsession grated to no end, mostly because Lila herself was never really a character. Now, this is really, really disappointing to me, because last book when Lila decided she was going to be this bad ass mob princess I was like YA BRING IT. I really, really wanted to see her live up to her potential as a character, but it seemed like while the story tried really hard to tell us that Lila was this awesome bad ass who's no good, but you can't help but love her anyway and her love will burn you up and all that other poetic shit Cassel spouted at least 5 times throughout the entire book, the story never actually let us see this bad assery in full.

Twice. Lila did something cool twice. At the beginning of the book (and this isn't a spoiler because it's literally on the second page) Lila orders a hit on a guy. Which guy? Dunno. Why? Who cares. It's cool, right? I guess. Hey, she's coming into her own as a mob princess. I was really hoping that she'd go even further throughout the book and show how scarily prepared for the job she is. I wanted to see a Lila ruthless because of the shit everyone's put her through, becoming more of a Magnificent Bastard than her father could have ever imagined. I wanted her to scare me.

Unfortunately, Lila is wasted in this book. She mostly just has angsty conversations with Cassel about their ~love, and shows him around her house. At the very end she . But by that time I had no fucks to give.

Black, you can't just tell us your character is super awesome and ruthless and then have her crying in the car and lips-crush-kissing Cassel most of the time. SHOW US her ruthlessness. SHOW US why she burns Cassel up or however you put it. As it stands, Lila was really just something for Cassel to emote at, which is why I couldn't feel anything for that relationship, which is why I couldn't root for them, which is why Cassel's constant whining annoyed me.

The other characters aren't really worth mentioning because they're really just the same as they were in the last book. The new additions were boring. Agent Jones was sorely, sorely lacking in a back story or something that might help us understand his character a little bit more considering what he ends up doing. I was really hoping for Cassel's mom to be more bad ass, but she also spends most of the book off-screen lounging around doing nothing. Considering Holly Black and her circle seem invested in showing everyone just how committed they are to feminism in their writing, I was expecting the female characters to shine a little bit more than they did in this book.

World Building:

Is the only thing that saved this book for me. That and the writing. But first, the world building. Well, there's nothing more to say, really. I think Holly Black has a world building tutorial out there and if there's anyone who should be teaching world building tutorials, it's Holly Black. Her world, teetering between magical realism and fantasy, is vivid, richly imagined and well thought-out. I like contemporary fantasies that ask the question, "But what if EVERYONE knew about this magic? What would society be like?" and then pull it off. It's brave, because it's so much easier to have your magical world be a ~secret from most people.


Very good. Another saving grace. Some clunkers that made me think that Holly Black was getting ahead of herself and indulging a little too much ("Lucifer Morningstar himself could learn a thing or two from the conviction with which Barron lies"...lol stop. A seventeen year old boy would not think that). But for the most part it's quick, well crafted and packs a punch. Even better (or worse?) if you imagine Jesse Eisenberg performing these lines - though if you have the audio book, you wouldn't have to settle for imagining it.

All in all, this book had too many plot/character problems for me to want to read again. But the world and the writing shows signs of a writer who's not afraid to try out an original premise and to put in the effort to make that premise work. The Curse Worker world truly does feel as though it could exist in some universe, and with proper execution, Cassel and his crazy crime family are mostly fun to read about. I just wish Black had reached a little bit higher when crafting his last story.

Profile Image for Max Lau • Maxxesbooktopia.
161 reviews8 followers
March 31, 2018
My thoughts: The Beginning

How do I even begin with this review? Alright. I have to chill or else my words would not make any sense to you guys. 3,2,1… Go.

Let us begin with this review by commenting on this beautiful trilogy’s covers. I, personally, enjoyed the cover changes to this trilogy although others might not agree because the original covers have a mysterious and secretive vibe to it that many of them thought that it was fantastic as the trilogy itself was baffling. I relished on these covers because of the little dots that make up a face and mind you, White Cat’s cover does look a little sexualize but that does not take away the quality of the covers. I appreciated the colour scheme and how the dots are formed into wordings of the book titles. Furthermore, the covers have a dream-like quality to it that will make you dream about a dream but you are not in the dream (hopefully you get what I was talking about). Therefore, I really loved the covers and I am giving a 100% to the beautiful cover makeovers.

Moving on, we have the pacing that I would like to address on which had been placed throughout the trilogy. For White Cat, I thought that the book was very well paced with many factors that were supposed to be information-overload but Holly Black somehow made it possible that the pacing was just gliding through the novel easily which I admired her for doing so because she just spared the pain of the readers’ with easy pacing. However, for Red Gloves, I found that the pacing was a little slower and it kind of lack a distinctive quality that White Cat had and due to its fall of lacking something its predecessor had, it slowed down. As for Black Heart, the pacing went back to normal- just like how White Cat always was. Hence, I enjoyed most of the pacing that was flowing through the trilogy.

Furthermore, I would like to address on addictive quality that this book had around it. Just like a drug, this trilogy had a quality so relentless and addictive that nothing beats this trilogy as long as the pages are still flying by. It will replace the endorphins in your brain with words that are so beautiful and quite mysterious that you just want to know what the heck is going to happen next in the book. Thus, I truly enjoyed how wonderful Holly had made to be this enjoyable.

Moving on, we have the world-building & politics that I would like to talk about in this review. For the first book in the trilogy, also known as White Cat, we see how the world works, what workers are and how it revolves around a universe so close to ours but somehow, very different and unique. The politics in the first book weren’t as exposed as the later books but it still had a good chunk of it at the end of the book. As for the second novel- Red Gloves, the politics had gotten even more exposed and the world expanded in many ways that would cause the readers no harm in exploring. For the last and final book- Black Heart, I felt that we fully understand how the world functions and how everything had been set up from the beginning and how the surface area of the politics had gotten even more exposed. Therefore, I enjoyed how wonderful everything was!

Moreover, we have the atmosphere that I would like to comment on for these novels. The atmosphere throughout these three books was mysterious, competitive and hard to guess. I liked the mysterious and competitive aspects of these novels because it caused a kind of clutch in my heart and made it pumped hard and inconsistent until these novels ended. Therefore, I enjoyed reading the atmosphere in these books! It definitely was a wonderful aspect of these blockbusters.

Diving deeper into the review, we have the predictability of the novels I would like to address on in this review. To be honest, I had figured some plot twists out myself in this novel but the severe plot twists were hidden pretty well and no clues were given to that little twist that made my head spun. Out of all of these books, I would say that all of them had plot twists that will make you hate, love, cry and etc. I definitely did enjoy the plot twists and I would love to hear if Holly Black is writing more books for this trilogy because of how wonderful it was! Therefore, it wasn’t as predictable as it seemed!

Some of you might ask if the story was well-constructed and if there are any plot holes… Well, here’s your answer:

Yes, this book is definitely well-constructed and you can clearly see that Mrs.Black did her homework and plot all of the plots nicely to review everything in order to cancel out the ugly plot holes. Thus, I really loved how this series wrapped itself up nicely.

Into the bargain, I would like to talk about the quotes that I have found to be both impressive and marvellous and I would hereby like to share with you guys a few quotes from this trilogy:

“Memory is slippery. It bends to our understanding of the world, twists to accommodate our prejudices. It is unreliable. Witnesses seldom remember the same things. They identify the wrong people. They give us the details of events that never happened. Memory is slippery, but my memories suddenly feel slipperier.”- White Cat, Holly Black.

“I wonder if he really could rationalize what I did to him, really treat betrayal like the slight transgression of a recalcitrant business partner. I wonder if I hurt him. If he can rationalize what I did to him, it’s easy to imagine how he rationalized what he did to me.”- Red Gloves, Holly Black.

“Girls like her, my grandfather once warned me, girls like her turn into women with eyes like bullet holes and mouths made of knives. They are always restless. They are always hungry. They are bad news. They will drink you down like a shot of whisky. Falling in love with them is like falling down a flight of stairs. What no one told me, with all those warnings, is that even after you’ve fallen, even after you know how painful it is, you’d still get in line to do it again.”– Black Heart, Holly Black.

Finally, we have the relationships between all of the characters section of this review! The relationships factor of these novels were filled with good things like Love, Hate, Fear, etc. I thought the first book handled it very well with all of its impudence and actions that were totally unforgettable. However, when we entered the second book in the trilogy which is Red Gloves, the relationship factor had overloaded itself with ammunition that it was a little bit hard to get through and it had also kind of taken away the main plot of the book which is never a good thing. Despite having the second book carried the weight of the relationship between the characters, the book was still enjoyable. As for the third and final novel in the trilogy, everything went back to the way it was with White Cat and I totally enjoyed that book. Therefore, I liked the relationships between the characters in this novel!

Now, let us get into the writing section of this review!

Writing: Middle section of this review

“He’s the kind of liar who totally forgets what he told you the last time, but he believes every single lie with such conviction that sometimes he can convince you of it.”- White Cat, Holly Black.

I enjoyed the style of writing that Holly had placed in this novel. The writing style was consistent, articulate and lyrical. The author’s writing style for this novel was the type which was easy to glide through while learning new vocabularies and how the system of the world works. Also, it had a unique quality to the writing style that had shown that she was a writer of her own kind and that quality is the dream-like condition which made the books so marvellous and so freaking easy to get through and additionally made the readers read all of the novels in one sitting.

Furthermore, I said the writing style was consistent because the characters acted like how they talked and everywhere in this three books, you will notice that all of the characters have the same personalities as the previous books and each of the characters had distinctive personalities that you would know which is which and who is who. Yes, it is that easy to identify them. Therefore, I liked how wonderful Holly Black managed to perform such artistic skills in these novels.

Finally, I enjoyed how every scene in this novel was pictured perfectly in my head. The scenes were written articulately that every single thing that happened will somehow be transported and diffused perfectly throughout your brain which was definitely an enjoyable factor I had with these books while reading each sentence to pluck the images to my brain. Hence, I fancied the prepossessing condition that this book had with its articulate-quality.

Now, let us get into the characters section of this review!

Characters: 4/5 section of this review

“The moment she was cursed, I lost her. Once it wears off- soon- she will be embarrassed to remember things that she said, things she did, things like this. No matter how solid she feels in my arms, she is made of smoke.”- Red Gloves, Holly Black.

Cassel: He was supposed to be an unreliable, not trustworthy and unlikable protagonist for this trilogy but those aspects of his character are the ones that I had been looking for in novels and I truly liked extremely mean and bad protagonist. Although he was unlikable, I thought he was pretty relatable because most of the things that Holly Black had thrown into his nature made it so that we know that he would receive salvation and redemption and as to that, he did. I loved his peculiar characteristics and how snarky he was everywhere in this trilogy. Thus, I fancied him as a character in this trilogy!

Lila: I found Lila to be a badass, crazy and had a sense of odd humour character. She was extremely likeable and I liked how strong she was and her last-line in the Red Glove book was extremely fantastic even though my ship between Cassel and Lila appeared to be dead. Still, I liked her craziness and at the worst time possible, she emerged to be the brightest star in the universe and her character development throughout the series was marvellous! It was spectacular as in from a little girl, she had transformed into an independent and strong young woman which I admired with much glory! Therefore, I loved her as a character in this novel!

Sam: He was a great character. Although I felt that he was a little pushed aside by the other characters, he still shone in the light as someone with a burst of different personalities and humane nature. As the books got deeper into their relationships with one another, Sam’s characterization got a boost and I, personally, thought that it was a great pushed to his character to get a development or rather- lots of developments. Therefore, I enjoyed reading him as a character in this blockbuster.

Daneca: Honestly, I found her to be a little annoying in the beginning but as the plot progressed on, she became a person with lots of shining personalities and she definitely had an important persona in these books because she led the HEX club which you will later know what that is about when you read the books and she had also made herself as a symbol for workers-rights! Therefore, I loved loved loved her as a character in this novel!

Overall: The Ending

I am giving this book trilogy a 97% rating. I wholeheartedly enjoyed this novel and I will be reading more books from Holly Black! And I would like all of you to give this book trilogy a try as it is not as hyped-up as I thought it would because it definitely deserves all the attention. So, we have reached the end of the review!

Curse Workers trilogy’s ratings on Goodreads:

White Cat: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Red Gloves: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
Black Heart: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This Review is also posted on Maxxesbooktopia!
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,165 followers
April 27, 2012
I like Holly Black and admire her immensely for creating the original and unique world of the Curse Workers, but I LOVE her for writing this series with wit, sarcasm, romance, and most importantly, for ending this book perfectly. Black Heart lived up to every one my ridiculously high expectations. Needless to say, very few books truly manage to do that - especially when it is the last book in a series. I finished Black Heart in a matter of hours and am left with a euphoric high, satisfied sigh, and unrelenting grin on my face.

Cassel Sharpe is in deeper trouble than he ever was before. Not only is he now working for the Federal Government, he is also working against Lila, the girl he loves. Furthermore, his mother is missing, his best friend is suffering from heartache, his principal is threatening to expel him, and his brother is unreliable as usual. Now, the Feds want Cassel to use his powers as a transformation worker to help them on a case, but Cassel is conflicted. He wants to be good, he wants to help the Feds, but at the same time, he doesn't. Black Heart is un-put-down-able, fast-paced, action-filled, and will leave you breathless. Through its multiple plot shifts, intriguing characters, and hidden secrets, it is essentially Cassel's tale of coming to terms with who he is, what he wants, and what it means to truly be free.

Holly Black's Curse Worker Series have always been primarily character driven, which is an aspect I have come to respect and love about her work. However, Black Heart completely blew me away. Cassel has always been an incredibly tangible and deep character to me, but he truly came alive in Black Heart. The type of tragedies and difficulties that Cassel has been through are horrible - I'm sure we can all agree on that - but they have not been easy to relate to. In Black Heart, Cassel is dealing with his inner emotions and conflicts over light and dark and what it truly means to be good or bad. That, I think, is a struggle we can almost all deal with and his relate-ability in this last novel really made me appreciate him more as a character and love him all the more as a person.

"But now I wonder - what if everyone is pretty much the same and it's just a thousand small choices that add up to the person you are? No good or evil, no black and white, no inner demons or angels whispering the right answers in our ears like it's some cosmic SAT test. Just us, hour by hour, minute by minute, day by day, making the best choices we can." (Black, 242)

Black's heart-felt characters are the primary reason why I love this series so much. Every single one of them - even the small side characters who appear for a few chapters and disappear - are so well fleshed-out and alive that it is impossible not to admire her talent. That being said, I should warn you now that Black also has the talent of writing a beautiful, believable, and heart-wrenching romance. I think we can all agree that the romance in the Curse Workers Series has been unique and one-of-a-kind. One of my biggest worries going into Black Heart was that it would be resolved in some horribly cliched manner, but thankfully, it wasn't. The resolution to Cassel and Lila's romance was perfect. It fit in with their characters, personalities, and the circumstances they had been through. I loved it and did my own happy dance quite a few times I can assure you. ;)

Overall, Black Heart was a phenomenal ending to an amazing series. It had everything in it - action, romance, well-written characters, family feuds, crime, and moving relationships. Personally, I want Black to start a sequel Curse Workers Series told from Barron's POV. I found his character to be perhaps the most mysterious and intriguing and I'd love to really get inside his mind and discover the inner workings of his dark personality. Yet, at the same time, I recognize that it is time for me to say good-bye to this world and patiently await the new novels that Holly has planned for the future. If you haven't already got your hands on Black Heart, rest assured that when you do, you will enjoy this read immensely and will have no qualms at all with this conclusion. However, if you haven't started the Curse Worker Series yet, I urge you to run to your nearest library or bookstore and check it out. I can assure you that you won't be disappointed - especially not by this terrific ending!
Profile Image for Eunice.
255 reviews527 followers
April 20, 2012
Call me bias or whatever but I gotta give my baby a 5-star! lol!

Oh boy, I gave this book a 5-star rating but it's like I don't have anything to say! Ha! -- the rating speaks it all! lol! Alright, alright. I'll try to say as much as I can...

First of all, I'd like to say that I found this series really wonderful and unique. The world-building was awesome, the characters were charming and fantastic, the twist and mysteries were impressive and clever - with those all I can say is that I loved every bit of it. I am a little sad to part ways with this series and I would definitely miss Cassel, Lila, Sam, Daneca and Barron! But I am also very satisfied and happy to see the conclusion of this story.

For some reason I feel like I've been with them for real and experienced too all those crazy things and stuffs and it was just relieving, you know, to see these characters, especially Cassel and Lila, to finally have things their way. Cassel's struggling with issues with his family, friends, love life and himself was poignant and I found myself repeatedly saying "Oh, Cassel" and I just wanna hug him. His voice was very endearing and it wouldn't help you but relate to him.

The love story definitely had me. It was sweet or rather I say, cute? lol! I don't know, I just love how it was wrapped up. It wasn't overly mushy and sappy but it was definitely swooning. It was great and I'm glad they can finally be together.

The ending was absolutely great. I love how Holly Black ended it in a way that was a bit open, she didn't pointedly tell who's bad and who's good and that leaves the reader to think which Cassel is. But what I guess, the story was telling was it's all about figuring oneself and making the right choices. It's not really whether you're bad or good but whether you're choosing the thing that would make it right for your self.

This is one of the series that will always remain in my heart. I highly recommend this series!

This review is also posted at Book Overdose
627 reviews5 followers
June 30, 2014
Gah! I can't believe I'm going to have to wait so long for this to be published!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1/20/12 Beep, beep. Back. Up. So there used to be an awesome cover of Cassel and Lila similar to the first two covers posted here and now they're showing the new and, in my opinion, not improved cover?!

If you can't tell, I hate it. It has touches of Art Deco but waaayyyy too much 70s in it for me. Not cool. I hope somewhere that other cover will be available 'cause that's the one I want.

2/10/14 (the 9 likes are for the above comments, not the review!)

In the final book of the Curse Workers trilogy, Cassel Sharpe has to figure out who’s trying to play him and who’s really on his side, as well as which side he’s really on. Which basically means choosing between his former girlfriend, Lila, the mob bosses daughter and heir apparent, and the feds.

Aside from Cassel and Daneca, I felt everyone else in this series was pretty much repulsive. Cassel’s mom could drop dead for all I care. She’s a failure as a mother and as a human being (though from everything I’ve seen in life, the bar’s not set too high for that one). Everyone in Cassel’s life tries to steer him towards a life of crime, with the exception of Daneca and I guess Sam, whose stupid actions annoyed me in this one. Zacharov’s a piece of shit who I really wanted to see get what he had coming to him. Even the government has their own agenda for Cassel, and they’re supposed to be the good guys.

And Lila. Ugh. Lila. My main problem with Cassel is his disgusting, undying devotion to her. I really liked her in the beginning of the series and wanted them to get together, but she signed on for what her family, what her father, does, which basically includes everything corrupt under the sun. She never tries to do anything else, never attempts to walk away from the life that had her living as a fucking cat for how many years. She freaking . Also, let’s not forget about her putting a hit out on someone at the start of the book. Compound all of that with the stupid thing she did to try to break her compulsion to Cassel in the last book and the way she’s been treating him, just everything, and what it boils down to is she was a good person who got dealt a shitty hand and when she got a second chance, instead of proving she’s smart and strong, did stupid shit and took the expected and easy way out by joining the family business and ignoring the fact that she has a fucking spine.

At the end, Cassel tells another character that there are no good guys, but he’s wrong. He’s a good guy. He always tried to help people, I even think he helped Mina, though neither of those choices may have been the worker equivalent of a winning lottery ticket, he gave her options when after what she did, I don’t think she deserved even that much. He tried joining what he thought was Team Good Guy but turned out to be Team Usual Dodgy Government Bullshit and found a different way to handle an impossible situation he was in against his will. I really, really love the conflicted yet awesome character Black’s created in Cassel Sharpe.

The one thing I didn’t like at all was what he did to . I know he believed that but that wasn’t Cassel’s choice to make and I’m pissed that he took it upon himself to do that.

I didn’t understand the point of the Mina storyline at all, except maybe to get a couple of people back together, who I didn’t really want together anyway, and to help Cassel out a bit concerning school. I thought this just took away from the real plot of the story and could’ve done without the distraction.

To an extent, Cassel reminds me of Ray Lilly from Harry Connolly’s stellar yet killed-too-soon Twenty Palaces series, mostly because while they do have powers and would like to come off as tough, they know they have weaknesses and they do goofy things intentionally or unintentionally, such as Cassel admitting to practicing a smile in the mirror. Like I said, they want to come off as dangerous, and actually are tougher than they think, but aren’t superhuman and do have, not necessarily flaws, but limitations.

While I liked this book and the series, I think Black and I have different ideas of what an HEA is. I don’t think coming to the conclusion that nobody’s good and is the stuff dreams are made of, mostly because I don’t see how any of it can end well.

It seemed odd because, while things were pretty neatly tied up, the ending was still rather open and at least one smaller storyline seemed like there might be more to it with more to come , while others were opened up with some discoveries made at the end.

I really like Holly Black’s writing and ideas and would love to read more about Cassel in the future, but I’d pretty much be hoping that most of the characters die at the beginning of that story. I have The Coldest Girl in Coldtown waiting in the wings and am interested to see what her other works are like because this is the only series I’ve read by her. Despite my problems with some of the characters, okay, hatred of, and my wish for a slightly different ending, I’d still highly recommend this unique series.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
December 10, 2020

That’s family for you. Can’t live with them, can’t murder them.
Cassel Sharpe comes from a family steeped in magic who've collectively turned to a life of crime.

After all, if all magic is illegal... what else is there to do?

After spending most of his life thinking that he was talentless, Cassel learns that he can transform anything into something else - one of the rarest powers.

Just knowing that he has that power is enough to make his life incredibly dangerous.

So out of the goodness of her hear, his mother used his brother (who has a memory-based power) to all knowledge of Cassel's powers from his own mind.

But, like most things in life, there are checks and balances. The brother who can wipe memories will lose one of his own as penitence.

And because his mother is a practical woman, she often would use Cassel in a get-rich scheme and wipe his memory - rinse and repeat.
At the end of a criminal’s life, it’s always the small mistake, the coincidence, the lark. The time we got too comfortable, the time we slipped up, the time someone aimed a little to the left.
However, that could not last forever and Cassel is finally free...or is he?
She wears trouble like a crown. If she ever falls in love, she’ll fall like a comet, burning the sky as she goes.
The love of his life - Lila - is the daughter of the local mob boss who just so happens to be holding his mother prisoner.

The Feds are knocking on Cassel's door demanding that he go straight.

With one brother dead, the other missing half his memory, Cassel Sharpe will have to rely on himself to figure out the right path.

But with so many strings tying him to so many things, he's going to have to make some cuts if he ever wants to get out, alive.
Some promises aren’t worth keeping.
Overall, I'm glad I found out the end...but it could have been a bit toned down.

Normally I'm such a fan of Holly Black...but this series just fell flat.

The romance between Lila and Cassel felt so one-sided.

I get that they were best friends when they were younger and that some of that friendship carried over to their teen lives (and there was that guilt about turning her into a cat for a few years...) but ultimately I never felt a spark.

And without the spark, I was left wondering why he is trying to hard to win back a girl who really doesn't seem to give two shakes about him.

And while I love the concept of this world, often the areas of interest weren't followed through and the duller aspects were.

I loved hearing about the variations of the powers (like the teen with the death touch!) but those were very minor aspects and unfortunately didn't pan out very well.

Overall - it was good. But not good enough for me to want to reread...

Audiobook Comments
Read by Jesse Eisenberg - and he really knocks this out of the park. Excellent narration through and through.

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Profile Image for Emma.
2,433 reviews828 followers
August 16, 2018
'What if everyone is pretty much the same and it’s just a thousand small choices that add up to the person you are? No good or evil, no black and white, no inner demons or angels whispering the right answers in our ears like it’s some cosmic SAT test. Just us, hour by hour, minute by minute, day by day, making the best choices we can. The thought is horrifying. If that’s true, then there’s no right choice. There’s just choice.'

This was so so good! I had no idea how Cassel was going to get out of trouble when between a rock and a hard place and the last 20% had me on the edge of my seat! This is such an excellent YA series by Holly Black- nothing like her other Fae stuff. This is about the Big Con and a great 'magic' system. The first in the series was surprisingly good and it's been consistent throughout. Strong recommendation for the series!
Profile Image for Stacia (the 2010 club).
1,045 reviews3,955 followers
April 11, 2012
I'm not sure if this book is needing me to break out the cigarette-after-sex pic, the way I felt it completely necessary after the end of the Georgina Kincaid series, but I'm going to say that Black Heart made me experience some of those same feelings.

Imagine me sending out vibes of love to Holly Black for not fubaring a great trilogy with an unsatisfying ending. My favorite series endings are ones in which you get enough closure without everything being wrapped up into a neat little package. The reading audience needs to be left with at least a little bit hanging, so we can retreat inside of our heads for a moment and imagine what could possibly happen next. Ms. Black nailed the ending perfectly for the Curseworkers series.

At least I don't need to stand on my soapbox anymore to get the word out about the Curseworkers. By now, I've managed to find several other fans to converse with about these books. Fans of dark, snarky, or offbeat UF such as Anna Dressed in Blood or Hold Me Closer, Necromancer might find this trilogy to their liking. IT'S A FLIPPING MAFIA FAMILY who can work curses with the touch of an ungloved hand. What's not to be intrigued about?

I'm not even in the mood to go into a summary of the book. There was snark, there was crime, etc. etc. I won't spoil the Lila & Cassel story. However, I did have one spoiler that I wanted to talk about which upset me :

Jace's (from Mortal Instruments) alternate-world cameos were even less noticeable this time. He walked into a public room and did some sort of work on a laptop. That's about it.

This might be one of the least informative reviews I've written in a while but I'm okay with that. I'm a fan of this trilogy. I like that it's not a female-driven story, nor does it have a female lead. There aren't many YA Urban Fantasy books being sold these days which aren't heavy handed when it comes to overdoing it with sappy love. Thankfully, there are at least a few rare gems out there like this amidst a sea of pnr clones.
Profile Image for Regina.
625 reviews390 followers
July 11, 2012
I hate to say I was pushed into reading this series, but well, you know who you are – and you know you do some pushing. Thank you for the push.

This is more of a review of this series. So this series is a unique, but a growing subset, in the young adult paranormal genre. The uniqueness being female authored with a male protagonist as the hero and a dark dark world. The lead in each of these books is the same teenaged boy - -Cass. I would compare it to Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride, or Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. There seems to be a desire on the part of the paranormal reading crowd to read about male protagonists, so these books are definitely finding their niche readers.

Cass was born into a crime family, not a powerful one but the world in this series is divided into two parts: those with magical abilities and those without. People fear those with magical powers and due to unfair legislation, fear of people without magic, internments and round ups those with magical abilities are segregated in lifestyle from those without powers. Everyone wears gloves. All the time. Why? The abilities people have (just one – the magic workers have just one power each) are not fun and nor are the powers nice but instead, the powers are such that kill, powers to alter memories, powers to make people feel things that they would not feel on their own and the power to transform someone from one object into another. But in order to work their curse, the magic workers need to use their bare fingers and touch bare skin on their target - - thus the gloves that everyone (even non magical workers) wear at all times.

I have trouble with stories and series where people with powers can just do whatever they want with no cost. Holly Black created a world where magic exists but it isn’t easy. Everytime a magic worker puts a curse on someone there is a “blow back”. Memory workers lose parts of their own memories. Emotion workers suffer through emotional ups and downs. Death workers have parts of their bodies die off … and on and on …

There is an undercurrent of politics driven by fear throughout the series. It is not overwhelming and the politics do not dominate the plot. A question that I kept thinking is – shouldn’t the non magical people be afraid? What is a fair solution to protect the non magical people but not overly limit the ability of the magical people to live their lives? I am not sure there is a solution and Holly Black shows that tension of what it would be like to live with real threats like death workers and memory workers.

So Curse Workers has some recycled cliché young adult themes: hero doesn’t know the extent of his powers, family is really out there, boarding school, boy kills off his girlfriend there is lots of blood, painful memories …. screeeeeeech …okay maybe that is not an overused cliché.

What I think Holly Black did really well is set up this story in a very familiar setting but then took it somewhere most young adult books do not go. There is sex, there is drinking, there is death and sociopathic behavior and the ending of the series is not storybook at all. So the ending is anti-everything we want for our kids or our parents dream about for us but you know what? It is perfect for this series and I loved that Holly Black ended it the way she did.

Now I listened to this series in audio, despite also owning it in ebook. I think I should have read it. The narration was done well, I guess ... but it didn’t grab me. I need to say thought, that the narration does not detract or take away from the story at all. Despite that, I would suggest reading this series. I recommend this book to people who enjoy darker urban fantasy stories and who are okay with a slow build in the beginning of a story.

To read more about this and other reviews check out www.badassbookreviews.com
Profile Image for Melanchallina.
195 reviews110 followers
April 6, 2017
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Великолепное завершение потрясающей серии.

Без ложных прикрас должна признаться что «Наводящие порчу» одна из самых любимых у меня серий. Мне нравится мир, идея и боже, я влюблена в героев серии. Холли Блэй написала замечательную серию, полностью передав атмосферу.

Я не очень люблю читать книги от лица парней, на это меня много причин, но «Наводящие порчу»? Определенно ДАААА! Холли Блэк сделала то, что не удается многим авторам-женщинам: она не превратила героя в тряпку, размазню. Она сохранила его индивидуальность, юмор, характер.

«Черное сердце» продолжает историю Касселя и его воровской семейки. В этой книги больше романтики, чем в предыдущих двух. Но это нисколько не портит впечатление, даже наоборот. Приключения и романтика умело переплелись и создали новую картину. В данной книги одна из лучших романтических линий, вот серьезно. Она ненавязчивая, не приторная, но при этом проникает в самое сердце. Это искреннее чувство, которое главные герои сохранили с самого детства. Здесь нет бабников, нет шлюх или постоянного выноса мозга героями друг другу. Да есть проблемы, но они невероятно адекватно описаны.

Вообще, главное достоинство серии – реалистичность, не смотря на мистику, криминал и магию. Проблема книг, конечно видоизменена для того фантастического мира, в котором живет Кассель, но они вполне уместны в нашем мире. Вопросы дискриминации, поисков своего места в мире, дружбы семьи. Но все преподнесено забавно, легко и дико интересно. События не стоят на месте, нет ни одного момента, чтобы в голове проскользнула мысль «скучно».

И конечно, плюс книг сами герои.
Кассель. Он определенно входит в топ моих любимых героев. К тому же – это нетипичный герой для книг. Он не положительный мальчик, но и не преступник до мозга костей. Он просто парень, который изо всех сил старается быть хорошим. Он растет на протяжении всей серии, от книги к книге. Мне нравится Лила, дочь криминального босса, которой суждено занять его место. Девушка которая столько пережила и при этом не сгнила и сохранила свои чувства. Она умная, сильная и очаровательная. Эти персонажи буквально заставили меня таять.

Моя оценка: 10/10
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,557 reviews259 followers
March 19, 2016
The Feds are willing to forgive Cassel's past crimes if he'll leave his family behind and go straight - and work for them, of course. They want him to get rid of a powerful man who is spiraling out of control. What separates the bad guys from the good guys if they want him to use his ability to hurt people. Now all of that puts Cassel on the wrong side of the law from Lila, the girl he loves, the daughter of a mob boss who can probably never love him back anyway given their history. That alone would be bad enough, if her father wasn't holding his mother hostage until she returns the priceless diamond she took from him years ago - now she just needs to remember what she did with it.

Black Heart by Holly Black was the perfect conclusion to The Curse Workers series. Although it isn't the most fast moving story, I was still fully invested in every moment. I couldn't get enough, and honestly, I wouldn't say no to more adventures with these characters. Each member of the cast has their own moment to shine. Cassel is such a fascinating character to follow. He's definitely a bad guy, but he's still good - which does actually make sense. I'm so pleased with the ending - it offers just the right amount of closure with just a bit of open-endedness. Overall, I highly recommend this series, especially if you're a fan of The Sopranos, Memento, Inception, gritty noir, and urban fantasy.
Profile Image for Mizuki.
2,971 reviews1,179 followers
June 15, 2015
I think it's more of a 3.5 stars book? The story is alright, the world building is nice and the criminals and cops actually act realistically for me to respect them. I still find the MC's obsession with the daughter of the crime boss very annoying but I can at least live with it.

The Chinese version of this book translates the book title into '黑暗之心', I can't say it's wrong translation, but I think it would be more fitting to translate it into '黑心肝', but it's just my opinion.

What I really like about the ending is .
Profile Image for Zoraida.
Author 35 books4,007 followers
October 9, 2019
So unbelievably good. My new favorite trilogy.
Profile Image for Cecilia.
Author 1 book337 followers
April 14, 2023
Desde que empecé este libro me cautivó, ya había disfrutado los dos libros anteriores pero este es por lejos mi favorito. 

Parte rápido y con una alta dosis de intriga que te atrapan completamente en la lectura. Y es que es genial como han ido cambiando los personajes a lo largo de la trilogía y el momento en el que se encuentran ahora los tiene envueltos en más de un misterio por resolver.

Un libro con suspenso, humor, plot twists de infarto, romance, intriga, conspiraciones, engaños, secretos, amistad, relaciones familiares complicadas, personajes grises complicados (de los que se van a enamorar) y muchas revelaciones hacia el final del libro que les explotarán la cabeza.

Un cierre con broche de oro para esta trilogía de fantasía urbana juvenil que les recomiendo totalmente leer!!

Aquí algunas de mis frases destacadas:

"El amor nos cambia, pero nosotros también cambiamos nuestra forma de amar"

"Supongo que todos somos listos para unas cosas y tontos para otras"

"no hay decisión correcta. Tan solo opciones"

"Tú eres lo que quiero. Lo que siempre he querido."

Bonus: queda un secreto al descubierto dando botes al final y un elemento perdido que nuestro protagonista no terminó de buscar, y pese a que la trama principal queda más o menos resuelta, esas dos cosas que quedan sin resolver me crean la esperanza de que algún día la autora retome algo de esta historia. Ojalá lo haga porque estoy enamorada del universo y los personajes que creó aquí y hay muchos de los que me gustaría saber más!

Cassel te amo!
Profile Image for Lost Planet Airman.
1,249 reviews71 followers
September 23, 2018
White Cat and Red Glove seemed to fit really well together, and be tightly-knit stories. I didn't feel quite the same way about this third excursion. It did wrap up storylines into a decent trilogy, but it had a looser feel to it, and somewhat, to my mind, anticlimactically. Ah, well.
Profile Image for Sabrina Ye.
328 reviews220 followers
July 21, 2017
DNF at 34%

I'm done with this book.Not that it's really bad or something,I guess this book(and the trilogy)just not for me,and I've lost my patience and interest to them.Probably will finish this book some other day,but I highly doubt that.(*sigh*)

Profile Image for Sarah.
281 reviews55 followers
February 25, 2021
That awkward moment when the last book of the series is the best one.... Wait, that never happens! Black Heart is the exception to that rule.

The Curse Worker series has been like that activity I sometimes participate in and have a lot of fun doing, but forget that I enjoy after a while. Now it’s proven itself to be more than that.

Cassel, oh my dear Cassel. He’s really in his element here, with the sass turned up to max and his skills really show.

After all, Yulikova thinks Barron has a real future with the Bureau. She told me so. I told her that sociopaths are relentlessly charming.
I think she figured I was joking.

The guy is a con artist, so naturally he’s the master of manipulation but he has some really genuine moments in this book. Cassel is not a main character you often see in YA, who walks the fine line between good and evil and doesn’t angst over where he ends up.
The secondary characters are a little dull to me and I wish they had more personality, so that’s what kept me from being completely engaged in the story.

The world-building is simple, but Black uses every detail to her advantage and makes the story imaginative and much richer than before. The plot of the series - complete with mobs and assassinations isn’t the type of story I would normally go for but Black captured my interest and held it.

Black Heart is a very satisfying conclusion that makes me interested in Holly Black’s other work. She seems to have a thing for the slightly dark and funny stories with unique concepts. I’m ready for more.

“She wears trouble like a crown. If she ever falls in love, she’ll fall like a comet, burning the sky as she goes.”
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