In an ideal world, Holly Black and I would be arch-nemeses. We would battle in the skies over Tokyo for complete Color Surname Dominance. (I would also take touring with her as an alternative to battle: We could call it the Black, White, and Read All Over tour! MAKE IT HAPPEN, UNIVERSE. )
Although, alas, our world is far from ideal, it does have a few perfect gems in it, and one of those gems is Black’s brilliant “Curse Workers” series. Over Thanksgiving, my sisters and I were reading (it borders on a competitive sport with us), and one was about to start “Black Heart,” the last book in the trilogy. “What happened in the first two?” she asked. “I can’t remember.”
We spent the next 10 minutes trading, “Oh, and also THIS!” “Oh my gosh, and also THIS!” “Oh oh oh, don’t forget about THIS!” Because the thing is, while “Black Heart” was one of my favorite books of 2012, the series stands—both the individual books and the trilogy—as some of the most perfectly crafted YA in existence. I have never found a series that more authors discuss with a desperate sort of longing, wishing they had thought of it first.
We couldn’t have, of course. Ms Black is inimitable. But the combination of noir and magic, crime families and cons, government control and paranoia, boarding school and femmes fatale, and dastardly-but-somehow-still-attractively-irredeemable older brothers and the absolute best morally ambiguous main character I have ever read, culminated in a perfect third book.
As you read it, you’ll think, “It’s impossible. There is no way for this to resolve itself. Cassel can’t do it.” Ah, but he has more than Worker’s abilities to help him—he has all the genius of Black’s twisted story mind behind him. It’s a wondrous thing to read, and a book (and series) I plan to revisit many, many times.