Reviewed April 25, 2012.
Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York, 2012. 296 pages.
Ah! Holly Black has done a magnificent job tying up her trilogy! I was reading this book while waiting for an appointment with a neurology specialist. I had quite a bit to go, but I read straight to the end. Then I looked up. Oh no! It was an hour after my appointment time! Had I been so absorbed in the book, I hadn't heard them call my name? That definitely could have happened, because I certainly hadn't noticed the time pass. No, it turned out that this particular doctor was known for spending all the time with patients that they needed (and he did this for me, too).
I don't want to say much about the plot, because I might accidentally give away things that happened in the earlier books. And yes, this is definitely a trilogy you want to read in order. It's an alternate world where people can curse you by touching you. Curse Workers come in many different kinds, like luck workers or memory workers. Even death workers and transformation workers. But there's always some kind of blowback that affects the curseworker himself.
Cursing people is illegal -- so families where many are born with the ability end up as crime families. The girl Barron loves is the presumptive heir to one of the biggest crime families. So it's still an issue for Barron which side of the law he should be on. And meanwhile, a governor who was cursed by Barron's mother is trying to institute mandatory testing and make it illegal even to be able to curse someone.
These books all have some kind of clever caper that culminates all the threads of the book. Must. Say. No. More. Since they are clever, and since Holly Black manages to surprise you each time, these books definitely make great rereading as well. One thing I particularly liked is that she made me like the second book better by the way she had things go in the third book.
This is a brilliant series. I will try to listen to books two and three in audio form to get to enjoy them again. (I've already both read and listened to the first book.)
So how's that for a review that says almost nothing about the actual book? But I don't want to give anything away from the first books! So I'll leave you with a paragraph from Black Heart:
Plenty of people get conned because they don't know any better. They're just gullible. But lots of people are suspicious at the start of a con. Maybe the initial investment is small enough that they can afford to lose it. Maybe they're bored. Maybe they're hopeful. But you'd be surprised how many people start a con knowing there's a good chance they're being conned. All the signals are there. They just keep ignoring them. Because they want to believe in the possibility of something. And so, even though they know better, they just let it happen.