Black Heart: Curse Workers, Book 3

Common Sense Media says

Entertaining but predictable final installment.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Encourages kids to ask questions rather than simply accept what they're told. Politicians and leaders aren't always honest, so it's up to each person to have his or her own beliefs and understanding of what constitutes good and bad. 

Positive messages

Sometimes it's difficult to know right from wrong, but as long as you follow your gut instinct, you won't be lead astray. Also, embrace diversity, and don't fault people for their innate, inalterable characteristics. 

Positive role models

Cassel is a 17-year-old boy who consistently helps those in need. Although he has a criminal past, he bends over backward to have a morally upstanding future. Cassel always places the people he loves before himself. He's a loyal and kind person with an honest conscience.  

Violence

Mention of murders that have taken place. Two people get shot, and one person dies. One of the shooting scenes includes of detailed bloodshed and description of the bullet being removed. 

Sex

Black Heart only has one sex scene, but it includes graphic details of a teen couple kissing and caressing each other. Clothes are removed, and the reader is informed that the couple has intercourse.

 

Language

"Badass," "bulls--t," and "f--kupitude" are each used once. 

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Teen boys drink to get drunk and forget their problems, but they pay for it with a painful hangover. There's a reference to meth, but no one in the book is using. A major character chain-smokes cigarettes. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Black Heart is less violent than its predecessors in the Curse Workers trilogy, White Cat and Red Glove. Two people in this final installment get shot; one dies. A shooting scene includes gory details, but readers are told ahead of time that the injury isn't serious. Violence, when it happens, is reactionary or accidental rather than premeditated, making the small scuffles easier to stomach than in the prior installments. Teen boys drink alcohol and get drunk, then have a terrible hangover. A teen couple has sex.

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What's the story?

Seventeen-year-old Cassel Sharpe comes from a family of curse workers (people capable of magic who have the ability to con anyone with just one touch of their hand). Curse workers can make others lose their memories, fall in love, die, or, in Cassel's case, transform into any other object. The federal government offers Cassel a bargain for immunity from all of his past crimes if he agrees to work for them (the \"good\" guys). The offer seems pretty good, considering that Cassel's corrupt brothers had conned him into murdering people, then erased all memory of his criminal offenses. While Cassel is torn between protecting his family and the girl he loves, he learns that sometimes working for the \"good\" guys is no different from working for the \"bad\" ones.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

BLACK HEART, the final installment in the CURSE WORKERS trilogy, doesn't offer much surpise or suspense, unlike the first two books, which left readers hanging on every word. The major characters, initially complex and impulsive, are a little dull and predictable in the finale. True, they've grown into more confident, self-aware young adults than they were in their younger years, but they lack the enjoyable witty banter and playful language that originally pulled readers in.

But Black Heart is an entertaining book nonetheless, and fans will enjoy its small details: descriptions of mob mansions, fancy clothes, and extravagant cars. Fans will also be happy with the ending and appeased by the one small shocker that Black has in store.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether Black Heart is a satisfying conclusion to the Curse Workers triology. How do you think this book compares to the previous two installments? 

  • Do you notice any differences between the violence that takes place in Black Heart and that in the other books?

  • Talk about authority figures' abuse of power. Who in Black Heart is the villian? Or are there multiple villians?

  • How does the book depict teen drinking? Are the consequences realistic?

Book details

Author:Holly Black
Genre:Fantasy
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Brothers and sisters, Friendship
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Margaret K. McElderry
Publication date:April 3, 2012
Number of pages:304
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 17

This review of Black Heart: Curse Workers, Book 3 was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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