I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Black Heart: Book Three of the Curse Workers Trilogy by Holly Black

Holly Black, author of the Spiderwyck Chronicles as well as many excellent young adult novels, finishes the Curse Workers Trilogy and I am quite sad to see it end, even though I was really satisfied with how it ended.  It seems every time I read one of her books I want her more books about those characters.  I do not want to let them, or the world they live in, go.

This book opens with everything a complete mess.  Cassell's mom is wanted by the authorities for working Patton, the Governor of New Jersey into supporting the workers and not passing anti-worker legislation.  She is uncovered by his staff and suddenly becomes a bit unhinged and is now possibly pushing to send workers back to camps like they did decades ago.  His mother also stole the head of the Russian crime family, Zachorav's Resurrection Stone, which is said to have been worn by Rasputin and protects the wearer from harm.  She did this years ago and replaced it with a copy, but when she got out of prison and went on the lam, she needed the cash, so she (through an intermediary) tried to sell it back to him.  He figures out it was her and is holding her captive in his penthouse until Cassell can find the stone. 

Daneca and Sam are still not speaking to each other.  It is really complex as only teen romances can be.  Sam was mad at Daneca for not revealing she was a worker and then Daneca got mad at him for not speaking to her about it.  Then she tells him she is seeing another guy and Cassell feels he must do something to bring his two friends back together. 

Cassell is also approached by a mysterious girl at school, Mina, who says she is being blackmailed by someone who stole her camera that had pictures of her nude on it.  Cassell can tell she is lying all over the place, but he doesn't know exactly what she is lying about and what her angle is, because he knows she has one. 

Cassell's brother, Barron, is enjoying working for the Feds, as he is finding ways to scam them. The Feds, with whom Cassell still has not signed up to work for, have him learning to follow someone and learn things that, quite frankly, both learned at an early stage in life.  He chooses Lila to follow, the girl he cannot get over, even though she hates him.  Its interesting that Lila is the one person who truly understands him in a way that even he does not understand himself. 

Soon the Feds have an assignment for Cassell, even though he does not work for them.  He is not sure if they are trying to set him up or not.  He just wants to be a good person and do the right thing.  That's why he chose to make a deal with the Feds and join them after high school.  He thinks they are the good guys.  But what if they are no better than grifters in his family or those in the mobs, who all want to use him for his curse work power?

Cassell is walking on a thin line and any moment he could fall and destroy his life, or worse yet, someone he cares about.  Cassell has come a long way by the time this book ends.  Life is complicated and it's not always easy to see which path to take, especially when you have trouble separating the lies from the truth.  In this last book, Cassell finds his own moral compass and figures out, at least for now, which road to take.  What the future holds for him, I would love to find out, so Holly Black, please keep writing.

Mine.  The language of love is that, possessive.  That should be the first warning that it’s not going to encourage anyone’s betterment.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 4)
That’s the problem with temptation. It’s so damn tempting.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 6)
Cassel, she said, you want to know how to be the most charming guy anyone’s ever met?  Remind them of their favorite person.  Everyone’s favorite person is their own damn self.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 10)
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 whiskey. Falling in love with them is like falling down a flight of stairs.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 18)
She’s right, of course.  I’m not a good person.  The funny thing about good people—people like Daneca—is that they really honestly don’t get the impulse toward evil.  They have an incredibly hard time reconciling with the idea that a person who makes them smile can still be capable of terrible things.  Which is why, although she’s accusing me of being a murderer, she seems more annoyed than actually worried about getting murdered.  Daneca seems to persist in a belief that if I could just listen and understand how bad my bad choices are, I’d stop making them.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 32)

My family are lunatics who set a high bar for lunacy.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 78)
When we fall that first time, we’re not really in love with the girl.  We’re in love with being in love.  We’ve got no idea what she’s really about—or what she’s capable of.  We’re in love with our idea of her and of who we become around her.  We’re idiots.
--Holly Black (Black Hearts p 82)
Love changes us, but we change how we love too.
--Holly Black (Black Hearts p 82)
 Whatever else I’m shaky on, I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to con the people you love.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 86)
“You looked at porn with my grandfather?”
“It wasn’t porn!  Your grandmother was one of the ladies.”
Of course she was.
“The costumes were amazing,” he says dreamily. “Feathers and masks and sets like you wouldn’t believe.  Crescent moon thrones and a massive rose with petals that swung like doors.”
“You were looking at the sets?”  Now I’m laughing for real.
“I didn’t want to stare at the women.  I wasn’t sure which ones were your relatives!  And your grandfather was right there!”
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 118)
The problem with cell phones is that you can’t slam them down into a cradle when you hang up.  Your only option is to throw them, and if you do, they just skitter across the floor and crack their case.  It’s not satisfying at all.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 122)
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.  I’ve heard Grandad’s war stories a thousand times.  How they finally got Mo.  How Mandy almost got away.  How Charlie fell.  Birth to grave, we know it’ll be us one day.  Our tragedy is that we forget it might be someone else first.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 223)
I thought grifters and con men were just born bad.  I thought there was some inner flaw in us.  Something corrupt that meant that we’d never be like other people—that the best we could do was ape them.  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 just choice. 
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 242)
Simple lies are always better than a complicated truth.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 259)
A girl like that, Grandad said, perfumes herself with ozone and metal filings.  She wears trouble like a crown.  If she ever falls in love, she’ll fall like a comet, burning the sky as she goes.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 267)
Do you know what the Turkish say about coffee? It should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 278)
Maybe I should regret that, but I can’t.  Sometimes you do the bad thing and hope for the good result.
--Holly Black (Black Heart p 282)
Link to Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Black-Heart-Curse-Workers-Book-ebook/dp/B0055OIE2C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499189500&sr=8-1&keywords=black+heart+holly+black

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