I received this book for free from The Fantastic Flying Book Club in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Black Blade #2
Published by K-Teen on October 27, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Young Adult
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Something Wicked This Way Comes . . .
As a thief, I stick to the shadows as much as possible. But when the head of the Sinclair Family picks me to compete in the Tournament of Blades, there’s no escaping the spotlight–or the danger.
Even though he’s my competition, Devon Sinclair thinks I have the best shot at winning what’s supposed to be a friendly contest. But when the competitors start having mysterious “accidents,” it looks like someone will do anything to win–no matter who they hurt.
As if I didn’t have enough to worry about, mobster Victor Draconi is plotting against Devon and the rest of my friends, and someone’s going around Cloudburst Falls murdering monsters. One thing’s for sure. Sometimes, humans can be more monstrous than anything else…
When I read and reviewed the first book in Jennifer Estep’s Black Blade YA urban fantasy series, Cold Burn of Magic, I was blown away and just could not wait until book 2, Dark Heart of Magic, came out. I just needed to know how Lila was faring now that she’s joined the magical mafia, not to mention which way the chemistry between her and mob prince Devon Sinclair would go and the sinister plots the Sinclairs’ rival family, the Draconis, were hatching.
Fortunately for bookworm marshmallow test failures like me, I didn’t have too long to wait. The first book came out in late April, and the second book is out today.
As I’d had a few months to think about it (not to mention re-read Cold Burn of Magic a time or two), I decided that the life-changing upheavals in the first book necessitated that the second book start out with a “settling in” period, so I wasn’t surprised that this was exactly what happened. What did surprise me was that the plot revolved around a tournament where scions of the various magical families would compete in a test of physical and magical endurance, skill, and power. Kind of Triwizard Cup, but I figured it was a tried and true plot device, particularly for YA sci-fi and fantasy novels, so I was interested in seeing how this would work out.
Pretty well, as it turns out; while the tournament itself isn’t out of the ordinary for tourneys of this type, it does one very important thing: paces well with the outside story line. And speaking of plots, Estep does a good job of juggling multiple balls in the air (without giving away too much, there’s a star-crossed lovers subplot, a murder mystery subplot, a budding romance subplot, the obvious tournament subplot, and the overarching political/conspiracy plot that joins the books in this series). Plus, while this book is definitely part of a series and best read after Cold Burn, I feel like I would still have given it close to the same rating had it been the first Black Blade book I read, which speaks to Estep’s skill at making the world and characters come alive, even without much of the back story. It also reveals more about the series baddies, the Draconis, than I felt was in the first book, so I give the author full points for that.
The only main sore point for me was how easily I solved the mystery in the novel. I won’t give away the answer to “whodunnit,” but it wasn’t hard to guess. Although given that this is a YA book, I suppose I oughtn’t be too surprised, as I haven’t had a YA mystery, well, mystify me in a while. So if you like knowing who the baddie is before the characters do, you’ll score high on smug factor points with this book.
Is Dark Heart of Magic as action-packed or angst-filled as the first book in the series? Maybe not. But it’s definitely a lot of fun and a solid four-star read—I honestly would’ve scored it a five had I had a harder time guessing who the villain was. And I still can’t wait to find out what happens in Book 3, Bright Blaze of Magic, set for release in April 2016!
Feel Factor Rating:
Series Reading Order
Get the chance to win one of three print copies of Dark Heart of Magic (US only) or a a $10 Amazon gift card (INT).