Book Review: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep
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.
Cloudburst Falls, Tree Trolls, Oscar, and Tiny
Well, that was completely enjoyable! It was so good to be back into the world Jennifer Estep has created with Black Blade series. Book two, Dark Heart of Magic, deposits the reader back into the wonderful world of Cloudburst Falls, West Virginia where mortals and magicks mix in "the most magical place in America" a town where "fairy tales are real". And yes, the Tree Trolls make an appearance, this time, it's blood persimmons that are being pummeled at the nearby tourist. Two of my favorite secondary characters were back for some page time as well, which made me very happy (I'm looking at you Oscar and Tiny).
Now, with book two, Lila is faced with new challenges. She's picked to represent the Sinclair Clan in the Tournament of Blades (a competition between clan families where they battle it out on the field using their 'talents'), solves a recent bizarre rash of murders in Cloudburst Falls, and uncover the mobster Victor Draconi's dark plotting. Add to that some romantic ups and downs, a few surprise twist and you get the idea of it.
The Tournament of Blades
Some great action takes place during the Tournament of Blades where we get to see not only magicks used (talents) by the opponents but we also get to see what makes the characters tick-their strengths and weaknesses. Readers are treated to some great battles with a few surprises in store for Lila.
Mafia Plots, Murder, and Magicks
Along with the Tournament of Blades, Lila goes undercover to try and discover what's behind the gruesome murders occurring-these are no accidents. Beware reader. I was expecting the accidents mentioned in the summary but it's a darker, murder mystery! Our Lila is still determined to seek revenge against Victor Draconi, using her burglar-like abilities as a thief, to spy on him in hopes of discovering clues about her mother's murder. Between these two threads, I was flipping the pages as foreshadowing and clues sprinkled the pages.
Intriguing New Characters
There're a few new characters introduced, two that really move the story mystery along. Without spoiling, I'll just say that both involve reveals that kept the intensity level up throughout the story.
Devon and Lila's Romance
Devon and Lila's romance continues to grow in Dark Heart of Magic. Thankfully there are no love triangles, just two teens who adore each other trying to figure it all out. Devon is such a great guy in this story and fans are going to be holding-their-breath in hopes that Lila realizes this and opens herself to trusting him. Sigh ... Very sweet!
In the End
Dark Heart of Magic had everything I had hoped for and was a complete success as far as secondary storylines go. Of course, I'm going to immediately jump into the last installment, Bright Blaze of Magic!
A favorite Scene
Oscar fussed over me, pulling the sheets and comforter all the way up to my chin. Then he flew over to his trailer, rustled around inside, and came back out with a pixie sword. It was no bigger than a needle, but a dull stain on the end told me that it had been dipped in poison, probably copper crusher venom. Poison was often the only way pixies could survive against larger mortals, magicks, and monsters.
Oscar fluttered back over and landed on my nightstand. “Don’t you worry about a thing, cupcake. I’m going to keep watch tonight. Ain’t nobody getting to you the way they did to Vance. Tiny will stand watch too, won’t you, Tiny?”
Over in his corral, the tortoise let out a low, huffing noise that sounded like a yes, his black eyes strangely bright in his green face.
Oscar saluted me with his sword, then started marching back and forth on my nightstand, moving from one side to the other with quick, precise movements, like a soldier standing guard.
The idea of him watching over me was comforting, and I fell asleep with the steady clack-clack-clack of his cowboy boots ringing in my ears.