Saturday, 14 November 2015

Review: Dark Heart Of Magic

Standards are always ludicrously high when it comes to sequel, especially a long awaited one. I fell in love with Jennifer Estep's new Black Blade trilogy from the first page of Cold Burn of Magic. The story had everything I wanted and more. So of course, I was counting the days until the sequel– Dark Heart of Magic– could be gifted to the world. Now I've read it, enjoyed it, and all I can think is: I want more. Don't get me wrong, everything that I loved was in here: The great characters, the secrets and reveals, the romance, the growth, and the action, but there was one element that I wanted more of, which I'll get to later. Overall, however, I would definitely recommend that if you haven't picked up Cold Burn of Magic, do so now so you can enjoy all the thrills and excitement of Dark Heart of Magic.

Love the simple colouring, which automatically draws the eye to the shadows.


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 of 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 …
The strength of this particular book was the character development. Not only did Lila grow exponentially and impressively, we were given a little more background into the life of Deah Draconi, who played a surprising role which I definitely didn't see coming even with the subtle hints I picked up. She's a great character, and I'll be happy to see what kind of role she'll play in the next book. The history between the Sinclair's and Draconi's was intriguing and felt like a modern day Shakespeare plot. I really enjoyed the secrets revealed for both sides, and wonder if there will be any more.

Another element of the story that I really liked was the role the monsters played. It was unique, well thought out, and more than a little terrifying to think about. The discoveries of the monsters led most of the action scenes, which weren't at the forefront this time. I found that a little surprising, since Estep's work is very action heavy, and one of my favourite traits from her as an author. I'll never deny that I've drawn mountains of inspiration from her Elemental Assassin series, and I have to admit that I was hoping for more obstacles in the Tournament of Blades. Sure, the sabotage was significant, but I couldn't help but feel it was too tame, even for a YA book. Maybe that's personal preference, and maybe the title gives it away, but a series of duels doesn't really impress me that much. I like creative, over-the-top, seemingly-impossible dangers for my beloved heroine's to overcome. That being said, the final battle was great, even if I did kind of anticipate who the villain was going to be. The use of new powers was really impressive, and kept me on the edge of my seat.

Lila gained great momentum to her character, the secrets about her family's past and her present-day connection to it helping to establish a more mature, strong character. But don't worry, Lila is still very much a teenager– full of attitude, recklessness, and arrogance, yet loyal, reliable, and rooted in her morals no matter what she says.

The romance between Lila and Devon was also worth the read. Lila has massive trust issues, and the lengths that Devon went to go through them with her was nothing more than astounding and endearing. As Lila often points out, it's impossible not to fall for the guy, because he's just himself. Handsome, charming, strong, and overwhelmingly loyal.

As I said earlier, learning more about Deah was something I didn't expect and truly enjoyed, and it also helped the development of another favourite of mine, Felix. I was glad that the villains got a little more spotlight (because I'm weird that way), though I don't find Blake Draconi that threatening. Maybe it's because Lila kicked his ass in the last book, or maybe it's because he seems like all bark and no bite. I just find him annoying. Victor Draconi on the other hand... Now he's a different story. I dread his inevitable confrontation with Lila. Actually, I totally want to see what happens.

Though as a fangirl and lover of all things Estep, I found Dark Heart of Magic to be a little lacking in what I love about her fiction. But that doesn't mean that I didn't love every word of her new story, and that I wouldn't recommend it to everyone I know. Lila is a fantastic character, the world is expertly built and beautifully descriptive, and it's just all around fun. A must-have for all urban fantasy and YA lovers.


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