Book Review: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Posted January 22, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 3 Comments

Book Review: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep
Genres: Urban Fantasy, YA
Published by Kensington Books on October 27, 2015
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: the library

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Also by this author: Killer Frost, Black Widow, The Spider's Trap, Bitter Bite, Unraveled, "Nice Guys Bite", Bright Blaze of Magic, Snared, Kill the Queen, "Winter's Web", Last Strand, Sharpest Sting, "Unwanted"

Second in the Black Bade YA urban fantasy series and revolving around Lila Merriweather Sterling, hiding in plain sight. This begins a few weeks after Cold Burn of Magic, 1.

My Take

The Families are like the Mob with each having their particular territory and changing alliances that could result in death at any time.

In some ways, Black Blade is cartoonish in how incredibly evil the bad guys are. I’m surprised someone hasn’t taken Blake out for his mouth, at the least.

That said, there are a number of secrets about the past that come out, from Mo’s past dating history to family Lila never knew about. Deah and Felix are continuing their imitation of Romeo and Juliet, although their romance appears to be unraveling, now that Felix’s past history is coming out. There’s also a prophecy in this…which only makes sense when it’s over. Ain’t that always the way? Then there’s Deah’s secret at the end. Oh, boy. I was hoping for it, but I didn’t expect it. At all. And Estep is gonna make us wait ’til Bright Blaze of Magic to find out how Victor reacts to it!?

I enjoyed how Estep brought in references to her Bigtime and Elemental Assassin series. I also enjoyed how supportive Devon is of Lila competing in the tournament. Yep, he really is a nice guy. I like most of the other characters as well. They’re all supportive, in their own ways *eye roll*…I’m thinkin’ of Claudia here. I liked meeting Seleste as well, although I do have to wonder about all that skipping about. What’s with that?

It is annoying that Lila keeps refusing Devon. Yeah, her reasons are believable, but she doth protest so much that it drove me mad.

From the build-up in this story, I’m wondering if this is to be a trilogy with the next in the series, Bright Blaze of Magic, the concluding story.

The Story

Tree trolls are moving down from the mountain and raising havoc in town. And Lila, Devon, and Felix discover why, but not who. Nor are they the only unexplained deaths.

More danger, as far as Lila is concerned, is being chosen to compete in the Tournament of Blades, where she can’t escape the spotlight — or the danger. She’s been careful to stay in the shadows, but participating puts her under Victor’s eye.

It’s an eye Lila has already seen into, into a discovery that this vicious monster is plotting against Devon and her friends, adding to the danger for Cloudburst Falls. A town Lila has every intention of leaving.

The Characters

The bacon-craving Lila Merriweather has been coopted into the Family as Devon’s bodyguard. For the past four years, she’s lived in hiding, surviving as a thief, using her soulsight Talent to see into people, at what makes them tick. She also has a transference Talent which allows her to take on the Talent of anyone with whom she comes in contact. And, yeah, she is definitely a YA character with a need for a different kind of maturity. Serena Sterling was Lila’s mother, a woman with many, many secrets. She was murdered four years ago. Luke Silver, her father and the Draconi bruiser before Lila was born, had been sent on a suicide mission.

The Sinclairs are…
…one of the top two Families in Cloudburst. And, yes, they’re the good guys. Devon Sinclair is the heir to the house, the Family bruiser, and a truly nice, considerate guy; he’ll be using his father’s sword in the tournament. He’s also in love with a reluctant Lila. He would never use his little-known compulsion Talent on her. Felix Morales is his best friend with a Talent for healing and in love with Deah Draconi. He usually works with his father, Angelo Morales.

Claudia Sinclair is Devon’s mother and the head of the Family. Lawrence was Devon’s murdered father. Mo Kaminsky has been Lila’s fence for years and runs a pawn shop, the Razzle Dazzle. Now he’s the Sinclair Family broker, taking the traitorous Grant Sanderson‘s place after events in Cold Burn of Magic. Seems Mo is hiding other secrets as well. Reginald is the Family butler.

Oscar is the little redneck pixie who takes care of Lila. He’s a hoot from his cowboy boots to his honey beer on down to his trashy trailer. Vance Groves is a jerk of a guard who hates Lila. Henry is another guard who will participate.

The Draconis are…
…the greatest enemies of the Sinclairs, and naturally, the other top Family. Deah Draconi is the desperate daughter of the house with a Talent for mimicking others. Victor is her vicious, nasty father. Blake is his son, the Draconi Family bruiser with a strength Talent, and the boy who helped his father commit murder. Seleste Draconi, Deah and Blake’s mother, has a Talent for seeing the future.

The Volkov Family is…
…the third most powerful group. Katia Volkov is Carl‘s daughter; they are based in New York, near Bigtime (one of Estep’s series). Nikolai Volkov is the head of the Family here in Cloudburst Falls.

The Ito Family is…
…led by Hiroshi Ito. Poppy is his daughter and is training to take over as the Family broker. She and Lila are becoming friends.

Other Families include the…
Salazars with Julio Salazar one of the participants in the Tournament of Blades.

Cloudburst Falls is “the most magical place in America” due to the monsters attracted to the lure of the bloodiron, a magical metal. A bruiser is the second-in-command, responsible for defense. Magic has three categories: strength, speed, and senses such as sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. A black blade is made from bloodiron and absorbs any blood with which it comes into contact: the more blood, the blacker the blade. The monsters include trolls, copper crushers, and the loch ness.

“Sometimes, humans were more monstrous than anything else.”

The Cover and Title

The cover is black with its silhouette of the gravestones spanning the cover and the trees framing the sides while a ready Lila stands with her black blade, ready for battle against a vibrant red-orange sky.

The title is what Lila finds, the Dark Heart of Magic that could threaten everyone.

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3 responses to “Book Review: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep

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