Jennifer Estep doesn’t disappoint with the second novel in her Black Blade series, Dark Heart of Magic. In this installment, danger lurks around every corner, and Lila doesn’t know who she can trust (admittedly, she’s already a pretty paranoid person due to her prior occupation of thief). Tons of action, a little more of Lila’s history revealed, and a couple of blossoming young romances make Dark Heart of Magic a cut above the rest.
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…
Let me start by saying that I just adore Lila. She’s strong, plucky, independent AND she’s a fantastic thief. In Dark Heart of Magic, a lot of new information comes Lila’s way, giving her quite a bit to think about. She’s working towards her life goal of ending Victor Draconi, the man that ruthlessly murdered her mother, but that is a long game requiring patience. In the meantime, Lila’s forced to face the fact that she doesn’t really know much about her parents. A few hypothetical bombs (of the informational sort) are dropped, leaving Lila with more questions than answers.
Like any other teenage girl, Lila is dealing with the emotions wrought by growing up. Unfortunately, Lila does this without the guidance of either parent. A little lost, Lila is navigating the world without much direction. She’s also faced with so many feelings about her bodyguarding charge, Devon. Devon freely admits his feelings, but it’s hard for a girl that has lost everything to give away her heart.
The supporting cast of Felix, Devon’s best friend and a healer-in-training, Devon, and Deah, Victor’s (ahem!) delightful daughter, are entertaining and only add to the mystery. The group of misfits are the next generation of Cloudburst Falls’ mobster/Family makeup. The Romeo & Juliet routine that Felix and Devon have going on is sure to result in disaster. I really like them, so I hope they are able to overcome the inevitable fallout. Speaking of fallout, I easily figured out the shady tournament participant. The great thing about Jennifer Estep’s writing is that it didn’t matter one bit. The lead up was still strong, the reveal impactful, and the conclusion very sweet.
Dark Heart of Magic is yet another fantastic book by Jennifer Estep. While maintaining it’s own uniqueness, this series is a young adult version of the Elemental Assassin series. I can totally picture Lila as a young Gin. That said, I can’t wait to find out more about Lila’s history (and all of the connections of the Family leaders to her parents) and her quest to avenge her mother’s death. Dark Heart of Magic is a solid continuation of what is sure to be a truly amazing series.