Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Black Blade, #2
Released: October 27th 2015
Length: 368 pages
Source: Publisher for review
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...
The Black Blade series started out as Elemental Assassin lite, a young adult version of the series Jennifer Estep is first known for. I liked it well enough at the time, but saw it merely as a reprise of sorts, a nice way to pass the time, but a book I could have easily done without. The same does not apply to the sequel. With Dark Heath of Magic, Jennifer Estep truly stepped up her game and gave us a book that stands out.
We reunite with Lila only days after she’s become Devon Sinclair’s personal bodyguard. Their world is still as violent as ever, with threats from other magical families always looming over their heads. But even with an outright war brewing, traditions need to be upheld, and one of those traditions is the Tournament of Blades. Lila is naturally one of the contestants, and so is Devon, and they work together more closely than ever to discover the various conspiracies and traps set by other participants.
I distinctly remember feeling ambivalent about the lack of romance in the first book. I had no such problems here – the romance is understated, yes, but wonderful nevertheless. Devon’s steady, dependable presence and Lila’s reactions to him hit all the right notes for me. Even when they fight against each other, they do it as a team, which is very difficult to achieve, but so beautiful to behold.
My only true objection is aimed at the predictability of this book. I don't like feeling that much smarter than the characters and I intensely dislike feeling frustrated while waiting for them to catch up. Lila was painfully slow in this book, always failing to see what was right in front of her. To make matters worse, the villain was glaringly obvious the second he/she showed up, which made it impossible not to feel bothered by the blindness of our heroine. If you can put that aside, however, Dark Heart of Magic is an exciting, emotionally charged book that outshines its predecessor by far. I have very high hopes for Bright Blaze of Magic and I absolutely trust Jennifer Estep to deliver a fabulous read.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.