May 17, 2020

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...

I dived right back into Jennifer Estep's Black Blade trilogy by picking up Dark Heart of Magic and I had virtually no memory of the first book since I read it as an ARC over five years ago. Luckily, it seems getting back into the thick of things with this one was relatively easy. The characters discuss enough of the main parts of the first book that I felt like I knew enough!

Lila is still a new member of the Sinclair Family in Cloudburst Falls, a town in West Virginia, if memory serves. She acts as the Family's bruiser or bodyguard if you will to Devon, the Family leader's son. There's a great deal of romantic tension between these two, but Lila continues to fight the feelings she has for him, and due to her own magical powers of seeing into a person's soul (so to speak) she knows how he feels about her too. Life has reached a sort of calm before the storm for them, and that storm is coming closer and is called the Tournament of Blades.

The tournament is one where all the magical families come together and they have their best of the best compete until there's only one champion left. This year Lila was chosen to compete for the Sinclair family with a handful of others too.

Lila isn't too sure how she feels about this game, for she never really felt like part of the Family. It was more a job for her. She mainly wants to stick around town long enough to find the evidence that proves Victor Draconi is the one that killed her mother years ago, and basically bring him down. But he's the leader of the most powerful family in town, so it's going to take a lot of digging or a stroke of luck for that to happen.

In the meantime, Lila has the tournament to focus on. That, and the fact that someone is murdering magical creatures around town. The murders are vicious and brutal. The only clue Lila has to the murderer is hearing an evil laugh when she looks into the victim's eyes, for she can see what they saw in their last moments.

I was really surprised by how easy it was to get back into this series! I was afraid of my memory loss holding me back and while there was some of that early confusion I had in the beginning, but once the story started rolling, I found myself just immersed in this world once again! This is basically Young Adult Urban Fantasy and I was loving it! Real world meets paranormal people and problems! It was amazing! I forgot how easy-going Lila was, well, easy-going in terms of kickass heroines! She's a feisty girl and I loved her sense of humor and snark! Her love for bacon didn't hurt either! Gotta love when a heroine has her favorite food be totally unhealthy! Though, there was no mention of how quickly she can burn through those calories, because man, that girl eats a lot of bacon! Lol.

The pacing to this one was relatively fast! I pretty much binge read this sucker in two days! I wanted to read more last night, but was too tired, but once I picked it up again the next day, I just kept reading and reading and after I passed my goal mark, I kept reading more because I was deeply curious as to how things were going to end! 

The romantic tension between Lila and Devon continues to remain thick and intense. You start to feel a little bad for Lila because she literally can see/know how much Devon cares for her. Yet, she can't bring herself to feel things for anyone since her end goal is to leave town as soon as she avenges her mother's death.

The bodies keep turning up during the tournament though it's not until midway through the event that the murders hit closer to home. This made for an intense mystery and all the while we see things slowly building in the background that lays the groundwork for the final book.

The ending to this one was filled with all the shocks! There was the answer to the mystery, a startling reveal about Lila, and of course the shocking reveal of what Victor has planned! Needless to say I am super glad that I have the final book at the ready!

Dark Heart of Magic was an exciting read filled with an array of surprises! I literally could not put this one down! If you're looking for that nice introduction to the wonderful world of paranormal, then the Black Blade trilogy would be a good place to start! I highly recommend this series!

Overall Rating 4.5/5 stars

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