What You Need To Know: Cassel and his fascinating world of magic and crime return, in this strong second volume of The Curse Workers.
Summary: After discovering his gift, and how his brothers misused it, Cassel has more problems then ever. Mom's out of jail, working her own game, and the girl he adores has been cursed to love him -- which sucks. But when Cassel's brother turns up dead, and the feds want his help, he'll have to run the greatest con of all to make it out alive.
What works: Cassel Sharp is awesome, and Black nails his voice. An honorable guy in a deeply dishonorable world, he's far from perfect. Cassel is tempted, and makes mistakes just like any high school age guy would. What makes Cassel awesome is that he uses his brains and skills to get himself out of trouble, and Black avoids the "magic fixes EVERYTHING" problem that fantasy writers can fall into.
Although the central mystery at the core of this book is slightly less compelling than the first Curse Workers volume, Black manages to keep the suspense high, and work in a few surprises along the way. As always, the world building is expertly done, showing instead of telling, and all in service to the story.
What Didn't: To me, the political subplot felt trite and overdone. Yes, its good for a zinger in the end, and Black does her best to work it into the central mystery, but all in all, I could have lived without it.
Who would I give this book to: I think that this series would be a great choice for kids who grew up on Harry Potter, but are ready to move on to darker fare. Guys who like the paranormal, but are iffy about romance would like it too.