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November 16, 2015

A Shot of YA: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Series: Black Blade 2
Format: eGalley
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Kensington
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult | Urban Fantasy

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 know reviews for Jennifer Estep's DARK HEART OF MAGIC have been popular on your blog feed. So I'm going to do a different take on this review and hopefully I'll be able to share something new about Black Blade in case you haven't read the series just yet.

Black Blade Series 101
  • JEstep's fantasy series under Kensington is a young adult, urban fantasy story. Though not necesessarily the same as her adult UF series, Elemental Assassin, it does have similarities in terms of feel and character strengths. It's not necessarily in the same universe but you should know that JEstep has made references to Gin Blanco's world to establish that it's linked. I guess it's safe to say that EA & Black Blade are adjacent worlds (?).

  • Unlike other YA series, Black Blade is not rife with romantic tension and drama. It feels very normal in that these teens are infatuated with another character, but the romance isn't a driver nor is it an all-consumming passion where the heroine will DIE if she doesn't end up with the hero *insert eye roll*. On that note, thanks for that, JEstep *winks*

  • Black Blade's magic reference to enhanced skills, or Talents, like strength, speed, sight, etc. There are also monsters like trolls, Nessie, and other mythical creatures like pixies, that are present. They're not villainous, rather they're an attraction as Cloudburst Falls is infamous for their monster population which drives the town's tourism. 

  • There's a mob feel when it comes to the Families. The Sinclairs and Draconis remind me of the Capulets and Montagues not to mention the forbidden relationship their children are in. Victor Draconi is a deadly and ruthless rival, murdering people so he can take their Talents. If he coupled up with Mab Monroe, I think they can conquer the world together. The Draconis are on the offense and though the Sinclairs have been successful in parrying his attacks, I'd like to see them drive the conflict and showcase their family more. 

  • Lila Merriweather is the heroine. She's a thief who vowed to kill Victor Draconi for murdering her parents. She's now affiliated with the Sinclairs, but DARK HEART OF MAGIC presented a surprising twist that definitely made Lila's revenge plot and the whole Family Feuding more complicated. I look forward to learning more sercrets. 

  • Aside from the fantastic world building, JEstep is a master at creating captivating and vivid characters. I love all of them including the villains! The Draconis in particular are giving me Malfoy (Harry Potter) vibes. 

DARK HEART OF MAGIC simply put is a fantastic sequel and obviously didn't suffer from second-book/filler syndrome. The Tournament of Blades was a fun event and the stage in which a lot of jaw dropping revelations were made. Lila Merriweather's character is shaping up nicely and she's fast becoming a worth adversary to Victor Draconi, and a strong ally to the Sinclairs. I have a feeling she's more than what we pegged her to be. It goes without saying that I look forward to book 3, Lila is leading a high-stakes heist and from the teaser in DARK HEART OF MAGIC, it's bound to be nerve wracking! Write faster JEstep!












Talk Supe


49 comments:

  1. Oh yes I really enjoyed this one as well and I'm so curious to see how book 3 will be!

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    1. I read the preview, darn it! I'm already wracked with nerves!

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  2. I can not get over it looking like she is stabbing herself

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    1. I swear, your imagination is something else!

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    2. I'm enjoying this series but yeah the covers are a little cheesy. LOL

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  3. I can't wait to get to book three. I really enjoyed this one too.

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    1. Hi5 Melanie! This author has yet to disappoint me

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  4. I loved that you referenced both Shakespeare and Harry Potter in one review! ;) I've been thinking of trying Estep with this series since I'm not so far behind in it. But I *do* really want to read EA. *sigh* Decisions, decisions... :D

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    1. Hmm, if you want to try her, you can start with this. Only 2 books so less anxiety and pressure catching up. Although I heard EA's audio versions are kick ass!

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  5. OOh Braine, great review and I love the different twist you gave because yes I have seen this all over. Thanks. I love Jenn's adult Gin novels but I'm not really a fan of YA or NA because of the tendencies they have of being dramathons. What about this, would a girl like me enjoy?
    xo

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    1. Oi, make an exception of this one. Lila is like a teen Gin so I'm sure you'll love it! I don't read much YA either, but this series totally won me over

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  6. So ready to read this one! I really enjoyed the first book, so I'm anxious to get back into the story. Great review!

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    1. Yes, you will not be disappointed. In fact, it'll make you super anxious for the third book!

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  7. I loved this one too. I enjoyed the first one but I felt this one kicked it up a notch ;)

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    1. Most definitely. Can't wait to see what she has in store for us in book 3!

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  8. I haven't read this series, but your 101 put it under my radar! Thanks, Braine!

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    1. I hope I was convincing enough for you to read it.

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  9. I have never read anything by jennifer Estep. I've even met her at a convention but haven't read anything....O_O

    Bad blogger!

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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    1. Are you serious?! You have to remedy that, you're missing out on great urban fantasy tales!

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  10. It's always nice when the second book is as good or better than the first. Happy reading.
    sherry @ fundinmental

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  11. Monster tourism? That is so cool! I haven't read any of Jennifer Estep's books, but this sounds like a good series for me to start with.

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  12. I'm so glad you are loving this series too, it really is so much fun!

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    1. Ooh, I hope they get away with the heist scot free!

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  13. I am enjoying this series as well. It is without the frills and fuss and the drama as far as the romance goes like you mentioned. I love the setting. Can't wait for more.

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    1. I can't stand teen romance anymore so I'm so glad this series isn't driven by juvenile love relationships.

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  14. Woot! Glad you enjoyed this one :D Oh man, him + Mab would be BADDDD!

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    1. Right?! What a scary but awesome possibility! Too bad the books aren't under the same publisher so I don't think a crossover is going to happen

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  15. I am getting amped to read this series. I'm so glad the second book isn't just filler.

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  16. I've got these on the list. Enjoyed your change-up with the review. Refreshing!

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    1. I try. Inspiration struck so I thought I'd go with it. Hehehe, glad to see you appreciated it

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  17. In the end, it's all we could ask for, isn't it? To have a second book that doesn't feel like a filler.

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    1. Yup. I quit a lot of series because of filler installments. Got too many books to settle for the weak ones

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  18. I like the set up of this review. Sounds like a good series - I'll have to try and check it out. I do want to read more urban fantasy.

    -Lauren
    www.letsgetbeyondtolerance.blogspot.com

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    1. I hope you get around to this, it's really worth your time and dime

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  19. I do enjoy her books but I'm behind on her other series. I do like that she tends to link her worlds but it's interesting that this is a bit different but still somehow linked. Once I catch up on her other series I'll definitely add this to my list!

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    1. You will not be disappointed with Lila if you love Gin!

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  20. *groans* I still haven't read any Estep books, Braine... and my kindle is bursting with books to read as it is :(
    I'm glad you loved Dark Heart of Magic, and I so want to read this series myself!
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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    1. You can't go wrong with any of her series, it's all good! This is easier to get caught up with since there's just two books out versus the multiple releases in the others.

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  21. Oh I have been wanting to read this series! I love the cover and they just sound so good! Great review!

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    1. Thanks, Teresa! I know you love YA, I'm sure this will get high marks from you too!

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  22. Wow, everyone's loving this one!!! I just may need to check it out, though obviously this series isn't one I would normally read. I've been branching outside of my little cocoon of contemporary and I'm loving finding so many new genres that really work for me! :)

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  23. So glad to hear you loved this one and it was still interesting in the 2nd book! The world building, great characters and the revenge plot sound fascinating!

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  24. Thanks for the great twist on your review, Braine!! I really enjoyed book one - so fun, and my first Estep read. I can't wait to get into book two and the Tournament of Blades :)

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  25. I read first book and liked it, but I wasn't sure about this one. Now, after reading your review I think I need to give it a try.

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  26. I really should read this one soon, I loved the first book in the series and have been exciting to get back to this series. I agree with what you said about the romance, I like how it isn't all encompassing and takes over the plot, but it's still a great romance. I am really curious about that twist surrounding Lila. I am really happy to hear this one doesn't suffer from second book syndrome! Great review!

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  27. The world building and Lila as the main character make this one sound really good

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