A good thing is that Jennifer Estep does is to sink the readers in with ease. (Of course, I had to reread just the first chapter to make sure I slip into the world correctly. I felt that there was a lack of information, when it is really just me not reading the first book.) From the way the words are put together, the world building (and the book itself) expects readers to have read the previous book. You might want to read the first book, so you won't make a boo-boo like me. Anyway, the world building is kind of familiar to Jennifer Estep's other series, MYTHOS ACADEMY.
Mob, magic, rivalry, high school-ish setting, kids with powers. Pretty similar.
Lila is a strong narrator. She reminds me very much of Gwen Frost from the other series. Her talent is similar too (but not quite). For a moment, I thought I was thrown back into MYTHOS ACADEMY. Just without the gods, the evil god, the drama... Oh, wait. There is still drama (but just not as much as the frosty series).
The storyline is easy to get and understand (despite not reading the first book). Of course, the beginning is developed (and I once again remind everyone that there's a first book). The story spins wildly, and I'm drawn into the action. The tournament plot is familiar, especially to those who love Harry Potter's fourth book.
The ending is particularly satisfying, and I get upset that Jennifer Estep decided to end it there! It isn't fair. It so isn't fair. But I won't go forward until... Oh, you all get the point.
Overall, DARK HEART OF MAGIC could had been an amazing first book. But it isn't. (Alright, I'll stop reminding you all that it is the second book.) With an awesome main character, a straight-up-and-evil villain, and a "will they, won't they" subplot, DARK HEART OF MAGIC is definitely for fans of MYTHOS ACADEMY.
Rating: Three out of Five