Monday, April 25, 2011

"White Cat" (Curseworkers, #1) by Holly Black

"Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago. Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen."-goodreads

I know that Holly Black has come out with a bunch of YA stuff other than the Curseworkers series, but White Cat is the first I've read. I didn't even realize she was coming out with any YA stuff for quite a while. I'm very glad I did find out. I love Holly Black's writing, and I've loved it ever since I was 7 or 8 and picked up her "The Spiderwick Chronicles" series, which I adored. Ate it up. I read all of them, over and over, in VERY short periods of time. I figured, after loving those so much, I'd have to adore her newer stuff. I did!

The crime family of 'workers' situation, a little bit like that of Heist Society by Ally Carter was very cool. The theme of complicated family situations throughout the book was great. The universe where everyone's a worker, or they're not, and that it's wrong, but it's not against the law-- that whole concept was really great. It was so out of the ordinary, yet Mrs. Black managed to make it feel like real life. The whole book felt really real, so real that it's probably an account of something actually happening. That's how real her writing is.


White Cat took a lot of complicated, surprising, sometimes very confusing twists and turns. I really enjoyed all of them as they were almost all VERY surprising, but they confused me at times. Big changes happened in very little time with little explanation sometimes. At first, I didn't like this at all but THEN I really liked it, because it felt very real, and felt very much like I was seeing everything the way Cassel was. He was confused. He didn't expect these things. He wasn't a worker. He didn't know what his family was doing... all of it just illustrated how he didn't know what he was doing, it just all lead back to a gritty real-ness of the whole book. 

Going along with the theme of real-ness, the characters were really complex and believable as well. I really liked Cassel and Lila and pretty much everyone. Barron was a tragic and interesting case. The cat was an interesting character, but I kind of already said that... didn't I? If you read the book you know what I'm talking about. If not, you'll find out.


I loved that it was complicated crime families. I loved that it was modern magic-- no faeries, no wands, no bunnies flying out of hats. A very believable fantasy, where magic is cursing and it effects people-- whether the person doing it knows it- or not. I really enjoyed White Cat and if you enjoyed Black's earlier books or Heist Society and anything else along those lines you'll like it too.

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