Book: White Cat by Holly Black
Release Date: May 4, 2010
Genre: Young Adult
Series: Curse Workers, #1
Free or Purchased: Purchased
Rating: (4 Zombies)
Cassel isn't the most likable of characters at the beginning of the book and the present tense writing is slightly jarring to begin with, but stick with it, everything gets better! You'll get used to the present tense, and Cassel definitely grows on you. I loved the surprising twists towards the end, and can't wait for the next book to explain the semi-cliffhanger. I was like :o That exact expression!
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.
Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love -- or death -- and your dreams might be more real than your memories.
Cassel Sharpe is a conman who murdered his best friend and doesn't even remember it. He hates himself, and, as a result of his not-so-legal upbringing, has learned to hold everyone at arms length. Yeah, Cassel's got his faults, but he's a good kid underneath the betting pools, cons, etc.
Our adorably insecure criminal hero finds himself on "medical leave" from school, with nothing to do but worry and feel guilty about everything that's ever gone wrong. But this doesn't stop him from rescuing both friends and enemies alike from the big, bad wolf of curse working.
You see, Cassel lives in an alternate reality, where everyone has to were gloves to keep from being cursed. If someone approaches you with bare hands, you run for your life, for fear that they'll give you bad luck or kill you with a touch. That's just how it is in a world of curse workers, though.
I had high expectations for this book, with all the hype about it, and it mostly lived up. Like I mentioned earlier, the present tense was pretty shocking at first, but after I had been reading for a little bit I hardly noticed it. It just seemed kind of weird after reading almost exclusively past tense for as long as I can remember. The only present tense books that I can recall at the moment are the Anna Strong series. I digress. The point is, it didn't bother me much after the first chapter or two.
Cassel is one of the most obviously unreliable narrators that I've ever read and liked, and I must say, he pulls it off quite well. He doesn't like Daneca because she's a minor-league political and environmental activist, not because she could become a friend; he killed Lila because he's an innately bad person; relationships are purely negotiations, not something that you become emotionally mired in. It's sad, really.
The book isn't just a Cassel pity fest, though--stick with it, and you'll get your fill of action and disgustingly Adrian Phoenix-esque random shifting of form. It's an awesome book, but not for everyone, and if you're a fan of modern day Charles Dickens-type books, then be sure to pick up White Cat and Black's Modern Faerie Tales series, which is even more awesome.
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