Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Review: White Cat by Holly Black

Book: White Cat (The Curse Workers #1)
By: Holly Black
Published: May 4, 2010
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry books

Description: 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 criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn't got magic, 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.

Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself 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. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

My Thoughts: I started off this story with low hopes of actually enjoying it. The synopsis just didn't speak to me, the cover didn't either. So when I started listening to the audiobook format I got from the library, I didn't even expect to get completely through it. I can't explain why I didn't think I would like it, only that I thought that way. Then, as I got further and further into the story I had such low hopes for, my feelings began to change. It was almost like the book itself was a "worker" making me fall in love with it despite all my former feelings

The story follows Cassel, a non-curse worker in a family of strong curse workers. He's an outsider, not quite woven into the thread of his family since he's not a worker. Curse workers are people who, with a touch of their bare hands, have the power to change things about you like your emotions, memories, and even a person or object's physicality, though the latter isn't at all common. We learn that Cassel is an outsider in everything. Growing up with a worker family makes him unlike other normal people, so he spends his time trying to make himself seem normal, despite still being a con the way his family taught him. He cant help doing things in illegal ways because that's all he knows. Then, when he finds himself on the top of a building, teetering over the edge without any memory as to how he got there, he begins to ask questions. Why can't he remember a lot of the things that have happened to him, why is he having all these strange dreams, why has this white cat been following him around, and why on earth did he kill his best friend three years ago. We find out the answers to all these questions and more in what becomes a twisted story of power, greed, and familial interaction. Cassel's life is more screwed up than we know and we find out all about it.

I loved the murder mystery feel of this book. I also like the shady nature of our MC and the fact that the story wasn't just a backup to some sappy love story. The story sticks to the facts. Of course there are romantic feelings interspersed in the novel, but they took a backseat to the greater story, and only occurred when Cassel was feeling particularly attracted to a woman (as most guys do). I also liked the mob boss feel about the worker families. The way everything was underhanded and the twists and turns this book had in it definitely had me gripping my seat until the very last page.

There wasn't much I didn't like about the book. I was a bit confused at the end from how some of the things were concluded but it wasn't any really big deal. Also, the beginning section following the roof scene wasn't all that interesting but did provide a thorough background to the novel.

Holly Black put a lot of thought into this story and created a world that was magical, dangerous, and intoxicating. I will definitely be reading the next story, Red Glove. I give it 4 stars.


Sue Bursztynski said...

Yes, I liked it very much, though I haven't read the sequel. I, too, have my feelings about "sappy love stores" and nice to read the occasional book from a male viewpoint.

Kat C @ Books and Sensibility said...

I have pretty much the same story about this audio. I really loved it ! I have to say my favorite is the second one. They each have their own stories while still connecting the plots.

Lan said...

I felt the same way you did when I started reading this book. I wish the library hadn't needed it back. Am def going to pick it up again now.

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