White Cat (Curse Workers #1)
By Holly Black
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Date Published: May 4, 2010
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.It's been a long time since a book has truly gripped and surprised me at every turn. But White Cat did exactly this; with the exception of its beginning (which was a bit on the slow side), it was far from bland or predictable. Black spins a suspenseful, intriguing tale in a world where con men intermingle with magic, much to the fear and disdain of the general public.
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.
I was happy that I could connect with Cassel, the narrator/main character. It's rare to find a male narrator in the young adult genre today, and Cassel ends up being a good one. A guy's perspective on things is refreshing in a sea of female voices like those in Twilight, The Hunger Games, The Gemma Doyle trilogy. He was intelligent, sarcastic, and not entirely dependable (which makes sense later on) and I felt like I could really invest in his character. The secondary characters are all great too and all contribute important elements to the story.
What this book's success really rides on (for me anyway) is its plot, and the innovative world it has been set in. I really like the dark setting she crafted, where everyone wears gloves in order to protect themselves from the bare touch of curse workers, the scourge of society, who have abilities ranging from changing emotion to manipulating luck. Black has this ability to build up the suspense and keep you guessing. I admit that reading this late at night was a bad idea because I found myself terrified and shuddering more than a few times. Who could have seen that ending coming? I sure didn't.
For me, White Cat was more captivating than Black's earlier Tithe trilogy. It's hard to go in depth about this one or I'd be giving away important plot points, so I won't. But just know that reading White Cat is a lot like riding a roller coaster you've never been on before, where you don't know when or where the track curves or plunges downward. I'm looking forward to Red Glove, the second in the series, which is coming out in a few weeks, lucky me!