Monday, 17 May 2010

White Cat 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. 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."
I've read a couple of Holly Black's other books and liked them, but this one I loved! It's the first in a new series 'The Curse Workers'. Workers can change things with the brush of a fingertip, so as a precaution, everyone wears gloves. Cassel grew up in a family of workers and wanted to be one himself, badly, instead he's just a magic free conman. He spends his time trying to make others forget where he comes from, make them think he's 'normal'. All that shatters when he awakes on the edge of his dorm roof having been sleepwalking. Forced out of his boarding school temporarily, he has to go back home to his family. But once there be begins to realise his sleep walking isn't the strangest thing going on.
The action starts on page one and the pace never really slows down. I had a really tough job putting the book down. The story is all about Cassel trying to move forward, by unraveling the past, so we get a several short, snappy flashback type scenes where a little bit more is seen or explained, that work very well. I love Cassel. He's cocky, smart and a little arrogant, but his 'voice' is easy to read and it's easy to see where he's coming from. There are no big info dumps to drag the story down, we're told what we need to know, when we need it and without interrupting the story. There are some great twists, not least of all right at the end. It left me hanging and begging for more. I love the story, the mobsters, conmen and the curse magic. It's a fantastically drawn, dangerous, intriguing world to get lost in. A must read in my opinion. Great characters, great plot, some sharp wit and just overall a fantastic read. Can't wait for Red Glove (book 2) next year!

Rating: 9/10

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