Thursday, June 7, 2012

White Cat by Holly Black

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon and Schuster)
Pages: 310
Series or Stand Alone: Book One in Holly Black’s FABULOUS Curseworkers Series
Summary: (from The first in a trilogy, this gritty, fast-paced fantasy is rife with the unexpected. Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn’t fit in at home or at school, so he’s used to feeling like an outsider. He’s also used to feeling guilty—he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.
But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, and people around him are losing their memories, he starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas—and a plan to con the conmen.

I re-read White Cat so that all the details were fresh in my mind so I could properly enjoy the third book, Black Heart, when it was released. Also, I loved this book so much that I really couldn’t wait to re-read it. I have it on my kindle (thanks to its $2.99 sale price) and I recently bought a copy in a store at a low bargain price in the event that I need to lend it to someone.
In a world in which working magic is known and outlawed, Cassel Sharpe is a liar and a con artist. Skills like his were learned from childhood while surrounded by magical organized crime and his emotion-manipulating con artist of a mother. Cassel’s entire life is spent pretending to be something he’s not--pretending it doesn’t matter that he’s not a curseworker like the rest of his family, pretending he’s a normal teenager at his boarding school, pretending not to be bothered by the memory of the last time he saw his childhood friend and love Lila--dead, with him standing above her, holding a knife. Cassel starts sleepwalking and having dreams about a white cat. Once he notices that people around him are being memory-worked. Cassel knows he must find out the truth about what happened to Lila--and what’s been happening to him before more people get hurt.
We all know I adore this book, so I’ll just cut to the chase. The storyline is fantastic. I’m a fan of urban fantasy. I love seeing the world we know tweaked by magic and supernatural beings. In Cassel’s world, curseworking is outlawed. Everyone, worker or not, must wear gloves in order to prevent bare hand contact. Organized crime plays a major role in this book, with many of the characters involved with the Zacharov family. The government is attempting to make it so that everyone must be tested for abilities, causing worker rights advocacy groups to fight for privacy. Holly Black’s worldbuilding, though built into a recognizable reality for us, is fantastic. Politics and crime are just like they are in our world--except that magic plays a major role.
I know I’ve spoken about my love for Cassel in Top Ten All Time Favorite Characters and Top Ten Favorite Narrators, but I can’t let this review go without shouting it from the rooftops again: I LOVE CASSEL SHARPE’S CHARACTER. Holly Black created an incredibly believable male voice and a perfect unreliable narrator to boot. Cassel lies and cons people, all while carrying a huge burden and a tangle of internal conflicts. All he wants is to be a normal teenage guy, not just act like one. Oh, Cassel. Good luck with that one.
Even though I had already read this book, I had to race through the end to find out what happened again (and maybe I finished it while I was supposed to be working, what of it?). Holly Black’s White Cat is a great start to the Curseworkers trilogy and a brilliant urban fantasy novel. I’d recommend it to anyone who might listen to me. Now, ON TO Red Glove!

Rating: 5 - whoever thought this didn’t end up on my shelf of favorites clearly hasn’t listened to me speak

NOTE: I was able to meet Holly Black at BEA yesterday and it was the BEST THING EVER!!! She was absolutely fantastic and I was able to talk to her about how much I adore these books. Woo!

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