Monday, June 28, 2010

White Cat by Holly Black

Curse workers are people who, with even just a brief touch of their hand, can affect you in some way: control your emotions, change your memories, kill you,  alter your luck, or, the ability prized above all others, change one thing to another. This gift, or curse, is not without its penalties; the blowback for using one’s ability often makes it a high price to pay. Curse working is illegal, which has given rise to powerful crime families, like the Zacharovs, whom Cassel’s family works for, though they are not the only ones utilizing workers’ abilities.
Though he comes from a long line of curse workers, Cassel is not a worker himself, but he is, thanks to his mother, a budding con artist. Currently enrolled at Wallingford Preparatory, he spends his time conning classmates into believing he is a normal kid, running an underground betting ring, and still getting his homework done. When he almost sleepwalks to his death, all he has worked for is put in jeopardy as the school sends him home, as if they had been looking for a reason to get rid of him.

Once home he begins orchestrating a con to get back into school, while also helping his grandfather clean up the family home. The more time he spends at home and with his brothers, the more he realizes that something seems a little bit off. At the same time a white cat begins appearing in his dreams as well as in his waking life. As Cassel begins to unravel what is going on he will wonder how "worked" the world around him is.

Holly Black is one of the well-known authors of the Spiderwick Series, and her new title does not disappoint. The debut title in her new Curse Workers series, White Cat is like a great con, so charming and enthralling that the end comes as a shock.

Black’s cast of strange characters began as a rather typical group, but over the course of the book they reveal their true colors, in some cases to an almost bone-chilling truth. One of my favorite characters in the book is Cassel’s roommate Sam, a geeky gamer who thinks of everything as if it were part of  a game like Dungeons and Dragons, a dangerous move when you’re plotting against well-connected criminals. His geek outlook is amusing and brings little sparks of light to this often dark urban fantasy.

With its dark backdrop, shady characters, and all the suspense to go with them, White Cat is a brilliant read by a great author. You can check out White Cat and Holly Black’s other books on the VBPL catalog.

Curse Workers read-a-likes: X-men and Scryed.

1 comment:

Carolyn said...

Thanks for talking me into reading it!