Review: White Cat by Holly Black

From Goodreads: 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, 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.

Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love — or death — and your dreams might be more real than your memories.

Let me start off by saying I have been reading Holly Black since before I was a blogger. Since before I knew what the term Urban Fantasy was or what it meant, what imprints were and how they influence my reading. It’s not often anymore I can bring you a review of a book from an author that I was fangirling over back before Bookalicious was born, and Holly Black is one of those authors.

We find Cassel at a boarding school (and y’all know I love me some boarding schools) where he is generally bored and making a nuisance of himself by running an illegal betting pool with stacked odds. Cassel is immediately likable even though he is the type of character we all love to loathe normally. I am still not sure how Black pulled that one over on me. Cassel has a nightmare that he is standing on a roof about to jump when he wakes up standing on a roof about to jump, has he been cursed by a worker? The school freaks out and throws him out until he can promise not to sleep walk anymore and this is where the true meat of the story begins.

We follow Cassel through the book trying to come to grips with a murder he committed. He killed his best friend Lila, she also happens to be the next in line for the head of a huge crime family. His family helped him cover up the murder and sent him to a fancy school as his mother is sitting in jail having been caught emotion working a rich guy for some cash. I really can’t tell you more without giving plot points away just know it is real, it gets gritty and it’s dark and it is well worth reading.

One of the most interesting things that Black did with this story is that the environment itself was almost a character on it’s own. We have mobsters who take young workers whose parents abandon them and bring them up in crime families, everyone wears gloves to keep from being worked on the street randomly. We have bills in office to legalize working because some workers want to use it for good, and underground support groups helping workers in countries where their hands are being cut off out of fear from people who are afraid of being worked. Dare I say this book has some dystopic undertones for the workers?

If you haven’t read this yet you should, especially with book two Red Glove coming out just around the corner in April!

FTC Disclosure: I got this book as a Christmas present, oh and don’t come to close if I don’t have my gloves on.

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