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Stuff for the Teen Age

White Cat: A Review

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Hands can become dangerous weapons with the right training. But what if the lightest touch was enough? What if a finger placed on bare skin could change a person’s luck? What if it could make a person fall in love? What if it could transform them? What if it could steal a memory? What if a single, slight touch was enough to kill?

In a world where curse magic is real a bare hand is more dangerous than any weapon.

Working is illegal, of course, but that doesn’t make it go away. Instead, the curse workers are just driven underground, tied to crime families and working from the shadows to protect themselves–or maybe everyone else.

Cassel Sharpe comes from a long line of con men, gangsters and workers. Except for Cassel. He might know the art of the con better than most, but he isn’t a worker. He is a killer. He killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago. He loved her, but he killed her anyway.

Cassel thought Wallingford Prep–a normal school away from his criminal family–would be a place where he could become the person he wanted to be, or at least convince everyone else he was the person he wanted to be. That is until the white cat shows up.

It might want to tell him something. Or kill him. Maybe both.*

As Cassel tries to unravel the white cat’s intentions the facade of his normal life starts to crumble and nothing is what he expected. Cassel knows that being a con artist means thinking that you’re smarter than everyone else and that you’ve thought of everything. But what happens when it starts to seem like you’re the one being conned? That you can get away with anything. That you can con anyone. What do you do when it looks like you’re the one getting conned?

Cassel’s about to get even in White Cat (2010) by Holly Black.

White Cat is a total mind bender. Part mystery, part con game, part suspense, Holly Black has created a world like no other. The plot is filled with twists and unexpected turns but enough structure that readers will be able to keep ahead of (some) of the curves.

The story, much like its narrator Cassel, is simultaneously gritty and charming. Bare hands are simultaneously menacing and erotic. And lest being a worker seem too easy, every curse carries a blowback that turns on the worker itself, sometimes with devastating results. White Cat is a complex book that will likely leave readers with mixed feelings. Many of the characters, even the protagonists, are not nice people. Much of the ultimate resolution is messy. But life is not always nice nor neat, which is why White Cat is such a startlingly real fantasy that will leave readers wanting more.**

View the excellent trailer here: http://www.thecurseworkers.com/

Possible Pairings: What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell, The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, Heist Society by Ally Carter, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, Money Wanders by Eric Dezenhall, Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough, Leverage (television series), White Collar (television series)

*I greatly appreciate this book supporting my personal opinion that cats are scary. I also madly love the cover. Edgy, sinister, and fabulous.

**Always a good thing for the first book in a trilogy. There is no official date for the second Curse Workers book yet, but I can confirm from Holly Black’s livejournal and Sarah Rees Brennan’s twitter that the second book will be called Red Glove. Watch for it.***

***Any Cassandra Clare fans should also watch for a quick reference to Jace in this book ;)

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