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I Belong

Review: White Cat by Holly Black

Title: White Cat

Author: Holly Black

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Series: Curse Workers (Book 1)

Publication Date: May 4, 2010

Format: Hardcover, 310 Pages

ISBN-10: 1416963960 (Simon & Schuster)

ISBN-13: 978-1416963967 (Simon & Schuster)

Reviewed by: Michelle


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 criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn’t got magic, so he’s an outsider, the striaght kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail – he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself 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 outcon the conmen.

Quick & Dirty: An engrossing and unique tale filled with dark, paranormal elements that will leave you wanting more.

Opening Sentence: I wake up barefoot, standing on cold slate tiles.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Holly Black brings us into the world of curse workers, in White Cat, the first book of the Curse Workers series. I’ve never read any of Black’s books, prior to White Cat, but many of my friends have raved about her work and world building. I was told to expect a wonderful range of characters, all with a varying array of personality depth. I was also told to expect the unexpected, throwing out all preconceived notions of whatever I heard about this book. Well, I’m here to tell you the same thing. Embrace White Cat for each word that Black writes onto the page.

The plot of White Cat is none like I’ve ever seen. It is a modern take on magic and magicians, but in the form of curses. In a world where curse workers are feared and outcasted, Black explains her unique world in detail. Cassel is a young man who comes from a well-known line of Curse of Workers. Every member has a powerful curse, all except him. In his life of non-existent power, he is the one with more morals than the rest of his family, mostly turning away from a life that belongs to mobsters and con artists. The only downfall to Cassel’s life? He killed Lila, his best friend.

I instantly loved Cassel from the moment I was introduced to him. He is smart and witty, filling the pages with snark and charisma. But Cassel is not social nor is he a social-climber, he is mysterious and reclusive, keeping away from as many people as he can. A white cat and a best friend haunt his dreams, and when added with bouts of sleepwalking, it’s bound to result in disaster.

Black’s White Cat is filled with new and adult material. Teetering on adult situations and problems, Black touches on the issues of loyalty and betrayal, depression, and criminal flaws. I feel that White Cat has mafia-like elements, but in the end, Black talks about family and all of the dysfunctional traits of one.

White Cat’s world is superb. There are so many dark moments in mysterious corners that I couldn’t wait to find out about. In Black’s modern world, White Cat has many paranormal elements that could belong in a fantasy world. Nothing needed to be explained in detail, but that is the amazing talent that Black has. She introduced the right amount of detail for the reader to accept and allow their imagination to run away with.

Holly Black’s White Cat has quickly become one of my favorite books. I highly urge you to pick this up if you haven’t done so already. So many twists, turns, and surprises. I cannot wait to find out what happens next.

Notable Scene:

Let’s also say someone gave me that dream, the one where the cat was begging for help. If I were cursed to have it, that would mean someone had to touch me, hand to skin. The cat—the one that slept on my bed, the one near my dorm room in the video—did touch me.

So maybe the cat gave me the dream.

Of course, that’s ridiculous. Cats are animals. They can no more perform curse work than they can perform a sonata or compose a villanelle.

Unless the cat was really a girl. A girl who was a dream worker. Lila.

Which would mean something far different—not just that some memories of murdering her were stolen from me. It would mean she’s not dead.

The Curse Workers Trilogy:

1. White Cat

2. Red Glove

3. Black Heart

FTC Advisory: Simon & Schuster/Margaret K McElderry provided me with a copy of White Cat.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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