Sunday, July 4, 2010

White Cat by Holly Black

White Cat (The Curse Workers Book 1) by Holly Black
Gollancz 2010. Trade pb £10.99 / hc £18.99
Reviewed by Jan Edwards

Holly Black describes this as ‘...a novel about capers, curse magic and memory.’ I am not sure I can put it a lot better than that, but I shall try. Cassel is the only non-worker in a family of Curse-Magic Workers, and his elder brothers look down on him as a result. His father is dead and his mother is in jail for ‘working’ a sting on a millionaire with her ‘emotion’ touch. In fact, since Curse Working is illegal, many Workers are employed by a Curse-Worker Mob boss. Surely enough for any 17 year old to cope with, you would think? But Cassel has a lot more to contend with. His sleepwalking results in his being suspended from school, and he was haunted constantly for the past three years by memories of his murdering his girlfriend, Lila – who is the only daughter to the afore-mentioned Mobster.

With an opening like this you know life can only get complicated and so it does. A white cat is communicating with him through his dreams, and then it turns up in 'person'. The magic in White Cat is consistent throughout and the place and people are totally believable.Cassel himself is not just a crook by default. He enjoys the thrill of chasing down his mark, even without the aid of magic. He’s a con-man and you know you shouldn’t like him; yet you can’t help yourself.

Like many of the Paranormal Romance titles this is marketed as YA but can be found as easily among the adult novels, with characters, intrigue and pace of a high quality that sets the page-turning quotient on high (I read White Cat in one sitting). I would also say in passing that Gollancz cover (shown) is more fitting than the ‘Twilight’ cover of the McElderry US edition. Red Glove, the second Curse Workers Book is expected May 2011.

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