Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Book Review: White Cat (Curse Workers #1) by Holly Black

Title: White Cat (Curse Workers #1)
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Publishing Date: May 2010
Length: 320 pages
Genre: YA, fantasy

4/5 **** Once you pick up White Cat you’d better wear gloves. It’s conjuring! 

 ~ The Author ~

Holly Black is a best-selling author of contemporary fantasy novels for kids, teens, and adults. She is the author of the Modern Faerie Tale series (Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside), The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), and The Good Neighbors graphic novels (with Ted Naifeh). Her most current books are The Poison Eaters and Other Stories, a collection of short fiction, and White Cat. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Theo, in a house with a secret library.

Author profile by Goodreads 

For further information check out http://www.blackholly.com/

Or visit Holly’s blog http://blackholly.livejournal.com/

~ The Novel ~

White Cat is the first novel in Holly Black’s The Curse Worker series, released in May 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry. Red Glove, Curse Workers #2 and Black Heart, the final novel, will be released in April 2011 and 2012. 

The official Curse Workers website: http://www.thecurseworkers.com/

~ The Story ~

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.
Summary by Goodreads

~ The Review ~

We are thrown into the world of con games and introduced to the supernatural powers one single touch can have. Black invented many new super powers like influencing luck and manipulating memories to show off in White Cat .
The world of cons and games is very complex, offering various talents to keep the reader entertained . It 's prevailing mood is dark and mysterious. 

With “White Cat”, Black chose a very interesting title for her novel. The word constellation itself is simple and bland, but readers will really appreciate it in the end. Seeing it in front of the whole story White Cat has a special meaning, it is the best title she could have chosen, because a small white cat is the essence, the mystery and the key to a main secret.

The protagonist Cassel is thoughtful and shy. One would say he is plain, boring, others would state that he has a tormenting secret. Cassel is a murderer… he murdered his best friend, but has no idea how and especially why he should have done this.
Thinking of himself as a murderer, it turns out that Cassel has the most interesting talent in the con world. Murder case Lila could lend Cassel new undreamt of powers or could destroy his life, everything and everyone he believed in.   

The more Cassel questions the murderer of his best friend Lila, the more the story picks up speed. I liked his character and the mystery always circling around him. The plot line I was most interested in was the relationship between Cassel and ,his best friend and victim, Lila. This main relationship is replenished with various small plot lines and interactions of Cassel’s and Lila's family members. I fell in love with Cassel, but got sometimes even annoyed about his family and their long-winded subplots.

Chapter by chapter, Black reveals more details about Cassel’s secret, the murder of Lila, family backgrounds and intrigues. She applies a very highbrow style of writing to create a wonderful and thrilling start to the complex Curse Workers series. Holly Black is a witty and talented author, she left me screaming in the end, when I realised that I became the victim of a con myself!

~We love this book because… ~

1) waking up on a roof is an extraordinary imaginative way to start your day 
2) we got to witness men wearing elegant gloves… in 21st and not 18th century 
3) Not every white cat acts obediently hearing “Come here, kitty kitty”
4) lost memories are always to return… with full impact
5) a single phone call can destroy the most realistic picture of love

~ The Verdict ~

White Cat is a gloomy story about a family that isn’t really what she pretends to be, and a boy that has to find out who he really is, seamed with hatred, intrigues and crime. Go get White Cat and let the masterly con begin!


  1. I really loved this book, though not quite as much as Holly Black's other books. Still, I'm looking forward to The Red Glove!

  2. I loved the way Holly Black built the world of White Cat. There were so many great little details that really made the story interesting! Oh, and I love me some Baron! Can't wait to read more about him in Red Glove. Great review!

  3. That sound like an interesting story! I need to visit my favorite bookstore soon ^^

  4. Thanks for the great review!
    This book is somewhere in the middle of my TBR pile, but I might have to move it up towards the top. The family dynamics sound especially intriguing :)

  5. This is a great review. I adore Holly Black. I loved this book.

  6. Awesome review! I've picked this one up a few times but never bought it :) Now, I think I just might!

  7. Well , i can't wait to get my copy to read it , seems like an interesting read :d

  8. Great review! I've been meaning to read this for the longest time! I just never seem to get to it though! :( But I LOVE Holly, so I'm sure I will love this book!
    I just started a review blog, and I'm still trying to learn how to cut down my reviews since I know they are super long and NOBODY wants to read a review over 500 words! Lol. :)So if you could follow my blog or have any advise for me, I would love to hear from you! Thank you!

    http://909reviews.blogspot.com Keep up the great reviews!
    (I'm your newest follower) :)

  9. A brilliant review! I want to read this book series so badly, the plotline sounds so interesting and the whole idea of curse workers is just insane (in a good way, of course)! The only books by Holly Black Ive read were The Spiderwick Chronicles when I was 12 or 13 and those were childrens books, lol.

  10. I'm currently reading this one and am not really into it. After reading this review, maybe I'll read it a little longer...

  11. 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.