Wednesday, April 6, 2011

White Cat & Red Glove eARC ~ Holly Black Reviews

(Apologies for this not being posted first yesterday and then earlier today--migraines are not fun thing.)

White Cat

Margaret K. McElderry
February 8, 2011
336 pages
(linking to the paperback because the audio is much more expensive)
Goodreads/Amazon/Book Depository

Seventeen-year-old Cassel Sharpe is the oddity in his family, the only one who's not a curse worker.

His mother, grandfather, and two older brothers all make their money by performing illegal curses but Cassel, left without any such talent resorts to being a con man. While his wit and charm to get him far (and make him money) he never quite fits in with them.

Somewhere he does fit in better as a non-worker, though
is at Wallingford Prep, the fancy boarding school he attends where, like most of the rest of society, being a 'worker' is seen as a bad thing.

Quickly, however, nightmares with a white cat that eerily resemble Lila, the family friend (and his good friend) and crime bosses daughter that was murdered years ago, his own family's ties to organized crime and more threaten to pull Cassel into the world from which he's tried so hard to escape.

I listened to this book on audio--originally because I was giving it a bit of a test run before recommending it to my brother (he listens to more audiobooks). I was sure that since he loves Zombieland and Jesse Eisenberg narrated the audio, I would have a good shot. (I also really liked Tithe, but I'll admit that was a secondary factor.)

I have to say, though, I did love this book--the narration and the story!
Holly Black has created a world where everyone wears gloves all of the time to protect their hands--well, to protect other people from their hands. Certain people (largely those in certain families) are 'curse workers.' They can performs curses (memory, luck or other curses by touching people with their bare hands.

Cassel, the main character in White Cat is from a powerful worker family, but has no ability himself. And that's pretty okay with him. He's figured out how to con people, very well.

He's even gotten away to his prestigious boarding school and is doing pretty well until nightmares start invading his mind.

And that's when Cassel starts having trouble but we start to learn more about his family and the story really comes alive. I love the world Holly Black's created and how it's so close to our own, but so very different. It's sort of the Godfather meets Harry Potter (with a pinch of something really dysfunctional).

That's all forgetting that the ending will leave you happy that you read this when Red Glove has already been released (unlike I did!)!!

Rating: 8/10

Red Glove
Margaret K. McElderry
April 5, 2011
336 pages
Goodreads/Amazon/Book Depository

**This will contain a lot of spoilers, right from the start, for White Cat the first book in the Curse Workers series so stop reading now if you haven't read that one yet!!**

You've stopped reading if you don't want to be spoiled for White Cat, right? Okay, good. Because this would have spoiled you: Cassel discovered that his brother's were working his memories so that he would forget that he's not really a non-worker after all.
Rather, Cassel is the most powerful kind of worker there is.

By simply touching someone with a bare hand he can turn them into anything he wants. It's how Lila became that white cat. (And Lila, a girl again.) It's also how however many other people became however many other things Cassel can't remember.

Everything should be close to right for Cassel, too, except his mother worked Lila to love him so he's avoiding her--as much as he hates it--because he does love her and whatever she's feeling is just magic. And his brother, Barron, thinks he and Cassel have the Hallmark card of brotherly relationships because that's what Cassel wrote in his 'memory notebooks.'

Now, Cassel's oldest brother has been murdered and the Feds want Cassel's help. Their only clue? Video surveillance of a woman in red gloves. Will Cassel even be able to help?

And what about the Mob guys who've discovered just how useful Cassel is? All the while he's trying to not get kicked out of Wallingford and discover if maybe, just maybe some of Lila's feelings could be real.

Red Glove is a little similar to White Cat in that Cassel is trying to solve some sort or another of a mystery for most of the story, but I think that's also why I love it. He and Sam are great together while they're recklessly disregarding the rules (or in Sam's case, half recklessly half carefully) and deciding which way makes them look the coolest.

It was nice to see the characters from the first book brought back where appropriate and to see so many of them grow during this second book. Cassel, especially, seems to have grown from the events of the first book, but he's still the character everyone fell in love with during White Cat. He might be more grown up now and more jaded about his family, but it works on him.

With Cassel, there's a level of snark and cynicism that, while it would likely be very off putting on an older character, is really charming because he's still a high school student.

The mystery Red Glove keeps readers guessing. There are a few times when the 'who' is almost revealed or the reader thinks it is . . . but then it's not. It's not done in a manner that feels like a tease or unsatisfying, more in a way that feels even more satisfying at the true conclusion.

So much more was revealed in this book (especially towards the end) that I cannot wait for the next book in the series.

Rating: 8/10

(thank you to Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab for the egalley of Red Glove--and my library for the audio version of White Cat!)

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