Tuesday 10 June 2014

Book Review - White Cat

White Cat
Author: Holly Black
Series: Curse Workers #1
Genres: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy | Young Adult
Release Date: 4th June 2010
Publishers: Gollancz
No. Pages: 310
Source: Borrowed
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
Cassel comes from a family of curse workers - people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, all by the slightest touch of their hands. Since curse work is illegal, they're all criminals. But not Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider - the straight kid in a crooked family - as long as you ignore one small detail:
He killed his best friend, Lila.

Now he is sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat. He also notices that his brothers are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of one huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to outcon the conmen.

I'd heard very little of the Curse Workers series prior to reading White Cat, and I think if I had, I might have taken in the first half much better than I actually did. The most I'd heard was that it was good, which I can only positively agree with, and that it builds a bridge to the rest of the series, which I can also say is very true. The first and second halves of this book are so different in pace, plot, and character development that I personally would find it easier to split this review into two halves, so that's what I'm going to do.

Being written in the first person present narrative to the reader was surprisingly difficult to start with; it wasn't the writing style which was really quite wonderful, and it wasn't the world building, because even though it wasn't in depth, I wasn't lost for a single moment, I don't know what it was, but I think the self-loathing and 'woe is me' that Cassel's character was pulling off made it very easy not to connect and relate to him easily within the first half of this book and even though we later find out the truth about him, first impressions matter, and Cassel didn't give off a good first one. However, the touches of being a con man and a hustler really peeked my interest. I was a huge fan of the BBC show Hustle and would watch it religiously every week; I loved seeing a con getting put together, being pulled off, and having the little secret touches that the audience never even knew about it, it was brilliant, and Black managed to weave this into her plot almost seamlessly. When Cassel wasn't plotting, everything else seemed too, disjointed and mismatched, and I 100% understand that was the style Black was going for considering Cassel's situation with the memories and the lack of them, but had I had a little warning the first half of this book was going to be as sluggish to get through as it was, I might have been pushed to read it quicker. The dark tints in Cassel's personality really made this book more interesting in that first half though, and the gruesome and twisted dreams he had really added a little extra something to what would have been a lack-luster start. However, as soon as the second half kicked in and the revelations became apparent, White Cat seemed to go from 'when is it over?' to 'it's over already?'

The moment we found out about the memories and Lila, I felt I'd been strapped onto a rocket and shot a thousand miles an hour. The plot moved at a stupidly fast pace and even at that speed, I was still not lost; in fact, the entire story and first half felt clearer than it had from the start. I began to enjoy the features of the characters having different curse work talents, memory, luck, emotions and so many more, it was such a good touch to have when complimented with the normal human con work that took place; it was the perfect mixture of the normal and paranormal and I even liked the touches of the big families involved with the hierarchy and traitors within the walls, it really was good. Not only that, but the truth about Lila only helped develop Cassel's character even more; he became a leader, a protector and someone with talent and a plan, he became respected and had loyal friends and later realised that being the youngest of the family doesn't mean you should be the one protected, that sometimes you need to do the protecting. The final con, the huge con in this book was just so enticing and fantastic that I couldn't believe that I was reading the same book I had been earlier; the pacing was fantastic, the tension and build up was created amazingly and the actual con itself was so well constructed and executed, Black did her research, and after years watching Hustle, I know a good con when I see one, and that one was so absolutely brilliant that I couldn't have imagined it any better. Black's talent in creating a depthness to her characters, no matter how minor to the plot really wowed me in this second half, with Cassel's grandfather becoming a huge player in the game, and his brothers being the conned not the conners, even the development of Phillips wife and Cassel's friends Sam and Daneca was just brilliant and after being completely underwhelmed in the first half, I was overwhelmed in the second.

After such a powerful con, I hadn't expected such a plot twist in the final chapter, and Black took away the slimmer of hope I had of having some good sexual tension in this series, so I'm just going to have to kick back and relax when I move into Red Glove and hope for some good movements on the romance hill. White Cat is definitely a tale, (get it) of two halves, and I usually hate it when I'm told this, but it's a book that you need to break into in order to get to the good, juicy, fantastic part, and after that, it's given to you on a platter. This book has fantastic features and has a real knack of the subtle gruesome, so I'm eager to see where Black takes this series with Cassel's character and his new found talent and see just how much this revelation will change the world he lives in and the life he's created for himself.


  1. Stupidly fast pace indeed. Heck its been years since I read this one but I still remembering devouring it. Then being upset I'd have to wait a year for the next book and then by the time it did come out I didn't read it cause I wanted to reread and then I thought I'll wait til the last book comes out and now its out and still haven't reread.. YOu just reminded me that I need to! I love Holly Black!

    1. I'm glad I could remind you Tabitha! Oh I loved it, I already want to re-read it again, it was just so enjoyable! :D

  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book, Amanda - I want to read it soon. Thank you for the wonderful review. :)

    1. You're welcome Ebony! It's definitely worth the read! :)

  3. Oh, I'm glad you liked this one! It's on my I-needed-to-read-this-yesterday list. GAH. Why are there so many books?! The only thing I've really read of Holly Black's is the Spiderwick Chronicles and I'm not 100% sure that counts. I read like most of them in one day. Ha! But they were cute. I want to try this one...and also The Coldest Girl in Coldtown! (I have that one on reserve at the library.)

    1. I need to see where you keep these lists Cait, their titled perfectly! I want to read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown myself; I am hoping I reserve a copy at the library too, but right now, I'm reserving Cress (eeep!) and I'm going to be writing a list of books to put on reserve bit by bit. Damn my library obsession.. READ IT CAIT! :D

  4. Oh, thanks for the warning on this one. I will make sure I stick with it if I am struggling with the first half of it. I'm definitely going to see if they have this book for reserve at work, have heard great things about the series. I really hope I love it! :)

    1. You're welcome hunny! I do think it's worth pushing through, and I think it's worth continuing too with the series :)


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