Tuesday, August 10, 2010

White Cat by Holly Black

Cassel comes from a messed-up family of curse workers. Think X-Men but with powers of manipulating emotion, thoughts, memories and dreams by touch. He's an outsider though because he lacks any curse-working abilities. Thankfully, what he lacks in seemingly faulty genes is made up for by his talents in lying, thievery and conning.

Oh - and Cassel has some baggage from when he murdered his best friend Lila three years earlier. But things really start to go downhill when he begins sleepwalking, again. And his dreams continue to star a white cat who is trying to tell him something. His already shady brothers are acting even more dodgy than usual, and the events surrounding Lila's (accidental?) murder aren't adding up.

So begins Cassel's freaky descent into the dark and gritty world of the curse workers, where things are never quite as they seem.

I for one am not a huge fan of the cover art here. 1) It's weird, and 2) I never trust books where the name of the author is twice as big as the title. Also, I can't ever remember the title because both the words Black and White are on it - which I guess is a personal problem.

Anyway. Moving on. So this has been my foray into the writings of Holly Black and I KNOW she's written all sorts of (insert adjective here) urban fantasy but obviously I'm a little late to all parties. Which probably has something to do with uninterest in her other stuff. Whatever.

This, though, I liked. I liked that the POV was from Cassel. I found him to be an interestingly flawed hero, what with A Shady Past and playing bookie at some snobbish private school and his Lonerness but confidence in his Skills In The Art Of Deception. He is a sympathetic and well-formed character. His brothers were also fascinating, but in more of a Super Creepy And You're Definitely Hiding Something way throughout, and a MAY YOU ROT IN HELL kind of way in the end.

And quite honestly, I enjoyed the concept of the curse workers. It's very Godfather but instead of tommy guns and piano wire people are knocked off by superpowers. Though they lack the classiness of the Corleone family. Which is appropriate I guess, since this takes place in New Jersey.

It took me a while to understand the gist of cursing, since Black never comes outright to explain it, which is all well and good, but I still don't understand some aspects of it. Either I was slightly incoherent from lack of sleep, or Black needed better completion on her world building. The Big Mysteries weren't all that mysterious, but there were some parts that kind of threw me. And, as always, I am annoyed by the non-ending. I mean, isn't it possible to do a sequel without finishing book one by some cheap I SHALL LEAVE YOU BEGGING TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT last few paragraphs?! Alright alright I confess there are some fantastic books that do this, like The Hunger Games and The Knife of Never Letting Go. I'm not sure why it bugs me so much in some books but not in others. Maybe it's because some sequels I wouldn't be that interested in if it weren't for those !@#$%^& cliffhangers that pull me back in for round two (or three, or four . . . UGH I'm so disgusted with authors and publishers right now!!)!


I'll give kudos to Black for creativity of storyline, interesting characters, and some funny bits. So 3.5 stars it is then.

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