Review Blog

Nov 30 2010

White cat by Holly Black

cover image

Curse Workers, Bk 1. Orion, 2010. ISBN 9780575096714.
(Age 14+) Recommended for lovers of paranormal stories. Cassel is cursed. He remembers his sly grin of glee at the scene of the murder of his friend Lila. His family believes that he is a murderer as well as not having the ability to work magic, which is a disaster in a family of curse workers. After fighting very hard to look normal and fit into his school, he is discovered on its steep roof, after a sleepwalking incident. And things get worse after that. Terrifying nightmares about a white cat that wants to tell him something and the disturbing behaviour of his two brothers make him feel paranoid. To discover the mysterious secrets that surround him, Cassel has to outwit the con men.
Black has created an absorbing world, where workers of magic con the populace or work for the heads of the mobs. This world is very different from that in her darker faerie books, Tithe and Ironside, but is equally as compelling. The reader is gradually introduced to this dark and dangerous world when Cassel begins to believe that he may be at the centre of a big con, and begins to work a con of his own.
Told in the first person by Cassel, who is an unreliable narrator, as he is never sure just what is happening to him, I was carried along by the force of his personality. Cassel longs to be normal, and has spent 3 years at his boarding school, being pleasant and trying to fit in. As the plot develops, Cassel has to take control of what is happening to him and he plans the ultimate con, using the skills that his mother, who has been jailed for conning a wealthy man, has taught him. On his journey, he discovers much about the importance of family and friends and the consequences of his actions and those of his family. I enjoyed the way that Black vividly described all her characters, with their strengths and flaws.
With a believable world peopled with good and evil, a touch of romance, a surprise ending and some fascinating magic, White cat is sure to appeal.
Pat Pledger

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