Review Blog

Jul 22 2011

Red glove by Holly Black

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Curse Workers Book 2. Orion Books, 2011. ISBN 9780575096769.
(Age 14+) Recommended. The second in the series, following White cat, lives up to the promise of the first and is another compulsive read from Holly Black. Cassel Sharpe is having problems. He has discovered that he is a transformer, a powerful curse worker who can transform anything he touches into something else. His brothers have manipulated his memories and he doesn't realise what he has done. When Philip, his older brother is murdered, the FBI recruits him to find the killer. He has one clue, a picture of a woman in red gloves who entered his brother's apartment. While investigating he is confronted with more visions of what he had done while under the influence of his brothers and worse of all, Lila, the girl he loves, has been placed under a love spell by his mother and he knows he can't trust her emotions.
After a slightly slow start, as I didn't have White cat on my shelves to refresh my memory about preceding events, the pace picked up and I found myself engrossed in Cassel's dilemmas. I really like the character of Cassel and the fact that it is told from the point of view of a boy, who tries to be good, but is surrounded by the Mob and his dodgy family. But being good by Cassel's standards usually means a con of some sort and Cassel has the ability to con the best of them.
The idea of someone having the ability to transform objects is fascinating and I loved the gory descriptions of what Cassel had transformed. It's also thought provoking to imagine just how much self-control a worker who could transform needed to have. Imagine if you lost your temper easily! Whether curse workers should be protected is also explored with Daneca, Cassel's friend, waving banners and her lawyer mother being prepared to help Cassel (after a small con on his part!)
The love interest was also handled really well. It was refreshing to see a young man trying to do the right thing and not take advantage of Lila, and the surprise conclusion will have me coming back for the next episode in their relationship. But the love interest, while very important, is not the central focus of the book. It is whether Cassel can resist the lure of becoming an assassin, and try to remain true to the goodness in his character.
Holly Black has written a unique and fascinating book, with enough twists and turns to appeal to both boys and girls. I can't wait for the next in the series.
Pat Pledger

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