White Cat by Holly Black

White Cat by Holly BlackWhite Cat by Holly Black
Series: Curse Workers #1
Genre: Paranormal
Release Date: March 1, 2012
Publisher: Indigo
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Cassel comes from a family of Curse Workers - people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn't got magic, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail - he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

Okay, so I bought this book on a whim one day; I have vague memories of Amber telling me it was good so I was reasonably sure I’d enjoy it. Plus, criminals! Not everyone knows this about me but um, I love stories about villains. Immoral people, people with broken moral compasses (actually my favourite part of TVD was Damon and Elena constantly being terrible people, it was so great), people who don’t care about crossing lines or just plain ruthless mercenary types. I love ’em all. I am that girl who used to watch all the Mafia documentaries on the History Channel, so, like, an entire YA series about criminals(!!!!) with powers(!!!!!) was obviously something I had to check out. I was so not disappointed, either.


Let me tell you guys, Holly Black can write. White Cat moves at a fantastic speed, twisting and turning with every chapter – it’s like being in a car chase, except you’re sitting in an elegant luxury car being held hostage by the Mafia with your best friend’s body locked in the trunk. I love it so <3 Her prose isn’t dripping in pretentious metaphors but is at turns, simple and lush – you still get that level of detail that makes the world come to life. She’s also very funny, combining wit with inept characters and the kind of satire that just really appeals to me.

The thing I really enjoyed about this book were the characters. The plot is great, and the idea of Curse Working fantastic, but no story without good characters. White Cat is full of terrible people being generally terrible; it’s marvellous tbh. You’ve got our protagonist, Cassel, who is a bit slow on the uptake really – I figured out stuff before he did and that literally never happens.
Cassel is also very much the runt of his family; powerless whereas his brothers, extended family and mother all have their own unique gifts. Oblivious to the hints that are really fucking obvious after a while, Cassel’s only wish in life is to be normal because I guess it helps with the knowledge that he offed his best friend, Lila. Even the most straitlaced kids have secrets, okay. Cassel’s brothers are generic Slytherin types – cunning, self-serving, ambitious and have a tendency to deeply underestimate their little brother. There’s also his mother, who is the most excellent combination of slightly unhinged but extremely smart with no moral compass. Cassel’s mother’s gifts literally lie in emotional manipulation – she can alter the emotions of anyone she touches, including her sons. Also she’s in prison. Fantastic.

I also really liked the idea of a world in which Curse Workers exist and because of the things they can do, are feared. Abilities such as being lucky, or very strong, or even being able to manipulate emotions fit perfectly in a world where crime is basically a career choice for Curse Workers. There are also powers which are rare as well as common; those which are dangerous for both the Worker and whoever is being worked upon. I love reading about worlds which are fully formed, you guys <3

So yeah, I really, really liked this series, so much so that as soon as I finished the first book I immediately ordered the next two in the trilogy. I think this is a really excellent YA series that manages to be different from the norm.

One comment on “White Cat by Holly Black

  1. Kristen Williams January 18, 2014 2:31 am

    I really enjoyed this one too! I’ve still not read the last book of the series but I plan too (eventually). I feel like I’ve seen many different covers for this one…very interesting. now I feel like looking them up. So glad you enjoyed this one and love the tidbit about you loving villains and watching mafia shows. I love villains too :-) I need a great bad guy to help make the good guy that much better :-)

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