Series: Curse Workers #1
Written by: Holly Black
Published: May 4, 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry (Simon and Schuster)
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Synopsis: Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn't fit in at home or at school, so he's used to feeling like an outsider. He's also used to feeling guilty; he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.
But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, and people around him are losing their memories, he starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas and a plan to con the conmen.
One thing I did love about this book was the world and the magical system. For one thing, this is a book about con men and organized crime. That right there is enough to intrigue me. And Holly Black did a great job with creating that world. It wasn't over the top and cliche in any way. The crime aspects was subtle which honestly made it complex. And while she did explain "the art of the trade" as it were throughout the book it didn't feel like info-dumps and came off as a good show not tell style of world building. I really enjoyed seeing the that all at play here.
I also think that I liked the world so much because it was tied to the magical system, a magical system I found totally interesting. If you have been around for awhile you know that I love magical systems that are similar to superpowers, and that's what this was here. The "curse work" gave the people who could do it their own individual powers, some more serious and dangerous that others, but all slightly dark and sinister. With just a touch they could make a person forget, dream whatever you wanted, or even kill them. It loved seeing the magic at work and learning more about it as the book developed.
However, as fantastic as the world and magical system was, the plot left me wanting more. On the whole it was interesting and engaging but it didn't totally blow me away. I think what was missing was the mystery elements. The mystery of the book definitely left a little to be desired. That isn't to say that there weren't surprises in this book because there were. There were a few that caught me off guard, but in general I did kind of feel as if they seemed a little bit predictable. Or not necessarily predictable as not revealed in a timely way. I didn't feel the shock with the mystery that I think would have given this book and the plot development on the whole that extra something for me.
But the world and the magic also made for interesting characters, There was a large cast here with both Cassel's family and those at his school. And while some of them were hard to keep track of and got mixed up in my head they still felt interesting enough that I wanted to know more. Plus I did really like Cassel, the main character. He's a great kind of protagonist in that he perfectly walked the line between good and evil. He is of course a con artist but in a family of workers and members of the world of organized crime he has a surprisingly good moral compass. Because of that, it's easy to root for him and that on top of his inquisitive nature and resourcefulness makes him all the more likeable.
And a lot of my thoughts on the character was due to the fact that I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by Jesse Eisenberg. Jesse did a great job with creating Cassel. He felt complex and likable in his uncertainty but intelligence. But at the same time, many of the other characters just sounded very similar. I usually prefer when narrators very the voices enough that I can tell the characters apart and that didn't feel like the case here. But he did do a good job creating the atmosphere and world of the book. I felt like that part really came alive and felt both complex and dark. I think it was a good audiobook but nothing that I would add to my favorites list.
But I think that basically sums up my feelings of this book. It was good, I liked it, but it's not going to be a new favorite. The world and magical system were fantastic, the characters were interesting, but the plot development and mystery left me wanting more. I'm not sure that at this point if I will continue with the series but I'm not opposed to it.
I give White Cat by Holly Black 8 out of 10 stars
Have you read White Cat? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!