Wednesday, 16 January 2013
White Cat by Holly Black
Series: Curse Workers #1
Type: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Cassel is cursed. He comes from a family of magic workers and lives in a world where magic was banned decades ago, but Cassel can't work magic. His family hate him for being the only non-worker...and because they helped cover up a murder he committed as a child. But when Cassel finds himself being haunted by a white cat, and his dreams are leading him to sleepwalk to increasingly bizarre places, he is forced to turn to his family to discover the secrets hidden in his past.
This is the first book in the Curse Workers series and the first book by Holly Black I've read and it blew me away. Finding young adult urban fantasy can be near impossible, but this is an incredible example of just how good it can be. Holly Black has reshaped our world by pushing curse workers out of the closet in 1929 and now in the present day their existence is banned so they are forced to hide their identities. One thing I love is that in this world, magic comes at a cost, so whatever you do will rebound on you in a somewhat karmic way.
The plot is brilliantly written and packed with twists and turns. There is an incredible depth of storyline and the world of the curse workers is fully fleshed out. Workers are divided into different groups (death workers that can kill with a touch, memory workers who can rewrite your life) and exist as an underground society since the ban, with most working as con artists or for organized gangs. There are even worker equality groups in the non-worker community. The idea of a con is woven throughout the storyline as it is a skill Cassel learnt at his mother's knee.
Cassel is a great lead character. As the normal guy in a family of workers, he is able to introduce us to their world without info-dumping and also plays the black sheep incredibly well which helps him in his quest to find out why he's being haunted by the white cat. His roommate Sam ends up as his best friend almost by accident and I loved how their friendship grew over the course of the book. Daneca the pro-worker supporter adds some comic relief to the book with her determintion to win Cassel to her side.
Cassel's family on the other hand was a different story. I didn't really like either of his brothers or his jailbird mother, but I adored his death worker grandfather Desi. He brought a new dimension to the story and quickly became a favourite character.
All in all, this was a great read and I'm looking forward to Red Glove.