White Cat (Curse Workers #1)
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.
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Cassel has carefully built up a faÃ§ade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his faÃ§ade 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. Hes noticing other disturbing things too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect hes part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to outcon the conmen. ~from the back cover of WHITE CAT
I have been a fan of Holly Black's world building for a very long time. What she does with fairies and trolls is a jewel in the crown of the paranormal genre. There's an edge to her work, a darkness that throws you off balance and keeps you there. So you could say I'm a fan from way back.
With the excellence she's already achieved in her books I didn't think it would be possible, but she's managed to take it to the next level with THE CURSE WORKERS: WHITE CAT.
I was hooked from the very first image of Cassel Sharpe standing on a cold roof in the middle of the night, breathing in icy air. Why was he there? What was he doing? Of course the obvious answer is always wrong, and looking for the truth kept me turning the pages (I read the ARC in one sitting, and then bought the hardback and read it again). Black drew me into Cassel's world and under his spell - beat by beat, sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter - and I was searching out answers like a heat seeking missile.
As always, Black's world building is superb. Everything here feels fresh, original, and well-thought-out. I was so invested I found myself thinking of possibilities for the characters long after I'd finished the last page. WHITE CAT is a paranormal story, but it's also rich with mystery and suspense. There's friendship and romance. The emotion is rich and the mafia-type family dynamic that goes with a life of crime takes its toll on Cassel. The angst his family causes him cuts to the bone, making him relatable in a realistic way. I can't wait to see the fallout that's sure to occur from some of that angst in book two, RED GLOVE.
The setting is rich and the plot lines move quickly - I'd love to see a movie made of this book.
Highest of high recommendations!
There were so many things I liked about this book. I don’t think I’ll be able to write this review if I don’t just name them separately.
Main character- I have to admit, I have a crush on Cassel from the moment he appeared shirtless and barefoot on that roof. Aside from being good-looking I like him because he seems so real. He doesn’t whine about being the only non-Worker in his family. He takes what he has left so he is an excellent scammer and a thief. He has been in love with the same girl since they were kids and I felt so bad for him because the girl doesn’t feel the same about him. At least not as much as he does. He is not a jerk like most YA leading men are. He is actually a great guy and he still made me swoon. Authors need to get a grip and start writing male characters that aren’t abusing the power of their looks. I would like Cass even if he was hideous. Why? Because he is just the kind of guy I want to have by my side.
Worker powers- I’ve never read anything like this. Cassel lives in a world where people are discriminated if they have certain ability so Workers hide their powers from other ordinary people and non-Workers fear everybody could steal their memories, change their luck from good to bad, give them nightmares, change their feelings or even kill them with a simple touch of their hand, so everybody wears gloves. But being a Curse Worker is not perfect. They get blowbacks; if someone erases the memories of a person s/he is going to lose one of their own memories.
Mafia- This is another thing I didn’t read about, especially not in a YA paranormal novel. Wish we find out more about them but I guess we’ll see more of the criminal activities in the second book.
The love interest- I kept waiting and waiting for Lila to pop up because I wanted to know more about this mysterious girl Cass was in love with. She is bossy and strong, not like those spineless ‘heroines’ I stumble upon. I kept hoping for something to happen, was ecstatic when things were going my way and then that ending killed me. I was killed. I yelled NO but things were the way they were. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone so I won’t say anything else.
If you’re still reading this review, please, pick up a copy of White Cat. You won’t regret it. I know there are different reviews floating around, from 5 stars to 2 but I thought it was so refreshing and different from most of young adult paranormal novels and you all should read it as soon as possible.
Basically, White Cat is about how Cassel Sharpe learns his entire life is a lie. And that’s actually a good plot. But the thing is, usually there’s a sense of redemption at the end, a moment where the main character comes to terms with the lies they’ve been told and moves on. That doesn’t happy in White Cat, and the final scene left a bitter aftertaste.
Yet this book has several good qualities, and the biggest is Black’s setting/world-building. In White Cat, a group of magically gifted people, “curse workers” have been made illegal in the US, so now magic has become a sort of organized crime operation. In my opinion, that’s really awesome, and definitely unique.
Black’s prose in White Cat was good, but not anything special. I think it got the job done and accurately portrayed the male perspective, but it wasn’t the sort I tend to get excited about.
Verdict: I’m not going to discount this series. White Cat is undeniably a good book, though the story isn’t something I’m very fond of. Holly Black did a very nice job in writing this, and I’m mildly interested to see what happens next. I think, though, that I’ll have to wallow in comfort reads for a while before I tackle Curse Workers again.
I offer up White Cat as evidence.
Holly Black and I have gone through the same dance I perform with most other authors. I pick up a book by her. I skim through it. I decide it Has Promise and carry it home with me, only to abandon it within the wobbling stack of books already beside my desk. (No, it doesn't look any better than last week.) Due to an impending fine/someone else actually wanting to pay attention to it/an Act of God, I'm forced to give it back to the library. Some days later, I return to said library, notice it and pick it up again.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
In this case, I was especially leery of White Cat because I've only once attained reader nirvana (or something close to it in the middle of a particularly loud and "swinging" wedding reception) with a sample of Black's writing - a piece in which a young Asian girl is forced to barter with an "evil" spirit in order to keep her sister from languishing away painfully due to unrequited love. Good stuff, really. But her faerie series just doesn't do it for me, so I wasn't quite sure if I'd like this any better.
Anyway, this time I decided I was going to sit down and give the first chapter a try - and then I ended up in the second chapter. And the third.
I finished the last chapter, closed the book, and decided I am not going out in public without gloves ever again.
Welcome to Cassel's world. Once you're in, Black makes sure you don't know which way to exit. You just hold on and clamp your eyes shut, and hope that at least by the end, you'll know your first name. This is the type of book that makes me want to write, simply to hit the same amount of sheer awesome on my own personal scale. Just so you know how quickly it hooked me.
So, forget my dramatics for a moment. Let's talk about Cassel. He's the type of guy who sits back and watches, observes, cases the joint before he makes a move. He's got a dead best friend (who he has vague memories of murdering, but has no idea how or why), two big brothers that pretty much treat him as a disposable pawn in an endless chess game for power, and a evilly crazy...or is that crazy evil...mom in jail. Also, he's not a Worker - in a world where people can crush your mind, break your bones and make you fall madly in love with an angel-faced sinner...all with the touch of a bare finger.
And he's having dreams about a haunting white cat, a cat that bites out his tongue, scratches at him and speaks in a familiar voice. Telling him things about himself that he's quite sure isn't true.
The supporting cast is as much a focus as Cassel himself. This book gives us a mafia world that Gabrielle Zevin only scratched upon within the pages of All These Things I've Done (which I relatively enjoyed - for me, but not as much as this). Everyone acts within character, you get what I mean? There's not a moment where the reader feels thrown off and goes, "Wait a minute. That type of person wouldn't do that."
Let me tell you...up until I read this book, I wouldn't be sure that an author could throw together mafia families, hereditary talents and hints of old fairytales together and get away with it (at least without sounding completely nutso and pretentious), but Black does it perfectly. There is hardly a hitch in the thread of the story. The story starts with a bang, but it doesn't go out with a whimper.
This is complete mind-bending storytelling at its best.
I'm not sure how many times I can say that without sounding completely nutso and pretentious myself.
One of the main bones I had to pick (and this is rather minor) was White Cat's category. In the inside of the book, it's classified as "Science Fiction". Mr. Scott Westerfield blurbed the back cover. That was enough to make me anticipate genetic engineering, mad inventions and lab-tech hijinks of all sort. What I did get, though, was something more along the lines of a world with a bit of fantasy within its ordinary foundation - special abilities, prophetic dreams.
Not the same thing, people.
Unless there's something I missed. It does happen, you know.
The only other thing is the unhappy ending. For Cassel, at least. Well, maybe it's not an unhappy ending for him as much as for me, because I'm all true love perseveres and the evil witch falls off a tower and happy-happy credits rolling as we exit the movie theater. Holly Black seems to function more realistically - the hero doesn't always get everything he wants. It happens. I know it does. But if you're expecting for everything to magically fall into place and for you to close the book with a satisfying sigh and a hand clutched to your heart with sheer joy and faith in humanity...please don't.
On the bright side, there are two more books to carve through, so I'm not completely writing the poor boy off. Authors can be merciful.
And everyone in general.
The rest of this series is on my automatic "to buy" list.
I love this book SO MUCH. It's a refreshingly unique premise. The world building is superb (as we've come to expect from Ms. Black). The stakes are high. And Cassel is a flawed, smart, dangerous, GOOD guy and living in his skin for the duration of this story is an adventure I'd willingly repeat any time.
This book really picks up and gets exciting towards the middle. By that point all the questions you have about 'workers' are pretty much answered. This book has so many unexpected twists. Right when you think that you know what is going on, what do you know, you really don't know what is going on. There are betrayals and deceit beyond what anybody could even fathom.
This book doesn't have a tremendous amount of romance but it has just the right amount to not subtract from the action and make the romance-lovers like myself pleased.
Holly Black obviously knows how to weave clever worlds and words that are so natural they could be real. There are a lot of instances, I've discovered, where withholding information from the reader does not work when it comes to suspense, but Holly Black does an excellent job with that. I found myself munching on my nails and wondering how in the world Cassel was going to get him out of certain situations. Cassel does some things that don't seem to make sense at the time, but then are later explained and I thought, "Ahhh. Clever boy."
I ended up staying up until 3 AM finishing this gripping tale and longing for the sequel.
The protagonist. I've always loved male protagonists because they have a darker and seemingly more realistic outlook on life. Cassel can't ever seem to keep his mouth closed even when he knows he needs to. He's clever and determined. He is a character very easy to sympathize with when you discover what he thinks he's done, what he really has done, and what he is going to do. I felt myself aching for the boy every step of the way.
The cons. They were clever, necessary, and amusing.
The twists. Need I say more?
GO OUT AND BUY THESE BOOKS! I found them totally amazing I want to say my most favorite books so far this year. Since Curse work good or bad is against the law the "workers" are now mobsters from crime families who do curse work on the black market. The story is set in NJ/NY and everybody has to wear gloves 24.7 since hands are such dangerous weapons and nobody knows who has the curse or not.
Philip is a luck worker, Barron is a memory worker, Grandpa is a death worker, mom is a emotions worker.... Then there is Cassel who's trying to be a good boy while doing the occasional con LOL The odds are stacked against him for sure... oh and he thinks he murdered his best friend with out knowing exactly what happened.. He is totally lovable! lol
These books have it all.. mystery, romance, friendship and a little violence fabulous entertaining reading read both books in 2days
Everything is not what is seems in Holly Blacks Curse Worker world
so you better watch your back because the cons are artfully cunning and
the characters are devilishly tricky.
So lets start
with a little summary of the world Holly has created. From what I
understood the curse worker world is just like ours except that some
people are born with special ability to work magic through their hands
and in one specifically mentions case through their feet after his hands
were cut off. It is not only customary to where gloves when out in
public but also completely and absolutely necessary in order to have a
peaceful society. Well as peaceful as possible considering this world is
full of magical beings and con artist who are always looking for a
mark. Since working magic is illegal most or all curse workers are
connected to one of the six mobster style families one way are another.
The six family names are Nonomura , Goldbloom, Volpe, Rice, Brennan (I
think this is an inside joke between Sara Rees Brennan and Holly since
in Saras book The Demons Lexicon one of her character is named Black
Arthur. I could be reading too much into and it could all be a
coincidence but it was fun to think about) , and the family that Cassel
is connected to the Zachorov.
In the Curse Worker
world , from what I can recall there are about seven kind of workers.
The luck worker (one who can bring good luck), death worker (can kill
with one touch) , body worker (do physical harm to a person with very
little effort) , memory worker (can change, erase or add memories),
dream worker (can enter and control your dreams), emotion worker (can
make you feel specific emotions) and the most unique, transformation
worker (one who can transform any object to another).
Sharpe is the main character and the book is written in his POV. He was
the only person with any kind of sympathy, guilt, or remorse in his
family and Im really glad I got to see this world through is eyes. He
is the youngest of three brothers and has always felt like an outsider
since she is the only one in the family who doesnt have any magic
ability. Philip is the oldest but certainly not the slyest of the
brothers. He is in a dysfunctional marriage to Maura and they have a
young son together. It seems like he truly tries to keep his family safe
and together after their fathers death but when you are in the mob
there is no real way to keep anyone safe. He is Anton's (Zachorovs
nephew) best friend and is considered an asset to the Zachorov family
because he is a physical worker. Barron is the middle brother and is
closest to Cassel. He also works for the Zachorov family and is a luck
worker. Shandra is Cassels mother and she is a emotional worker. She is
in jail for seducing a wealthy man and making him feel as if he was in
love with her. Philip is Cassel's dad. We don't find out much about him
other that he's either dead or disappeared. I have a suspicion we will
see him in the up coming books. Grandpa Desi is a death worker and he
too works for the Zachorov family. Cassel ends up living with him for a
little while after he gets kicked out of school. Lila (Lillian) is
Cassels best friend and love interest. She is also the daughter and
heir to the Zachorov family. She is a worker but Im not going to tell
what kind. You will have to find that out all on your own.
I liked about the book is that is always has you guessing. Its never
boring, well written and pretty easy to follow. I found the curse worker
world fascinating with tons of possibility. The Con as a way of means
to an end is a very interesting concept that. One that I myself do not
have the brains for and hope that I have never fell victim to.
I didnt like about the book is how short it was. I didnt want it to
end and I was left with so many question. The fact that Cassel doesnt
get his revenge in this book really sucked. I'm really hoping those who
did him wrong will get their dues in the next books. And the biggest
disappointment was that there was not enough romance. Yes, there were
two beautiful women in Cassels life but one seemed confused and distant
and the other indecisive and cruel. I wish he had someone to help him
through this time in his life. I know this book is not meant to be a
romance novel but I was still hoping for a little more luvin in the poor
Overall White Cat was an addicting and
intriguing ride and the Curse Worker world is unique and mesmerizing. A
world that I cant wait to read more of.
all my excitement about Holly Black's new series The Curseworkers, White Cat COMPLETELY disappointed me.
I was let down by everything about this book, like the slow-moving plot
and boring characters. Reading 20 pages felt like reading 100 pages. I
can't even count how many times I yawned and almost fell asleep.
beginning was strong, and I thought the book was going to be great. But
then it just got slower and slower, and sloooower. I had only 70 pages
left, but I couldn't put myself through anymore, so I quit reading.
love the cover, but that's about the only thing I liked. I would advise
anyone to not spend precious, hard-earned money for this book. You will
I loved Holly's book Tithe, wasn't happy with Valiant, and didn't bother picking up Ironside. After trudging through White Cat, I can only think that her
writing is slipping.