Genre: YA/Urban Fantasy.
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books.
Favorite character: Cassel.
Favorite quote: “…she tastes like every dark thought I ever had."
All in all: Loved it! Clever and intriguing.
Synopsis: 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 mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, 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.
Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts 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, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.
Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love — or death — and your dreams might be more real than your memories.~Goodreads.com
I loved this book. Loved, loved, loved.
Holly Black, in my opinion, is a wonderful writer. Her descriptions are imaginative and the details help further bring her stories to life. The plot is complicated and intricate, but the writing lets you navigate through without falling. Yes, you might stumble a little bit since not everything is transparent and laid out right in front of you. But I was confident from reading Tithe, that the events would be clarified as the novel progressed. Reading White Cat, I was frequently excited and in a constant state of anxiety because I was so afraid for Cassel and what would happen to him.
Black is also clever at rewriting history and our popular culture. It is done with subtle sentences, dialogue and memories so I knew almost intuitively about “workers” and “families” and the political and social ramifications of magic work. The framework is similar to crime families and that is what magic workers are considered, so it is easy for someone in our culture to have a frame of reference.
I love Cassel. And not in the “I want to jump his bones” way. Maybe I’m getting old, but he brought out a nurturing instinct in me. I felt bad for him and I wanted to take care of him. I wanted to let him know that there are people in the world he can rely on and he shouldn’t be so closed off. However, it appears he has these issues for good reason. His mother is in jail and the rest of his family are “workers” and it becomes apparent they are keeping secrets. Events are occuring right under Cassel's nose that he can’t figure out. He is tied up in a mystery and a memory from long ago that is having repercussions in the present. He finally decides he needs to figure out what it is.
Cassel is such a likeable character and so enjoyable to read. He gets into trouble, he has questionable habits and he has trouble trusting. In other words, he is so real. He is also unflinchingly honest and extremely clever. Perhaps his whole family has magic at their fingertips, but Cassel uses his brains, street smarts and inherited knowledge of the “con” to figure things out. Maybe because he doesn’t rely on magic he develops his brain in a way that his other family members don’t. I love the small steps he takes to gain friends, to trust. I love the larger steps he takes to find out the truth about his past and about himself.
I was never bored, whether Cassel was trying to deal with his family life, his school life or his personal life. It was all entertaining. The themes and plotlines in this book were so multilayered. It has to do with secrets, family, friendships and most of all trust.
***This last paragraph may be a bit spoilery: I can’t say too much about the ending without giving it away. But just let me say I was mad. Not because it was poorly written or didn’t work for the story, to be quite honest, it actually fits and was an great twist. But I was mad for Cassel and I want to kill someone or at least shake them so their teeth knocks around in their skull. I know that is the 1st of a trilogy, so I’m hoping Cassel perseveres, gets what he really wants and finds happiness.
5 out of 5 stars. With an extra star thrown in.