September 9, 2013

White Cat by Holly Black

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:50 am by suebe2

White Cat
Book 1 in the Curse Workers
by Holly Black
(Simon & Schuster)

Cassel almost never takes his gloves off even around his family.

Cassel lives in our world, or at least what our world would be like if there were people who could do magic.  And I don’t mean pull the rabbit out of a hat slight of hand.  I mean cause people to dream, and possible sleep walk to their deaths.  Erase people’s memories, causing them to forget or planting substitute memories.  The rarest ability of all is the ability to change something, or someone, into something else.

That’s why the gloves.  You have to make skin to skin contact by hand to curse someone — because although these gifts can and are used for good, the fear that it could be used for bad is just too strong.  Curse work.

Most workers grow adept at hiding their abilities, especially since using them is illegal.  Not that Cassel is a worker.  Everyone else in his family is but not Cassel.  He has other things to hide even if he can’t wipe them from his memory.  Again and again, his mind drifts back to the night he came too standing over the body of his best friend.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, he’s holding the bloody knife and . . . he’s happy about it.  What kind of a monster is he?

These are the thoughts that separate him from his fellow students until the night he wakes up standing on his dorm roof.  He doesn’t know how he got there or even what path he took but the fact that he might have sleepwalked gets him expelled from school.  After all, he might have been worked.

Out of school until he can finagle his way back in, Cassel has the time to poke around and what he discovers changes his whole world.  Because he has been worked. And he has killed.  But not in the ways he remembers.  And now he questions how much of what he remembers even happened.

This isn’t a new book — it came out in 2010 — but it is an amazing piece of young adult literature.  And it is young adult.  This isn’t the magical world of Harry Potter — not that I’m panning Potter but this magic is very different.  Every time a worker uses their gift, they suffer blow back.  If they use it for good, the blow back can be good, but if they use it for ill?  Unpleasant things happen, especially if you’re a death worker.

Not that this story is all dark.  Black has worked an amazing amount of humor into this story.  While some of it is still quite dark, it does lighten the overall mood.  And Cassel does discover that he has some really good friends.

This is a real page turner and readers will be rooting for Cassel as he struggles to figure out just what has happened and where he fits in to this incredibly complicated world.



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