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White Cat by Holly Black

White Cat (Curse Workers, Book 1)White Cat by Holly Black
Review copy provided by publisher.

PJVs QUICKIE POV: A different take on magic, Holly Black wove a very compelling and surprisingly believable tale of black magic and crime families. My expectations were high leading into White Cat, and Black did not disappoint. Her characters were richly developed and the back-story well depicted and portrayed. White Cat spun a tale that had me engrossed from start to finish. This wasn’t a cuddly, romantic little YA novel though, and it’s sharp edges had me enjoying the ride even more.

REVIEW: The world of White Cat is set in an alternative reality, where magic workers, or what are called Curse Workers can lay hands upon someone and manipulate them. Whether they can manipulate their luck, their emotions, memories, or even transform them, depends on the worker. Luck workers are the most common, Transformation workers the most rare. The world wears gloves, because a bare hand can end your life...if you run into a Death Worker.

Cassel is from a long legacy of workers. His mother is in jail from an “Assault” that she did during a con. His brothers work for a crime family that employes workers to do their dirty work. Cassel isn’t a worker though, but the criminal gene does run strong within him. So much so, that at 14 he killed. He doesn’t even remember doing it, only that his best friend ended up dead and that some part of him enjoyed it.

This novel tasted like a Scorsese film. Gritty and real, it spread open a vile little view of black magic and shook it in your face until you became comfortable with it and kind of fell in love with Cassel and his neurosis. There were slight hints at romantic interludes, but personally I feel Cassel has to sort himself out before he finds his soulmate. Which is why I want to beat his mother with a baseball bat. Gotta love those crazy interfering ex-con parents.

A great read for fans for YA. If you are in a mood to step away from the cuddly werewolves and sex kitten witches... you might give White Cat a whirl.

RECOMMENDATIONS: There is a more mature theme to this novel, so I recommend it for older teens, 14+. Fans of Beautiful Creatures, The Iron Series by Julie Kagawa and grittier YAs like the Wicked Lovely series should enjoy.

Discussions questions from

1. Blacks characters pay a price for being powerful curse workers and experience a phenomenon called "blowback" whenever they worked someone. If you had a superpower but knew by using it you would experience a crippling side effect would you still use it?

Yup. Always wanted superpowers.

2. Family plays an important role in White Cat (Curse Workers) -- who did you like the most or the least in Cassel's family and why ??

I didn't like any of them and I think Cassel should say "Asta le pasta" to the entire clan.

3. What did you think about the entire world that Holly Black built? The gloves, the curses? Can you imagine a world like this where an uncovered hand could be a dangerous weapon?

I think Black's world was just crazy believable. It was a new spin on witchcraft and the repercussions were well thought out.

4. With family like this who needs enemies right? Is blood thicker than water? Or in this case should Cassel think about getting a name change and moving far far away from his familial bonds?

Cassel should change his name to Smith and move to like Idaho.

5. Do you think this book is a good set up for a sequel? If so, make your predictions.

I think if I'm not mistaken this is a trilogy. Red Glove is the second in this series.  Probably going to deal with his new found "love" and the release of his mother, which I'm sure will play havoc with his life.  Not to mention the discovery of his own powers...

Spoiler Question:

What did you think about Cassel's mother and the curse she worked in the last pages of the book? Cassel finally thinks he is getting some love...and wham-O!

I really wanted to beat the mom in the head.


Anonymous said...

Those D questions.....Im seriously giving you a hysterical award.....:D I wanted to beat the mom in the head as well...........

John Smith said...

Sounds interesting

Savannah said...

Ugh! I know. I wanted to hit the mother in the head too. I knw she did it out of love but its not real. But in all, I loved this book!!

Lily Michelon Rosenthal said...

I loved White Cat!

Idaho would probably be a sound choice.

And like everyone else, I agree about the mom. Who does that? Really?

Liviania said...

My review definitely addresses my feelings on the ending. I can't wait for Red Glove!

Trini said...

OMG yes I wanted to choke his mother. WTH did she so that for. UGH! I'm so nervous to see how Lilly is going to react when she comes to her sense. It will not be a pretty sight. Great review!


Melissa said...

I enjoyed this book. I'm curious as to how this is going to play out in a sequel.

misha1989 said...

Its time I read this book. I can't resist it any longer.
I just started my own blog. Please stop by if you can. Thank you


Barbara said...

I so need to read this book. Sure I don't have an actual list but I guess I'm long overdue to remedy that.

Lily Child said...

Fantastic review! I really enjoyed this one myself! I agree...Black creates a gritty, real world that is highly believable! :) said...
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Diva's Bookcase said...

I have got to get this book. I've read a couple of reviews for it and all are great. Going on my Wishlist!

Emily said...

I think the final showdown with his mom kind of illustrated for him how addicted his family is to the con. I think the heartbreaking part of it all for me was that his mom honestly believed that she was helping the situation instead of making it worse (at least, it seems like worse now. I think Lily is savvy enough to understand the score if Cassel explained it when the curse wore off- true feelings may be lurking in there too!)

So glad you enjoyed this book! :D

Tara SG (25 Hour Books) said...

I think the first review I read for this was a bad one and so I didn't look into it again. Perhaps I need to rethink that and add it to my TBR :)

The Bookish Type said...

This was a really fun review to read! White Cat sounds like a fascinating and refreshing new read. I'll definitely have to pick this one up! Thanks so much for the great review!

Btw, I also love how you have your "quickie" reviews, for those who don't have the patience to read more than a few sentences lol

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