Thursday, January 5, 2012

Book Review : White Cat, Curse Workers Book 1

“Marks forget that whenever something's too good to be true, that's because it's a con.” 
- White Cat, Holly Black

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. . .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. 

I first came across Holly Black while reading Cassandra Clare. Clare and Black are often on tour together and even edit each other's work. Plus characters from Black's Valiant series appear in The Mortal Instruments and Jace Wayland is even mentioned in this book.

So, when I picked up White Cat in audiobook form I expected to find something similar to the Mortal Instruments--White Cat was anything but that. Instead, it is a high-octane fantasy heist novel sprinkled with family drama.

Cassel Sharpe comes from a family of curseworkers, individuals who have the special ability to "curse" others in things such as luck and death. In a world where curse working and crime go hand-in-hand, dark family secrets rise to the surface and Cassel's life is turned on its head. Soon he finds himself caught up in the biggest con-game of his life, all because of one white cat.

Black does an amazing job of crafting the world in which Cassel lives. She creates a slight alternative history that does not overbear the plot or force itself into the setting of the novel, it flowed so naturally, it makes you think it could have actually happened. She allows the characters to speak and define themselves. We get to know them for what they do and say not because of shimmering eyes or perfect hair.

The novel does follow a few cliches associated with con jobs, which includes trying to misdirect the audience to give an exciting pay-off. While this might work on TV it made the end of the novel confusing and a caused a few plot holes to stick out.

The novel does go a bit dark and there were a few nightmare fueled moments, but you can usually catch them in time to glance over it.

I really liked the audiobook for this, it's a short one with only 6 discs, but Jesse Eisenberg gives a great performance. I would definitely recommend it for someone who wants to get into audio books.

If you are a fan of heist dramedys like Leverage, Ocean's Thirteen or The Italian job I think you will enjoy this book. I also found this book to be very similar to All These Things I've Done with the mention of crime families, alternate history and family drama.

 For all you Holly Black fans, is there some inside joke about coffee in Holly Black novels ? Because she mentions coffee in atleast every chapter and there is a picture of coffee on her website? Anyone?

Curse Workers 2, Red Glove is out now, but this story could certainly stand on its own.

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