Title: White Cat
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
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.
Before reading this book, the only books by Holly Black that I’ve read are the Spiderwick Chronicles, which I absolutely adore, but are more geared at younger children than teenagers my age. I started reading the first of her Modern Faerie Tales, Tithe, perhaps, but I stopped reading a few chapters in. Despite my spotty track record with Ms. Black, though, I decided to give this book a chance because it sounded so interesting. And I am glad I gave this book a chance, because I absolutely loved it.
This is a really interesting premise, a bit of a mob start with a paranormal twist. I especially love how Black twisted the history of the workers into actual history. It’s an interesting idea that the mob families really got their start during the Prohibition era, much like actual mob families got their start because they used bootlegging to build their underground empires. So many stories these days have interesting concepts but their backstories just aren’t detailed enough to make the stories believable, if you can find magic believable. And, in this case, the idea of workers seems perfectly plausible.
Many people would also be turned on by the very low amount of romance included in the story. Sure, there’s still romance – this is a YA book, after all, and a little bit of romance always manages to grab our attention – but the focus of the story is far from being on the romance. And the potential love interest isn’t a girl that the protagonist, Cassel, meets in the first few chapters and instantly falls in love with, but I can’t give much more away, you’ll just have to trust me on that.
Overall, I’m so glad that I decided to pick this book up, and then I got even more excited when I found out that the next book was coming soon (in fact, it comes out tomorrow, April 5). If you want to find a book that has paranormal aspects mixed in with a fairly realistic setting, with a bit of romance but not an emphasis on that, then this is definitely the greatest book to read. Or, if you just want a good book…
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars