Title: White Cat
Series: Curse Workers, #1
Author: Holly Black
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: May 4th, 2010
Length: 310 pages | 6 hours 43 minutes
Source: Gifted to me ages ago by RJ of RJ Does Books
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 criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn’t got magic, 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.
Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself 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. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to outcon the conmen.
I have to get this out of the way right away- part of my not enjoying this book more than I did is because the narrator is not good. He’s a famous actor, but his idea of pacing is galloping at breakneck speed without any differentiation between interior and exterior voice for the MC, and without differentiation between character voices. So mostly it sounded unemotional and was confusing to listen to. If you read it, don’t listen to the audiobook.
OK, now that’s out of the way. White Cat had an interesting world concept (magic is real, requires the laying on of hands, and is banned as universally evil) and an interesting MC concept (Cassel is part of a family of curseworker con artists, and he’s the only one without magic). Ultimately, it failed to engage me emotionally.
Cassel is snarky but without compelling vulnerability. Sure, his quips and vague, unambitious life are amusing to a point, but when the stakes got high, I got bored. Literally every other character in here is barely developed (except maybe his grandad, who is a bit of a mystery) and I found myself struggling to care. Probably the most interesting thing was the dynamic of their jailed con artist mom with her kids- believably manipulative and a bit broken. But that only shows up, really, in the final chapter of the book.
My lasting impression was ‘meh’, so I won’t be continuing the series.