Book Review: White Cat (Curse Workers #1) by Holly Black

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.

White Cat was a little bit of a slow starter for me, like so many first-in-a-series books.  I've always heard good things about Holly Black, and when Natalie came back from the Smart Chicks Kick It signing with White Cat, she had me read it first (to make sure she'd like it).  That's how we operate---she finds new books and I'm her gateway to four and five star reads. 

About halfway through the book, the story got so intense I couldn't put White Cat down.  The combination of Cassel running cons, the back-stabbing family members, Cassel's guilt over Lila, and the truth behind Lila's death made for a unique, surprisingly intense story.  I also really enjoyed the hoarder aspect.  There were a lot of really well-fleshed out details in this book, which made the book feel much smarter than many YA reads.

It's rare that I enjoy a first-person narration from a male perspective as much as I enjoyed White Cat.  I loved the curse-worker basis of the story.  Curse workers are both feared and revered by the rest of the world and everyone in Black's world wears gloves to protect themselves from curse workers who work curses through touch.  The addition of the illicit photographs featuring bare-handed women was a nice touch. 

The ending left me wanting more, and I'm really looking forward to Red Glove, book two in the series.  I think I'll read Holly Black's other books in the meantime--her writing style is smart and intriguing and I need more!

Just One Gripe:
The slow start.  I kept putting the book down waiting for more to happen.

The Best Thing About This Book:
All of the intricate details were pulled together to make an excellent plot, pacing, and unique elements.

Appropriate for a younger audience:

Characters: 4/5
Plot: 4/5
Setting/Imagery: 4/5
Originality: 5/5
Ending: 4/5
Total Score:  21/25


  1. I loved White Cat as well. I can't wait to read Red Glove. The ending for great as well. Nice review :)

  2. I'm so glad that you liked it, Kelli! It's definitely a slow starter, but once the mystery aspect is more defined the books does get better. I loved how flawed the characters are, including Cassel. The ending with took me by surprise.

  3. I loved this book. Great review!

  4. Great review! I wasn't sure that this book would be for me, but maybe....! Hope you girls are doing well! :)

  5. I loved this book. I don't remember it being a slow starter but don't remember being entranced immediately either. I really liked Cassel. Actually, it is often a relief to read a boy's POV.

  6. Hmmm... I've actually never read anything by Holly Black. (Shocking, I know!) Maybe this will be my first from her? Thanks for the review!

  7. Great review. I've often wondered about this one :)

  8. A 21 is still a pretty good score.
    Will think it over ... ahh heck will add it to overflowing TBR list :)

  9. LOL! Natalie totally uses you! So cute.

    I still haven't read anything by Holly Black, but I've heard great things too. I also picked up White Cat at Smart Chicks, but haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

    I'm glad the story got better for you. I'll have to move it up on my reading list.

  10. @Missie It's a really great relationship! I like to think of Kelli as my filter and I am her compass :) I really need to have a shirt made that says "Book Snob"

    Wasn't Holly Black just awesome!

  11. I just loved this book, and I am ready for RED GLOVE.


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