Monday, May 02, 2011

White Cat by Holly Black - A Mini Review

UK Cover 
Cassel is cursed. Cursed by the memory of the fourteen year old girl he murdered. Life at school is a constant trial. Life at home even worse. No-one at home is ever going to forget that Cassel is a killer. No-one at home is ever going to forget that he isn't a magic worker.
Cassel's family are one of the big five crime families in America. Ever since magic was prohibited in 1929 magic workers have been driven underground and into crime. And while people still need their touch, their curses, their magical killings, their transformations, times have been hard. His granddad has been driven to drink, his mother is in prison and his brothers detest him as the only one of their family who can't do magic.
But there is a secret at the centre of Cassel's family and he's about to inherit it. It's terrifying and that's the truth.
The White Cat is a stunning novel of a world changed by magic. In this world only 1% of the population can work magic but they have the power of nightmares.

The extraordinary new adult fantasy of magic in our world and the price we pay for it by the author of THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES

I just quickly had to share some thoughts about White Cat by Holly Black with you.

When the proof first came in last year, I dropped everything and motored through the first hundred pages, reading at top speed and not really taking in what I was reading.  I realised I was being really dumb, doing this.  Spoiling the book for myself by reading too fast, being to greedy, instead of enjoying myself.

I set it aside and subsequently read it over several sittings in mass paperback form, which was so great, a few weeks ago.

Cassel is a great character - far more innocent than he would like to think and portray to the world.  He thinks he knows what the score is all the time and that he doesn't get to be conned by any cons.  In the end it is those closest to him who has been working him.

As realisation dawns, Cassel really grows rapidly as a character and he tries to do the best he can in a  crappy situation.  He comes through on the other side, a bit battered and scarred but knowing better and probably a bit more world-wise than before.

Holly Black is such a great writer - like thousands of others really enjoyed her Tithe novels and subsequently adored the Spiderwick books. (Mine are all signed and I even have a glow in the dark Spiderwick poster!)  In White Cat you can tell how much Ms. Black has matured as she comes across as at ease in her craft as both a writer and storyteller - because one does not necessarily mean you are the other.

There is just enough information about the world-building in White Cat to make readers realise that this is not quite our world, yet there are obvious similarities.  Again, this is something I liked.  Each bit of information she gave us about the laws and how workers are exploited / portrayed in the media, the lore and stories about them, gets added to this scrap book in your mind and slowly you build up this image of the world Cassel lives in.  It's maybe not the nicest place in the world and I can't help but feel it has this Depression Era feel to it, in my mind at least.  With colours in sepia and shadows darker than dark.  I am very keen to see what happens in The Curse Workers Book 2: Red Gloves out later this year.

White Cat is being marketed as an adult book (with a release later this year from Orion's YA imprint Indigo) with a teen protagonist.

US Cover 


Mari - Escape In A Book said...

Wonderful review :) I had no idea White Cat was being marketed as an adult book, but then again I read both adult and YA novels so it really doesn't matter.

serendipity_viv said...

I loved White Cat but then I might be biased as I am a big Holly Black fan! I can't wait until Red Glove comes out.

Bethany said...

Oooh! This sounds interesting! Not my usual kind of read...but very interesting! And the UK cover looks so much nicer than the US one, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

ANOTHER one to add to my list! This looks interesting. I love Black's protagonists and look forward to getting to know this one. Thanks for the great review!