The Compulsive Reader: White Cat by Holly Black

Monday, June 7, 2010

White Cat by Holly Black

Cassel lives in a world where curse workers can alter your emotions, luck, memories, dreams, and well-being by simply touching you. It's a dangerous ability, which is why everyone wears gloves and curse working is illegal, and those who do possess the ability are criminals and con artists. Cassel is an outsider in his family of criminals for two reasons: he doesn't possess the ability to work curses, and he killed his friend Lila three years ago and doesn't remember doing it. He's been attempting to fly under the radar at his normal boarding school, but when a particularly vivid dream has him sleepwalking and chasing a mysterious white cat, he begins to question what really happened to Lila, and discovers that his family is hiding something big from him.

White Cat is an excellent book set in a dark, gritty, and imaginative world with many delicious twists and turns. Black is an exceedingly clever writer and will keep readers rapt, wondering where she'll go next and who can be trusted. Cassel is the best sort of narrator: resourceful, sarcastic, and determined, yet he still makes mistakes and sometimes allows his pride to get the best of him. He also is fascinating in that trust is a large concern for him. He claims he’s not like the rest of his family, but yet, like them, he has issues with trusting and feels compelled to lie in order to be self-sufficient—so much so that lying is like a second nature to him. Still, his journey from ignorance to the terrible truth that his family is keeping from him is entertaining and ends up far from where readers would expect.

Black balances everything perfectly--family dynamics, secrets, betrayal, the mystery of Lila's death, Cassel's school and friends, and his feelings of helplessness. Each element of the story is complete and well-developed. And though the truth revealed at the climax of the book is stunning, when looking back readers will see that Black left a good amount of little clues and hints and support Cassel's revelation and convince readers. Everything adds up nicely, and Black’s conclusion is frustrating and exciting, and will lead to plenty of drama in book two, which will be very welcome after the very open ending of White Cat.

Cover Comments: I love this cover. Normally, I think that the black, red, and white color scheme is overdone, but this manages to be edgy and dangerous, which is what the Curseworkers are all about--fantastic!

ARC received from publisher.


Mrs. DeRaps said...

Awesome review. This sounds like a must-read. I'm going to see how much I have left in my petty cash fund tomorrow--Maybe I will own this soon!

Alison Can Read said...

I've read several reviews of this book. I wasn't that interested at first, but every review I read intrigues me more. After reading yours, I put the book on hold at the library. Thanks!

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly Book Reviews said...

I just finished this book but have yet to decide how I feel about it. There is something about Black's writing that bothers me, though I have yet to figure out what that is. But yet the story's idea is so captivating. Anyway my messed up mind and I thank you for the honest reviews.

Rhiannon said...

I really enjoyed this too. The layering of mystery seems unfinished to me, I suspect the rug to be pulled out from under us again in Red Glove.
I've linked to your review in mine of the same here: http://www.thediaryofabookworm.com/2010/09/white-cat-by-holly-black-review.html