Thursday, July 29, 2010
The White Cat by Holly Black
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.
I’ve really enjoyed Holly Black’s other books, The Spiderwick Chronicles and her Tithe trilogy. And the premise of this book sounded incredibly interesting. I love intricate plots where you have to figure out who’s conning who and what the fallout will be as a result. So I was really looking forward to this book.
I enjoyed it, pretty much. It was difficult to get into at first because the pacing was very slow, and the writing wasn’t up to the standard of Holly’s previous books. After the first third, though, both of these aspects improved drastically.
I loved the whole idea of ‘curse working,’ and how everyone has to wear gloves. Removing one’s gloves is considered a shockingly intimate gesture (as depicted in the playboy-type pictures Cassel briefly encounters). The emphasis put on the gloves was an excellent reminder of how different Cassel’s world is from ours. I would have liked to see more of those differences, though. I also would have liked to know more of how the mafia works. Is it like prohibition, or something else?
The discrimination aspect to the story wasn’t as original as I’d hoped. The whole concept of curse workers registering themselves was explored in X-Men, so I was hoping for a different twist on this. Perhaps there will be more on this in future books.
The best part of this story is the last third, when Cassel finally realizes what’s really going on and who the real enemy is. He deals with it in a very clever way, which I’m guessing will come back to bite him later. This part is what has intrigued me enough to want to read more.
Overall, this is not Holly’s best work, but the concept has kind of hooked me. I’ll have to read further in the series before I’ll feel comfortable recommending it, though.
Labels: Books I've Learned From