Saturday, May 14, 2011

Red Glove by Holly Black

Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe's world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else. That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she's human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila's been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila's love is as phony as Cassel's made-up memories, then he can't believe anything she says or does.
When Cassel's oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can't trust anyone—least of all, himself?
Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

This book is the second in the Curse Workers trilogy (the first is White Cat). I enjoyed White Cat, but there were a few aspects of it that didn’t sit well with me. The premise was fresh and interesting enough for me to want to read the next book, but when I sat down with it I didn’t have very high expectations. I was afraid of seeing those same elements again, and I was worried that this middle book would, at best, muddle through.

I was wrong. Red Glove is better than White Cat. This doesn’t happen often, and it thrilled me.

The story hits the ground running, with very little reminders as to who was who or what had happened in the previous book (this can be both a blessing and curse—no pun intended). I had to wrack my brain for a bit to remember the basics of White Cat, but, once I did, everything fell into place nicely. If it’s been a while since you read White Cat, it might be beneficial to skim it to refresh your memory before beginning Red Glove.

Black has given us an entirely new story, with a fresh conflict and everything. I love the way she handles the situation between Cassel and Lila, the slow progress they make, and the palpable tension from the circumstances. Everything between them is strained in a fabulous way, and it makes perfect sense as to why. I loved the twist at the end, and I’m looking forward to seeing how their situation resolves in the final book.

Cassel’s character is clearer in this installment. I had some trouble with him in the first book, which is probably because of the nature of White Cat’s plot, but Red Glove allows him to explore who he is. I love the concept of blowback, and Cassel’s blowback is unique and vivid. It makes me wonder what continued used of his Curse will do to him.

I liked the conflict between Cassel and his brother, Barron. The resolution between the two at the end of White Cat was the perfect bandaid on a gushing artery, and that bandaid gets ripped off in Red Glove (as we knew it would). I was looking forward to how that conflict would get resolved, and I didn’t completely see the twist coming. Just parts of it. I’m itching to find out how that’s going to blow up (because I know it will) and who gets caught in the shrapnel.

The only thing that could have been a bit stronger was the owner of the red glove. That wasn’t really a surprise, but it was handled well. Overall, this is a quick and twisted story where no one is trustworthy, not even Cassel. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Note: Blogger apparently had some issues this week and many thursday posts couldn't be restored, so I'm reposting this. Though I'm bummed that all comments were lost... :(


Sherrie Petersen said...

I'm actually glad to hear this because my reaction to White Cat was similar to yours. Now I'm interested to read this :)

Kelly Hashway said...

Oh, you just reminded me that I haven't read White Cat yet. Ugh! So many books and so little time.

Tabitha said...

Sherrie - I was pleasantly surprised about Red Glove. White Cat didn't really grab me, not all the way. The beginning put a big damper on my enjoyment of the story, but the end was better. Red Glove is more like the end of White Cat, if that helps you. Though I do recommend brushing up on the characters and basic plot of White Cat, because there aren't any reminders in Red Glove.

Kelly - so, so true! My TBR pile falleth over... :)

Kelly Hashway said...

I'm reposting my comment since blogger ate your post. You reminded me that I still need to read White Cat. I never seem to get caught up on my TBR list.

cleemckenzie said...

Thanks for the post, Tabitha. And if you lost a post when Blogger fizzled, you can get it back by subscribing to your own blog on Google Reader. It should be there.

Unknown said...

It sounds great. It's a shame about Blogger - I lost comments on a post of mine that went up on Thursday, too. Never mind, it's quite extraordinary that it works so efficiently, usually.

S (Book Purring) said...

I have been skeptical about this series, I haven't read anything by Holly Black I may check this out. Thanks for the review ;)