Review: White Cat by Holly Black

White Cat (Curse Workers, #1)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.

Words cannot describe how much I really wanted to love this book. I loved Holly Black's modern faerie story and didn't think twice about grabbing this when I saw it on Read It Swap It. I picked it as soon as I'd finished the book I was reading and plunged right into it, hoping and hoping that I would love it. I didn't love it.

I understand that it is difficult for an author to move from one thing to another, Holly Black has recieved amazing praise for her Modern faerie series (Tithe, Valiant, Ironside) as well as her joint work on the The Spiderwick Chronicles with Tony DiTerlizzi and both are sort of faerie fantasy, it was a big step for her to move onto the Curse Worker series, and I can't explain why but it just didn't really absorb me.

I think my main issue with this book was that it took me a day to read. Usually, I can get through three books a day, but I had to force myself to read this book, so many times I wanted to throw it across the room and start something new but I forced myself through it. There were three main reasons why I couldn't get into this book; The writing was almost boring, i couldn't really get amazed or absorbed by any part of it, I was confused at many parts of the book because I didn't understand really what was going on and lastly, the story was very predictable.

Another reason I didn't really like this book is the main character. Cassel is our narrator and he is a 17 year old boy, unfortunately, his narration didn't really sound like a boy, I thought he sounded very feminine at some points which is very off putting, as well as this, I didn't really like the character of Cassel much, I tried and tried to like him, but it just seemed as though he couldn't really do anything apart from figure things out; it just seemed like events were happening around him and he was just an observer.

The book has a fantastic premise and I applaud Black for the creativity, the idea of combining the fantasy with the crime circle and the way she planned everything out is amazing and I think, as a plan it must have looked absolutely fantastic, unfortunately the execution leaves a lot to be desired.

I may seem like I am being overly critical so I'm also going to outline some good things that I noticed; The characters are well developed, I've covered Cassel but there are his brothers, who really seem multi-dimensional, like the enemies buy also the friends, Lila is developed as a bit of a errr... promiscuous female without Black ever straight out calling her one, Sam and Daneca are lovely and I wish we'd seen more of Cassel's mum. The story offers a few good twists and turns and can even con the reader into believing the story, the book gets marginally better in the last 150 pages and the ending gives a shock to the reader.

All in all, White Cat is a slow read but offers a very unique story with some good characters.

Overall rating: D+

Stand alone/series: First in the Curse Worker series
Published: May 4th 2010
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 320
Book obtained via: Read It, Swap It


  1. It's definitely different strokes for different folks. I had the opposite reaction: couldn't stand Holly Black's fae books, but loved both Cassel Sharpe's stories :))

  2. I haven't read the fae books since I was around 14 so I may be remembering them to be better, but I really couldn't get into White Cat :(


Tell me your thoughts on the post, the book, the world. I like volcanoes, feel free to tell me about volcanoes.