The Curse Workers series By Holly Black
White Cat – Red Glove – Black Heart
Author: Holly Black
Publisher:Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy
Cassel Sharp comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and curse workers. But Cassel doesn’t have a bit of magic, so he’s the outsider of the bunch, a straight kid in a crooked family. If you ignore the fact that he killed his best friend and the girl he loved, Lila, three years ago. Since then Cassel has been working hard at blending in, but when he begins to have strange dreams about a white cat that cause him to start sleepwalking his normal status is in jeopardy. He notices other strange things as well, including the strange behavior of his two brothers, they are hiding things from him and people around him are losing their memories. He starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas and a plan to con the conmen.
After flying through this series I’m convinced Holly Black was a con artist in a former life. At times I really felt like I was reading How to Successfully Be A Con Artist 101, it was that good!
I was really surprised at how much I loved this series. The summery didn’t quite reel me at first but It intrigued me enough to put it on my TBR and I ended up finding the audiobooks at the Friends of the Library sale earlier this year. The audiobooks are narrated by Jesse Eisenberg and he did an AMAZING job. * side note, audio book narration can really make or break a book. Example: Jim Dale – Harry Potter series = AMAZING! Roy Dotrice – A Song of Ice and Fire = Yawn.* The way he voice Cassel and just the nature of Cassel himself reminded me a lot of Eisenberg’s character J. Daniel Atlas in the movie Now You See Me. Since the first Curse Workers novel White Cat came out in 2010 and Now You See Me came out in 2013 I wonder if Eisenberg used Cassel’s character as inspiration for Daniel Atlas , because they are both con artists, have a way of hatching grand schemes that take a great amount of planning and they both live in a world of magic! Maybe wistful thinking..
Anyways, I love this world that Holly Black has carved out for us. Cassel Sharp comes from a family of curse workers, people who are born “Hyperbathygammic”with an ability to “work” others with just a touch of their bare hand. There are seven types of Workers-luck, dreams, physical, emotion, memory, death and transformation. These abilities don’t come cheap, each time a work works they experience blowback, a side effect that’s different for each working type. All a worker needs to manipulate these things is contact between hand and bare skin, that is why people must all wear leather gloves. Not wearing gloves outside your home is seen as an attempt at working, which is illegal, and punishable by law. I loved how we are introduced to this world. We meet Cassel as he is sleepwalking on the roof of his dorm. Since sleepwalking is not a typical past time for him he assumes someone has dream worked him. That is a normal thing to assume because that is how this world functions and has always functioned, there have always been people who have worked. There is even an alternate history with worker camps similar to the Japanese American internment camps of WWII. While in these camps mob families were formed and many workers chose to ally with them. Cassel’s family worked for one of these Mob families, the Zacharovs. It just fascinated me. I wonder what kind of worker I would be?
The characters were fantastic and well rounded. You’re give an in to a crime family and despite their manipulating, conning shadiness you find yourself actually caring at least a little for each character. Cassel was a refreshing main character. It tends to be very female heavy in the YA genre. Not that I’m complaining, I usually tend to gravitate towards female leads, but Cassel’s unique story make it worth stepping out of my comfort zone. Growing up in a family of mobster con artists really reflects on his personality, without even meaning to he is always thinking of the con, he even works as a bookie at his richy private school and skews the odds in his favor. I loved seeing his relationship with his roommate Sam and new friend Danaca evolve throughout the series. Cassel doesn’t believe he needs firends, he starts off White Cat barely on speaking terms with Sam and avoiding Danaca and by the end they are helping him set up someone for murder. No joke, you will just have to read it. His relationship with Baron was also a highlight. As screwed up as his family is Cassel can still count on them in one way or another.
I loved the ending.! You could kind of see the very end coming but the rest of the storyline kept you guessing up until the last minutes so no complaints here. For some reason it makes me feel accomplished when things are all wrapped up at the end, like I was the one doing all the work. Ha!