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White Cat: The Curse Workers, Book 1

Review

White Cat: The Curse Workers, Book 1

Curse workers are people who can manipulate others with a single touch from their hands. Most curse workers are luck workers. People hire them to bring good luck to a new baby, marriage, or business endeavor. Curse workers can also change people’s emotions for good or bad, wipe away memories or plant new ones, and create vivid dreams to pass along messages. There are also a few rare powers curse workers can possess. These include death workers who can kill on the spot and transformation workers who can change objects, or people, into something completely new.

Curse work is powerful, but it comes at a great cost. All curse workers experience blowback, where the curse seems to backfire into the worker. Most of the time this is temporary, but it leaves the worker immobile and weak. The more you curse work, the more permanent the blowback. Because of its great power, curse work is illegal.

Cassel Sharpe comes from a family of curse workers. His mother is currently in jail serving time after being caught. His father died long ago, his brothers work for a powerful mobster family, and his granddad is set in his retirement. Cassel desperately wants to be a strong member of the family, but there is just one little problem: he doesn’t have any power. He’s the black sheep in the family. Cassel is also responsible for killing his best friend, Lila, three years ago and hasn’t quite recovered. So Cassel bides his time in a private school doing what he does best --- being a con man --- and tries to make sense of the mess his life has become.

Understandably, Cassel has trouble sleeping at night. Most of the time he obsesses over his situation in life, but lately he’s been afflicted with terrible nightmares with one commonality: a white cat. This white cat won’t leave him alone and seems to be telling him something --- something important. After his last nightmare, Cassel found himself on top of the roof clinging to the edge. He doesn’t remember how he got there, but knows its time to seek some professional help. And that is where everything begins to unravel.

Cassel is kicked out of school until he can get a doctor’s approval to return. He goes home only to find his older brother Barron, a memory curse worker, and Philip, a physical curse worker, acting strange and secretive. They both work for the powerful Zacharov family --- Lila’s family --- and seem to be cooking up a con that Cassel can only wonder about. As Cassel gets help for his sleeping disorder, he slowly uncovers truths that he isn’t ready to handle. It appears that Cassel himself has been worked and key memories are missing. The white cat may be more than just a cat, and Cassel might be more powerful than he thinks. Cassel slowly realizes that he’s the center of a huge con game, but is it too late for him to do anything about it?

Holly Black has worked her magic once again with this exciting new series. Cassel is an extremely relatable teenager who is struggling to figure out where he fits into his family and in life. It’s also pretty cool to read about his methods behind the different cons he sets up and how he controls almost every situation. Black has also just scratched the surface of the intriguing concept of curse work. She dives a bit into the history of it and shows the great power it possesses throughout the book, but I wanted more --- and you will too! Thankfully the second book in the series arrives next spring.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on May 4, 2010

White Cat: The Curse Workers, Book 1
by Holly Black

  • Publication Date: February 8, 2011
  • Genres: Urban Fantasy
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • ISBN-10: 1416963979
  • ISBN-13: 9781416963974