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Other titles in the Curse Workers series:

Curse Workers #01: White Cat

by

Curse Workers #01: White Cat Cover

ISBN13: 9781416963967
ISBN10: 1416963960
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love — or death — and your dreams might be more real than your memories.

Review:

"In this beautifully realized dark fantasy, which launches Black's Curse Workers series, Cassel Sharpe is a talented con artist who works as a bookie at his snooty prep school. But skilled as Cassel is, it's nothing compared to the rest of his family, who are curse workers, able to control people's memories, luck, or emotions with the touch of a finger (curse work is illegal, and all citizens wear gloves to safeguard against being taken advantage of). Three years ago Cassel murdered a friend, the daughter of a crime lord, and now, not by coincidence, he's having nightmares about a white cat ('It leaned over me, inhaling sharply, as if it was going to suck the breath from my lungs') and sleepwalking on the roof of his dormitory. Complex plots unfold around Cassel, and he eventually realizes that he can't even rely on his own memory. With prose that moves from stark simplicity to almost surreal intensity in a moment, Black (Ironside) has created a believable alternate America where mobsters are magicians and no one is entirely trustworthy. Ages 14 — up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

The White Cat introduces Holly Black's new world Cassel has always known he killed Lila, but now the pieces are starting not to fit.

Synopsis:

The first in a trilogy, this gritty, fast-paced fantasy is rife with the unexpected. Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesnand#8217;t fit in at home or at school, so heand#8217;s used to feeling like an outsider. Heand#8217;s also used to feeling guiltyand#8212;he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, 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 ideasand#8212; and a plan to con the conmen.

About the Author

Holly Black is the bestselling author of the Spiderwick series. Her Modern Faerie Tales series is comprised of Tithe, which was an ALA Top Ten Book for Teens and received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews; Valiant, which was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a Locus Magazine Recommended Read, and a recipient of the Andre Norton Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America; and Ironside, the sequel to Tithe, was a New York Times bestseller. White Cat, the first book in the Curse Workers trilogy, was a Kirkus Reviews Best Book, and ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults, and received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and BCCB. Red Glove, the second book in the Curse Workers trilogy, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. The final book in the trilogy, Black Heart, will be available in spring 2012. Holly has also written a collection of short stories, The Poison Eaters and Other Stories. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. Visit Holly at blackholly.com.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

The Eager Readers, July 8, 2010 (view all comments by The Eager Readers)
Holly Black's White Cat is a smart story about betrayal and deceit among a family of curse workers with ties to the mob. I've enjoyed several of Holly Black's books, but White Cat is by far my favorite. I can't wait to read Red Glove and Black Heart, the upcoming books in her Curse Workers trilogy!

What I Liked:
- This book will appeal to male and female readers equally. Not only does White Cat feature a realistic male protagonist, which is fairly rare in the current YA market, but the story itself is not dripping with saccharine teenage romance or the typical high school drama that frequently repels fifty percent of the potential audience. This is not to say that there is no romance or angst, but the point-of-view stays true to the male protagonist and the primary conflict revolves around the tension and secrets between three brothers.
- I loved Cassel! I have always had a soft spot for broken boys, and Cassel is far more broken than most. He has been dealt an extremely rough hand, and it is impossible not to sympathize with him even if he isn't necessarily a law-abiding citizen. I would try to describe what makes him so wonderful, but I think a fantastic phrase in the book describes him much more succinctly than I ever could. He is "clever as the devil and twice as pretty."
- The secondary characters feel realistic and have distinct personalities and motives. Even characters that only grace the pages for a few sentences don't seem like stock background characters. In fact, several of the least-significant characters are so vividly painted that I can still recall bit players like the schnauzer-shirted shelter employee and the businessman arguing about sorbet vs. ice cream on his cell phone.
- I enjoyed the gritty realism of the world in which White Cat takes place. This is not the type of gritty realism that feels contrived or designed purely for shock value, but it is a variety of realism that allows you to see that the characters bleed, vomit, and bruise, and lets you see that the world they live in is one in which houses aren't miraculously spotless and cars aren't all brand new shiny sports cars. It is similar to the difference between a CGI-driven blockbuster populated by airbrushed actors and a clever independent film populated by character actors who look and behave like real people. I liked the realism a lot.
- The references to the French fairytale, The White Cat, are intriguing. While this book is definitely not a straightforward retelling of that story, I really enjoyed all the fairytale references - such as the veiled white cat, the disembodied hands holding torches, and the three brothers with the youngest being the kindest and most likable.
- Following a main character who is reluctantly skilled at the art of conning people is entertaining. Even when Cassel is not actively scheming, he analyzes situations with the eyes and mind of a con artist, and it quickly becomes obvious why he has a difficult time building friendships or maintaining a romantic relationship.
- I liked the idea of curse magic and the ways in which political choices made based on fear led to the outlawing of curse work and the development of major crime families here in the U.S. The current political debate within the book made the fantasy elements of the story more believable, since curse workers faced such a familiar and realistic type of discrimination.
- I was pleased that the magic in this book has very serious consequences, not only legal ramifications but immediate physical or mental consequences in the form of blowback.
- There are lots of quotable moments in this book. A couple of non-spoilery ones that stand out to me are:
(Cassel thinking about how his mother's cluttered house was always overflowing with random items she couldn't seem to throw away - p. 52): "When I was a kid and brought friends over, I was defiantly proud of the chaos. I liked that I knew how to jump over the piles and the shattered glass while they stumbled. Now it just seems like an ocean of crazy that I have no way to explain."
(Cassel reflecting on the unreliable nature of memories - p. 96): "Memory is slippery. It bends to our understanding of the world, twists to accommodate our prejudices."
- A few of the background characters' names included winks to some of Holly's author friends or their characters - such as brief mentions of the Brennan crime family (Sarah Rees Brennan) & a Jace that lives in Cassel's dorm (Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments). Those types of tiny nods are always fun & remind me of spotting hidden Mickeys at Disneyland. Basically it is the type of thing that isn't necessary to your enjoyment of the book, but if you happen to like those authors it may feel like a little inside joke you get to smile at too.
- The book's ending leaves plenty to be explored in the next two volumes of the Curse Workers trilogy, but readers are not left hanging with thousands of infuriating loose ends either.

What I Wished:
- One of the twists near the end of the book seems slightly more contrived than I would have liked. Not that Cassel's rotten luck surprised me or that I didn't believe the characters would behave in the ways they did, but this particular turn in the story had me thinking "Geez! What are the odds?!" a little more than usual.

Fans of organized crime stories or noirish capers will definitely want to pick up White Cat. Fans of clever antiheroes who find themselves caught up in horrific circumstances will want to check out White Cat. Fans of books or movies about con-men or smart criminals, like The Usual Suspects, Ocean's Eleven, The Sting, Rounders, Snatch, L.A. Confidential, Matchstick Men, or Dirty Rotten Scoundrels may also want pick up White Cat.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
Susan Wiget, March 6, 2010 (view all comments by Susan Wiget)
In a world where mobster families practice dark magic, Cassel feels left out as the only one in his dysfunctional family who has no magic powers. He compensates with his abilities to con and lie much like the rest of the family. As if normal teen angst weren’t bad enough, he is haunted by the horrific death of a friend and struggles to remember how she died. When he dreams of a white cat talking to him and wakes up sleepwalking on the roof of his prep school dorm, his life spins out of control.

Holly Black’s fairy tale trilogy, Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside, are among my favorite fantasy novels. While not about fairies, this is another urban fantasy by Holly Black, one that will keep you up all night reading to the end, as the plot twists and turns and Cassel learns disturbing things about himself and about his family. The world of curse worker mobsters is a highly original conception.

The novel itself is excellent, but the cover art is yet another example, along with Justine Larbalestier’s Liar and Jaclyn Dolamore’s Magic Under Glass, of YA cover art whitewashing. Cassel has black hair, black eyes, and tan skin, yet the boy on the front cover has auburn hair and very pale skin. The continued racism in the publishing industry, which believes that featuring white people on the front cover will sell more copies, is a disgrace.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781416963967
Author:
Black, Holly
Publisher:
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Subject:
Fantasy & Magic
Subject:
Animals - Cats
Subject:
Family - Siblings
Subject:
Science fiction
Subject:
Memory
Subject:
Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic
Subject:
Children s-Science Fiction and Fantasy
Edition Description:
Hardback
Series:
Curse Workers
Series Volume:
01
Publication Date:
20100531
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
from 9
Language:
English
Illustrations:
f-c jacket--sfx
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 14.035 oz
Age Level:
13-17

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Related Subjects

Children's » Reference » Family and Genealogy
Children's » Science Fiction and Fantasy » General
Young Adult » Fiction » Horror
Young Adult » Fiction » Paranormal
Young Adult » General

Curse Workers #01: White Cat New Hardcover
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Product details 320 pages Margaret K. McElderry Books - English 9781416963967 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this beautifully realized dark fantasy, which launches Black's Curse Workers series, Cassel Sharpe is a talented con artist who works as a bookie at his snooty prep school. But skilled as Cassel is, it's nothing compared to the rest of his family, who are curse workers, able to control people's memories, luck, or emotions with the touch of a finger (curse work is illegal, and all citizens wear gloves to safeguard against being taken advantage of). Three years ago Cassel murdered a friend, the daughter of a crime lord, and now, not by coincidence, he's having nightmares about a white cat ('It leaned over me, inhaling sharply, as if it was going to suck the breath from my lungs') and sleepwalking on the roof of his dormitory. Complex plots unfold around Cassel, and he eventually realizes that he can't even rely on his own memory. With prose that moves from stark simplicity to almost surreal intensity in a moment, Black (Ironside) has created a believable alternate America where mobsters are magicians and no one is entirely trustworthy. Ages 14 — up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , The White Cat introduces Holly Black's new world Cassel has always known he killed Lila, but now the pieces are starting not to fit.
"Synopsis" by , The first in a trilogy, this gritty, fast-paced fantasy is rife with the unexpected. Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesnand#8217;t fit in at home or at school, so heand#8217;s used to feeling like an outsider. Heand#8217;s also used to feeling guiltyand#8212;he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, 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 ideasand#8212; and a plan to con the conmen.
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