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White Cat (The Curse Workers) Paperback – February 8, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up—Cassel, 17, is an anomaly as the only untalented one in a family of curse workers. While his mother, grandfather, and brothers make their living by illegally performing death curses, manipulating memories, and casting emotion charms, Cassel relies on his quick wit and con-artist skills to convince his private-school classmates that he's normal, despite bouts of sleepwalking and patchy memories of standing over a murdered friend named Lila. Nightmares about a white cat that resembles Lila, his family's ties to organized crime, and evidence of a mysterious plot against him threaten to pull Cassel into the world he's fought hard to resist. Black has written a dark coming-of-age tale with a likable hero. Teens will empathize with Cassel's desire to fit in and his occasional clashes with his family while rooting for him to unravel the conspiracy. Though readers will enjoy the fast-paced plot, there are points, particularly in the last few chapters, where the action is confusing and clarity appears sacrificed for expediency. Some secondary characters, such as Cassel's grandfather and friend Sam, are three-dimensional, while others, including his brothers and Lila, are less well realized. Despite these minor flaws, White Cat will appeal to readers who grew up on Holly Black's "Spiderwick Chronicles" (S & S) and are ready for something edgier.—Leah J. Sparks, formerly at Bowie Public Library, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Dangerously, darkly gorgeous fantasy." - Cassandra Clare, author of The Mortal Instruments series

* "Fans of the author will revel in the sophisticated and slightly-more-realistic-than-usual approach, . . . fascinating and carefully developed characters, and lush setting descriptions." - BCCB, starred review

"A noir thriller." - New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • Series: The Curse Workers (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books; Reprint edition (February 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416963979
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416963974
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (228 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Holly Black is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books for kids and teens. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, The Good Neighbors graphic novel trilogy (with Ted Naifeh), the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, and her new dark fantasy novel, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. She has been a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award, a finalist for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of the Andre Norton Award and a Newbery Honor. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret door. 

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By The Gerondakises on March 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I thoroughly enjoyed Holly Black's first installment of The Curse Workers series: White Cat. In it, we're introduced to Cassel Sharpe and the world in which he lives--one much like our own save for the fact that "workers" exist who can work magic by touch alone. Cassel is the misfit in a family full of workers and con artists: since he wasn't born a worker, he has made up for his lack of gifts by perfecting the art of the con. With Cassel's mother in jail for working a man as a part of a con, and his boarding school kicking him out over an episode of sleepwalking, Cassel is left to the unstable care of his two brothers Phillip and Barron, and their grandfather. Haunted by his past, he works on conning his way back into school, uncovering some evidence that he himself is being worked--but by who? And can he save his family in the process of saving himself?

This was one of the best YA fantasy reads I've read in a while. I love the world that Black has created in this first installment of the series. Cassel is a great character whom the reader is going to love. Plus, his conniving family has enough interpersonal problems to keep things interesting as he tries to get to the bottom of the appearance of a mysterious white cat. The ending was a nice twist that left the reader pleasantly hanging for the second installment--while most of the questions have been answered, we know there's still more to the story! I'm looking forward to Book 2, and I hope we get to read more about Cassel and his family in the next one.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Snark Shark on April 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Cassel has problems. His mom's in jail for the fallout of an unsuccessful con (she made a millionaire fall in love with her, but then he got over it). He's a loner at school, where being from a family of workers (who can influence, or "curse," your luck, or dreams, or memory with the touch of skin on skin) is not the ticket to teenage popularity one would hope. Worse, he's not a worker himself, which means his brothers make his life hell and his grifter family has no idea what to do with him. But the cherry on this sundae of suckitude would be the memory of Lila, the person who came closest to being his best friend, and how Cassel can't figure out why he would kill her, three years ago.

But now a white cat is haunting his dreams and dodging his steps, and Cassel is waking up to the fact that someone in his life is working both con and curses on HIM...

"The White Cat" is -- in the loosest sense of the word -- inspired by the fairytale of Puss In Boots. That's one of my favorites, but I can't say the appeal crosses over. Black's effort is ultimately an entertaining ride. I have a demanding system for my rankings, so don't let the three stars fool you: this is a fun book. But it's not a particularly smart one.

The first few pages are pretty fabu. But then, as many reviews here have mentioned, the book hits a slog. This is understandable -- an entirely new magic system and history of the world takes time to explain.

The slog lasts one hundred pages. I don't mean nothing in there has any bearing on the rest of the book, but it honestly takes another hundred pages (I marked the passage) before we get an idea of where the plot is headed, that frisson of "ooo, something is happening!
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Amanda M. Hayes VINE VOICE on March 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The bad first, to get it out of the way: this book isn't always the most subtle thing going. I was about an eighth of the way into the story when one of the big plot twists telegraphed itself so clearly I couldn't miss it. Another significant, connected twist became obvious once I'd spotted the first. I've been reading fantasy for a long time, but I'm not exactly the Sherlock Holmes of the genre, so other readers will figure this stuff out too. That was a bit of a bummer.

Now the good, and there's more of that! There were a lot of twists and turns in the story I didn't see coming, some intricate and some delightful and some a measure of both. I got fond of Cassel Sharpe over the course of his story, because sure, he's a con man and if we met in real life he'd see me as some kind of mark, but he has a soul to go with his brain. Morality's a complicated issue in the Sharpe family--it makes all kinds of things rather interesting, from simple doctor's appointments to crimes in progress, death, and love.

In Cassel's version of Earth a few members of humanity have always been able to work magic on others, changing their luck, or their dreams, or their memories. It's been illegal for years, but why would that stop the magical Mafia? Everyone wears gloves to protect themselves from 'the touch.' One bare hand touching another is shocking, taboo. When you try and eat Tater Tots, the grease gets all over the leather. Small things like this made the setting more complex than just 'our world, except there's magic, but everything else is the same!' Cassel's reality is a lot like ours, but the devil is in the details....

I want the next book to be out *now* so I can find out what happens next, and that's maybe the best recommendation a series book can have. It's been awhile since I've jonesed so for a sequel, so I'll round four-and-a-half stars up to five and hope Holly Black's a fast writer.
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