Wednesday, October 27, 2010

White Cat, by Holly Black

No vampires or werewolves! But some magic. This is the first in a series of books called "The Curse Workers." In an alternative universe there are individuals who are gifted, curse workers. Each has their own gift: persuasion, deception, death, luck, and others. The gifts are generally inherited. Most of the "workers" are managed by a form of the mafia.

Our main character, Cassel, is the "ungifted" one in a family of curse workers. His mother is in prison and his family is strained by their father's death, mother's absence and financial problems. Cassel is enrolled in a private boarding school. The story begins when he suddenly find himself on the roof of the school, a very dangerous spot, as a result of sleepwalking. The school temporarily sends him home to be supervised by his grandfather until the legal situation is resolved.

Holly Black's previous works for older adolescents Tithe: A Modern Faierie Tale and Valiant were great reads, both award winners. Most of her books are considered "urban" something. Her settings in Tithe, particularly those in the NY subway, are realistic and nuanced. This book is different, but equally compelling. I'm giving it a strong positive recommendation.

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