Saturday, July 31, 2010

HBIC Review White Cat by Holly Black

White Cat by Holly Black
May 4th 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry Publishing
Hardcover, 310 pages

Review Posted by Tina at Tinasbookreviews

Ridiculous Short Book Synopsis

Cassel is a mobster...a con man......a murderer oh and comes from a family of curse workers -- fun time people who can alter your emotions, thoughts and basically your entire status in life. While Cassel's family all has the gift of curse work at their fingertips, Cassel does not and since working people is highly illegal, the family lives life like The Sopranos. Tucked away in a school Cassel hides from his family behind his books and education...that is until he starts sleepwalking and gets kicked out..........................


If you have tasted Holly Blacks work before then you know she isn’t about rainbows and dog walks. Black writes to shock and take YA to the extreme……and I must say White Cat did not disappoint. Highly different from The Modern Faerie Tale, Black offers us a unique look into the world of mobsters with paranormal powers. After reading this I’m thankful Al Capone only had special powers in moving around drugs and pulling triggers………………….

Shortly after Cassel starts sleepwalking at school and keeps having dreams about a white cat desperate to get his attention (id say chewing your tongue out gives a hint) does the school decide to kick him out temporally to seek medical attention. Cassel then has to return home and stay with his curse-working brothers whose strange behavior and dark secrets slowly begin to pour out. Haunted by memories of killing his best friend Lila but not understanding why, Cassel soon gets a feeling that the biggest con the family is playing is the one surrounding him.

I think the world Black created was one of unique genius and believability. While most of the characters are unlikable even Cassel at times who manipulates and uses people, the story still manages to grab hold of the reader and not let go. Not that Black lets her characters run amuck or have fun in their illegal activities, deep betrayals rack the family and tear them up. Many of the relationships are double-sided and no one can truly be trusted because basically everyone is out for themselves. The biggest issue though concerning the curse work is the consequence of using it. Cassel’s family experience blowback whenever they work a curse….you know that idea in witchcraft that says whatever you send out comes back to you seven fold…….well curses work the same way in Blacks novel except they come back as a physical or mental damaging effect. Grandpa’s fingers are black, other family members have lost fingers, some have mental issues and others are seriously jacked up- working spouses or other loved ones.Even with this knowledge the family still chooses to use it. While they are rich and powerful they still pay the price and in the end the entire family has to account for the deceit and secrets……………

A twisty, mysterious world with a gangster feel that meets the paranormal and also has the creepy ability to put Janet Jackson's Black Cat in your head......


White Cat does not shy away from mature content including: Illegal activities (think mobsters) sexuality, violence, murder, drug and alcohol use/references, graphic language and witchcraft. Recommended to the mature teen (10th and up) and adult.

3/4- YA-Mobsters-Paranormal

BWB Discussion Questions

1.Blacks characters pay a price for being powerful curse workers and experience a phenomenon called "blowback" whenever they worked someone. If you had a superpower but knew by using it you would experience a crippling side effect would you still use it?

If it was for something good.....using power and lying will only get you so far until it crumbles...I mean look at the Freddy Mac...................then again I really really enjoy having fingers so maybe not.........

2.Family plays an important role in White Cat (Curse Workers) -- who did you like the most or the least in Cassel's family and why?

I didn't really care for any of Cassel's family- his brother worked his wife, the other one lies, while gramps had a few redeeming quality's in the end he was a liar too. 

3.What did you think about the entire world that Holly Black built? The gloves, the curses? Can you imagine a world like this where an uncovered hand could be a dangerous weapon?

Unique for sure as she took elements from witchcraft and mobsters and meshed them together.......I thought it wasn't a coincidence that the "laying on of hands" in her novel was the characters powers. Seeing how witchcraft in general is considered rebellion to many religious believers and laying hands on people signify the tools for blessing...its not a surprise Black would use this method as her source to signify curses using the same phrase that religious sectors use, thus creating a complete counterfeit.

4.With family like this who needs enemies right? Is blood thicker than water? Or in this case should Cassel think about getting a name change and moving far far away from his familial bonds?

I think Cassel needs a time out from the family....he needs to cut the cord and head to the mountains.......... 

5. Do think this book is a good set up for a sequel? If so, make your predictions.

Of course, there is never a lack of crime drama in the world...and now with mommy out of the pen, Lila being  alive and all and Cassel about to get some, I see book two right around the corner.  

And for a special spoiler question...

What did you think about Cassel's mother and the curse she worked in the last pages of the book? Cassel finally thinks he is getting some love...and wham-O!

I think mama needs shock treatment...............



Kate said...

Superb review! I've yet to read anything by Holly Black. Maybe I should change that!

Trillian said...

Great review! I haven't read anything by Holly Black yet but I have a couple on my tbr pile that I can't wait to get to.