Who Doesn’t Like a Magical Mafia, or my Review of White Cat

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White Cat (The Curse Workers #1)

by Holly Black

Publisher: Margaret McElderry Books

Publication Date: January 1st, 2010

Format: Kindle E-Book


Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn’t fit in at home or at school, so he’s used to feeling like an outsider. He’s also used to feeling guilty; he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.

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 ideas and a plan to con the conmen.

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5 star rating

Have you ever thought about combining magic and the Mafia? Fortunately, you don’t have to, since Holly Black did, and did it brilliantly. This is definitely one of my favorite books, and my absolute favorite Holly Black series. It showcases the grimness and dark humor she’s excellent at, along with a world thats just as gritty as Tithe but more realistic.

Cassel is the only person in his family who’s not a curse-worker–someone who has magic. Sometimes he’s glad about this, but most often he’s simply wishful that he could have something that much more in common with them. On the other hand, his family are all criminals–his brother and grandfather are allied with the Zacharov crime family, and his mother is in jail for making rich men fall in love with her. Besides, Cassel has his own problems–he’s trying to manage in a private school, which isn’t easy when you sleepwalk onto the roof. Or when you murdered your childhood love three years ago. But things aren’t fitting together anymore, and Cassel is suddenly aware that he’s not the only one hiding a secret.

I’m actually not sure where to start with this–it would be easier to say what I DIDN’T love about this book. The family dynamic is strange, amusing and sometimes touching. So is Cas’s relationship with his friends, who despite not being aware of much of his life play an integral part in the story. I love all of the cons. And Lila. LILA. She is one of the most badass females to ever grace the pages of a YA novel, all scars and hard edges and wry humor and nerves of absolute, utter steel. Even better, it’s great to see from Cas’s perspective that he is absolutely, head-over-heels in love with her.

I also like that Cas definitely isn’t invincible. For the first part of the book he’s in a world where he’s seriously disadvantaged and an outsider, and he never gains a true position of strength. But that is also what makes these books work–he’s an underdog of the first order, fighting to get what no one is going to give him. Every situation he goes into he’s the lesser one, and that’s where all of his cons and inventiveness come into play. But it also makes for a great dynamic with Lila. Cas knows he’s not the one wearing the pants in this relationship, but he also doesn’t care as long as it’s Lila he’s with.

Also, the idea of Mafias formed around magic-users, who are shunned by the rest of society, is actually genius and I wish I had thought of it. Even though we don’t get a real glimpse, we get just enough to be creeped out. It has all of the cons, all of the action, all of the machine guns (well, not really) that you could imagine.

So White Cat is an absolute five-star book, and Holly Black is one of the authors I am fully prepared to worship at the feet of. (She also is one part of the best triumvirate of YA writers out there, and you should read everything they write).rosi name

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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.

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