Posts tagged ‘hollyblack’

June 30th, 2011

Red Glove by Holly Black; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Red Glove

Author: Holly Black

Published: April 5th, 2011

Number of Pages: 336

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe’s world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she’s human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila’s been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila’s love is as phony as Cassel’s made-up memories, then he can’t believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel’s oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can’t trust anyone—least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose. [From Goodreads]

Quote:

I know how to be the witness to her grief. I don’t know how to be this kind of villain.

Review:

I love Cassel Sharpe. Let me get that off my chest right off the bat. He has one of the best voices of any male protagonist I’ve ever read about, and I could live in his head all day. That says a lot, considering the fact that his head is full of betrayal, conflict, confusion, heartbrokenness, regret, and worry.

He’s just that cool.

I love clever people, and Cassel is the most entertaining sort of clever. He’s conniving. He’s always got a secret agenda and is always trying to get the upper-hand. It’s so much fun to read from the perspective of someone so observant. Cassel sees things that the normal person doesn’t, and I feel like my senses are heightened when they’re, well, his senses.

Red Glove in no way disappointed me. It met all the high expectations built up by the first book. This second installment in the Curse Workers series is just as exciting, confusing, and intricate as the first. I don’t know how Holly Black does it, but she reveals and conceals just the right information to make me go crazy with anticipation.

Additionally, the book showcases the same characters I adored in the first one, while keeping Lila in the picture a lot more. Sam is just the sort of dorky friend you’d find in one of John Green’s books (have I ever mentioned he has a hearse that runs on vegetable oil?). I never know quite what to expect from Daneca, but she never fails to deliver surprises or keep Cassel’s actions in check. And then there’s Lila, who is just crazy. In a very fun and entertaining way.

Red Glove deals with the same conflict of interest between family members as the first. Clearly the Sharpes have issues with honesty and loyalty, despite how much they claim to value it. Cassel’s given three vastly different options as to whose side he’ll chose, and every single one betrays somebody he loves.

Cassel’s also stuck with the difficult job of coming to terms with the fact that 1) He’s a transformation worker and 2) He’s killed a bunch of people. Consequently, he’s afraid of the future and the past, which leaves him in a predicament. As a reader, you’re also left with the job of making a decision: Do you think he’s guilty and despicable or innocent? Or some combination of the two?

This book clearly juggles a lot of issues of conscience and ethics. Ironically, some of the people you immediately consider ethical make some crazy decisions and others you’d consider unethical and dishonest make good ones. It’s a circus.

Overall, I found Red Glove to be just as seductive, entertaining, and amusing as the first book in the series and continue to adore Cassel’s voice and personality. There’s so much to love in Red Glove, even though it, you know, revolves around criminal activity and mobsters.

June 17th, 2011

White Cat by Holly Black; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: White Cat

Author: Holly Black

Published: January 1st, 2010

Number of Pages: 336

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

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. [From Goodreads]

Quote:

And if I wanted to kill myself, I wouldn’t throw myself off a roof. And if I was going to throw myself off a roof, I would put on some pants before I did it.

Review:

*Note: I wrote this back at the beginning of April!

I am thrilled to report that I’ll be attending an event of both Cassandra Clare’s and Holly Black’s next Wednesday. I’ve known they’re close friends for a long time but have never gotten around to reading one of Holly’s books, despite how much I adore Cassie’s. I am so glad I checked White Cat out! I’m a million times more excited to meet the two of them! It’s remarkable how similar Holly Blacks’ style and voice are to Cassandra Clare’s (a feeling that was increased by the fact that the font and design of the book is nearly identical to Cassie’s). It’s no wonder they get along well!

White Cat is a very well-executed and fun book about cunning characters. I loved the “mobster” families and ever-present feeling of foreboding. You couldn’t trust anyone, including Cassel’s (the main character) family. His mother, for instance, is an emotional worker. No, she doesn’t start crying whenever she writes on post-its or giggling when she makes photo-copies – she has the ability to change a person’s emotions with a simple touch of her hand.

Because of the potential danger posed by workers around the world and people’s general disinterest in being manipulated (imagine that!), everyone is required to wear gloves – workers and non-workers alike. Though being a worker isn’t the best situation for a family (the government takes a bit too much of an interest in them), Cassel can’t help but feel cheated. He’s the only member of his family without any sort of power. Coming from a family of workers, Cassel doesn’t fit in with the public. It seems he doesn’t belong anywhere – he’s the odd one out at home and the mysterious, well, weirdo at school. His social status takes a bigger hit when he’s suspended from school after getting stranded on a roof and having no recollection of how he got there.

All he remembers is his dream about a white cat biting off his tongue and running away with it.

Yeah.

Cassel’s adventure with the white cat only accelerates from there, the risks building up like block Lego towers in a pediatrician’s waiting room (ignore the oddness of that metaphor). Not only were betrayals and the wacky plans of conniving people being unveiled right and left, but Cassel himself kept me, as a reader, alert. He’s certainly a gifted conman, and his own clever plots left me in the dust more than once. I’d have to pause and take a moment to catch up with his train of thought. I love it when a main character is intelligent, even if that intelligence is often used to pull of cons – particularly if that intelligence is used to pull of cons.

Not only is Cassel smart, but he’s a genuinely nice guy. I’m sorry if I’m losing you. You’re probably thinking: “Didn’t she just explain how fabulous he is at deceiving people? What sort of people does Madeleine hang out with?” I don’t usually select thieves as friends, and if I did, they would likely (and unfortunately) be lacking magical powers. However, Cassel really does surprise you. It was soon clear to me that the biggest difference between him and the workers in his family is that he sympathizes. Though many people around him would consider it a weakness, Cassel can’t resist feeling for the people around him – including the people he’s conning. His voice is the sort that I connect to immediately. He’s reluctantly honest with himself at all times, and that adds a quality to his character that makes him all the more real.

There are so many colorful people in this book! His family is so hectic and insane that I couldn’t possible stop talking about them if I started, so I’ll do you a favor and only discuss his friends, namely Sam, Daneca, and Lila. Cassel had known Lila his whole life up to a specific and tragic moment that I’ll leave for you to read. It’s evident from the memories he has of her that she loved him, not necessarily in a romantic sort of way, but I knew she thought he was just as adorable as I did. She’s rowdy and rough around the edges, but an irresistible person all the same. Daneca and Sam are Cassel’s, um, “friend interests”. They’re not technically in any sort of real relationship to begin with, but possible candidates. They’re quirky and entertaining, and Cassel soon finds there’s more to them than he thought before.

I think that’s true of the entire book, actually. There’s more to everything than originally appears – even Cassel. As Holly Black’s intricate story unravels, layer upon layer is revealed. This book and the characters within it are like an onion. Or an ogre. I encourage everyone who is a fan of a blissfully relatable voice and suspenseful, crafty plots to peel it (unless you choose the ogre simile over the onion, in which case I advise conversation over peeling).