Monday, October 18, 2010
by Holly Black
Curse Workers, book one
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. (description taken from Amazon.com)
I had heard a lot about this book before reading it. I'm a huge Holly Black fan, so I really wanted to read it. The world building was fantastic, of course, but there had been a lot of "oohing" and "aaahing" over Cassel as a heartbreaker. I just didn't quite get that.
The curseworker world is fascinating. I love the way that everyone must wear gloves to keep from being worked. The charms that could prevent working are also a great idea. I also thought it was great how Black set things up with politics and world issues based on the curseworkers and their relation to society. Cassel goes to a sleep specialist who wants to give him the "test" - one that can determine if he is a worker...one that may soon become mandatory - for the safety of everyone in their society.
That typs of worldbuilding is just absolutely captivating. What didn't quite pull me in was the relationship between Cassel and Lila... I guess because he thought she was dead when the book began, I just didn't really believe the whole unrequited love thing he had for her. More believable was what he went through with Aubrey, the girl from school. I also loved his friendships with Sam and Daneca, his relationship with his grandfather, and the screwed up way that he related to his brothers and mother. Those relationships I felt were very believable.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, even if I didn't swoon over the main character. I will definitely read book two, Red Glove, when it comes out. Holly Black is a master worldbuilder.