Author: Holly Black
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: 05/04/10
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.
Plot: 4 Stars
I really liked the idea of workers and curses, and whether or not the powers are used for good or evil. It was a very unique take the typical "magic" or "curses" often seen in young adult and urban fantasy novels. The different types of workers and how they operated could've been elaborated on a little more, so I'm hoping we'll find out more in the sequel. I only had a small issue with the plot, that being that I was a bit confused at times. Cassel, the main character, was also confused so I guess it fit, but I just wish a few details here and there could've been explained a little better.
Pace: 3.5 Stars
The pace of this novel was uneven. The beginning started out a bit slow, but sucked me in after a couple chapters. Then there was a lull in the plot a chapter or two before the climax, but when it reached that point, I couldn't put the book down and was handed twist after twist. There were some scenes that seemed pointless when I read them, but made sense later on, and then there were one or two that never really fit in.
Characters: 4 Stars
Cassel was a very likeable main character. I like young adult novels with male main characters, and they don't come along all that often, so I was psyched. I liked the inner turmoil that Cassel went through and how he dealt with it. His grandfather was another character I enjoyed. His older brothers were a bit touch and go for me. I could never quite figure out whether or not I should like them, or whether or not I actually did. But that doesn't mean the author did anything wrong; I actually think the reader is supposed to be unsure of those two. All in all, it was a very interesting cast of characters, workers and non-workers alike.
Cover: 4.5 Star
I'm a sucker for covers with fluffy cats on them. But besides the cute kitty, the color and font choices make for a striking color. The shadows and black background make the cover model look mysterious, which really fits the character. The red and white text stands out without being too crazy, or giving off the wrong vibe.
Overall: 4 Stars
Disclosure: I bought this book for my own enjoyment.