White Cat

White Cat

Paperback - 2015
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The first installment in The Curse Workers series from New York Times bestselling author Holly Black: "Urban fantasy, con story--whatever you call it, read it" ( Kirkus Reviews , starred review).

Cassel comes from a family of con artists and grifters, all of them curse workers but him. On top of that, Cassel is plagued by guilt that he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.

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, and what that means about his actions. In Cassel's search for answers about Lila and himself, he realizes that his brothers have been conning him for years, and that the final piece in their quest for power is about to fall into place. Cassel has other ideas. He's going to create an even more elaborate trap and, with Lila's help, con a bunch of magic using conmen.

This "beautifully realized dark fantasy...with prose that moves from stark simplicity to almost surreal intensity in a moment" ( Publishers Weekly, starred review) is rife with the unexpected. "Readers will be hooked" ( Booklist ) on White Cat .
Publisher: New York : Saga Press, 2015
ISBN: 9781481444538
1481444530

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From Library Staff

Cassel is used to not fitting in. After all, he comes from a family of con artists. But when he starts having strange dreams, and people in down are losing memories, he begins to question what he thought happened all those years ago-- when he killed his best friend.


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Sgordano Apr 22, 2019

The first book in a Holly Black series called The Curse Workers, White Cat is the story (predictably set in the good old Garden State) of Cassel Sharpe, the only non-worker in a family of worker criminals. Workers are those with the special powers, ranging from bringing others luck to death and physical transformation just with a touch of their hand. Because of how powerful they are, "working" is illegal and all people wear gloves all the time to keep from accidentally touching another person's bare skin. Cassel's mother is in prison for working, and both of his brothers are involved in a worker-based crime family. Cassel, however, is a normal teenager with a slight sleepwalking issue that put him on the school's roof in the middle of the night.

Or so he thinks, that is. Piece by piece, little bits of information are coming to Cassel that don't quite fit with how he remembers life. In particular, he is having issues around memories involving his childhood friend Lila, the daughter of the head of the crime family who Cassel is supposed to have killed years before according to his brothers. Bit by bit, Cassel becomes more and more aware that he himself is being used in a con, and it is very clear that his brothers are largely behind it. Could it be that Cassel is more important than he realizes?

Holly Black sets up quite a world to work from in this novel. I like her previous work and this didn't let me down. I was happy that she did such a good job writing from the male point of view since the whole Tithe series was definitely chick lit. This is a good fantasy read and definitely doable for the male teen audience.

g
goddessbeth
Jan 20, 2019

I have to get this out of the way right away- part of my not enjoying this book more than I did is because the narrator is not good. He's a famous actor, but his idea of pacing is galloping at breakneck speed without any differentiation between interior and exterior voice for the MC, and without differentiation between character voices. So mostly it sounded unemotional and was confusing to listen to. If you read it, don't listen to the audiobook.

OK, now that's out of the way. White Cat had an interesting world concept (magic is real, requires the laying on of hands, and is banned as universally evil) and an interesting MC concept (Cassel is part of a family of curseworker con artists, and he's the only one without magic). Ultimately, it failed to engage me emotionally.

Cassel is snarky but without compelling vulnerability. Sure, his quips and vague, unambitious life are amusing to a point, but when the stakes got high, I got bored. Literally every other character in here is barely developed (except maybe his grandad, who is a bit of a mystery) and I found myself struggling to care. Probably the most interesting thing was the dynamic of their jailed con artist mom with her kids- believably manipulative and a bit broken. But that only shows up, really, in the final chapter of the book.

My lasting impression was 'meh', so I won't be continuing the series.

t
TardisLibrarian
Jan 12, 2019

Excellent interesting use of powers and superhero elements as well.

I went through this book like I was falling down a gravity well. Part fairy-tale, part X-Men-style superhero story, part the Sopranos! Dark, suspenseful, full of plot twists in a detailed universe just next door to our own. Cassel is a teen boy with a painful past. Moreover, he’s the only member of his family without the talent to ‘work’, to put curses on people through the touch of a bare hand. As criminal clans maneuver for power by using the gifts of the curse workers, Cassel finds himself at the center of a storm of ruthless conspiracy and revenge– but in a world where both memory and emotions can be manipulated, can he be sure of anything he thinks he knows? First in the Curse Workers series, but this volume resolves strongly and can stand alone. (submitted by library patron DF)

sundanced Jul 13, 2018

This story reminded me of Madame d'Aulnoy's old fairy tale, "The White Cat", with a very unique take including a magic mafia crime family. The story is filled with dark magic and deceit, and will keep you guessing until the end.

s
starkshadow
Jun 17, 2018

5 STARS! This is possibly my new favorite book. The characters and plot are unique, and given that many YA books are pretty much just copies of popular series such as The Hunger Games, the originality of White Cat is refreshing. The story also has a lot of plot twists that I could not predict. And who wouldn't want to read about the equivalent of a supervillain/magical mafia? Also, Cassel and Lila are my new OTP, love them:) Due to the flowing, masterful writing style and perfect pacing as well as the awesome story, I got through it in about a day.
In short: just read the book!

KimberlyReads Dec 23, 2016

The Curse Workers Trilogy is full of plot twists and mysteries to be unraveled. It kept me guessing through all three books, and offers a delicious mix of con men and dark magic.

j
jmli
Sep 05, 2016

This book was amazing, and that isn't anywhere close to an exaggeration. I felt that White Cat easily reminded me of The Young Elites and The Outsiders.
The mystery is something that caught me right at the start. Most books fail to keep readers interested at first, but this one was completely absorbing from page one. 100% looking forward to book two.

FindingJane Sep 13, 2014

With its striking cover of a black-gloved pouty boy holding a fluffy white cat, “White Cat” launches the reader into slightly different territory. The protagonist is a “worker”, someone with forbidden powers—or is he? It’s a secret, both to the central character and the reader, and part of the thrill is finding out exactly what’s going on with him and his duplicitous family.

At times, it’s a struggle to like Barron, Philip, Cassel and their mother. They like duping people but you wonder that they’re lives aren’t better for it. They get tangled up with truly dangerous criminals, they grew up in a house filled with hoarded treasure piled in such haphazard fashion it’s more warren than home and Cassel’s attempts to be a normal and an upstanding citizen don’t prevent him from being a bookie at his upper-class school.

But Ms. Black shows how necessary their twisted values are, how the judgmental world they exist in doesn’t allow for differences unless they’re willing to bend the rules and force the system to work for them. They’re criminals but charming ones and, if they’re rigging the system, it’s only to keep it from squashing them.

Of course, as one character points out, everyone may look down on or fear workers, but everyone has always secretly wanted to be one, to wield powers beyond that of normal men. Ms. Black shows just how exciting, alluring and lonely such desires and powers can be.

ChristchurchLib Jun 30, 2014

"Cassel Sharpe comes from a family of criminals and "curse workers," people who practice magic illegally and can alter others' luck or memories -- or even kill them -- with a single touch. Cassel, who doesn't seem to have inherited his family's talents, tries very hard to convince his private-school classmates that he's just a regular guy. But he's haunted by a dirty secret from his past, a white cat that keeps appearing in his nightmares, and the odd way that his brothers have been acting around him lately. Right from the start, when Cassel awakens from a nightmare to find himself on the roof of his dormitory, this 1st volume in the Curse Workers series is an edgy, pulse-pounding read." Teen Scene July 2014 newsletter http://www.libraryaware.com/996/NewsletterIssues/ViewIssue/36c051c4-68fe-4dcd-be55-0c8781def9ca?postId=8d38463e-7e3e-4453-9d29-53e32444377f

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jmli
Sep 05, 2016

jmli thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Violet_Bee_66 Jul 01, 2013

Violet_Bee_66 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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jmli
Sep 05, 2016

“Clever as the Devil and twice as pretty.”

JewelMcLatchy May 18, 2013

"...The cat is just staring at me, and I think there's blood on her mouth. I look at her and see the deaths of hundreds of mice and birds. I see them just lining up to march into her mouth along an unfurling carpet of tongue like in an old cartoon. I think she wants to eat me next." / "Pet the cat, dude," says Sam. "She brought you a present. She wants you to tell her how badass she is." / "You are a tiny, tiny killing machine," Daneca coos. / "What's she doing?" I ask. / "Purring!" says Daneca. She sounds delighted. "Good kitty. Who's an amazing killing machine? That's right! You are! You are a brutal, brutal tiny lion! Yes, you are."

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