By Holly Black
Available now from Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon and Schuster)
Clever as the devil and twice as pretty.
I love Holly Black's Modern Tales of Faerie, so I was ridiculously excited when the first book of The Curse Workers showed up at my door. Fortunately, Black delivered a fast and clever story. (She did, however, use the ending to rip out my heart and grind it with a stiletto heel. Why do I not have the second book already to ease the ache in my soul?)
Cassel Sharpe lives in a world where some people - known as curse workers - can use an ability on you if they just touch you with their hands. His grandfather, in fact, can kill you that way. Generally, people don't take their gloves off. While Cassel himself is powerless, he comes from a talented family that uses their abilities to run cons. One night, Cassel wakes up on the roof of his dorm, chasing a white cat. He's removed from the dorm and sent to live with his family, where he quickly realizes his brothers Phillip and Anton are up to something.
For all that the family dynamics are strange - the mother is in jail, Phillip's wife is forgetful, and you can't quite tell whose side Grandad is on, it works. These are the people Cassel grew up with, and it shows in his personality and tactics. It's just part of the tight, coherent tapestry that Black weaves in WHITE CAT.
I love the world Black has created. It's just as dangerous as her interpretation of faerie, and Cassel needs his wits in order to survive in it. I adore the flashbacks to his relationship with Lila - his best friend, whom he killed three years ago. It's extremely sexy, in a kinky sort of way. (Not that I think the younger kids who read WHITE CAT will pick up on that.)
Pretty much, WHITE CAT has it all. A varied cast of interesting characters (including Cassel's school friends), an intriguing world, and a twisted plot that just keeps moving faster and faster until the ridiculously cool denoument. Black took full control of my emotions right up until the aforementioned ending where she ripped out my heart. But, since she's as evil as some of her characters, she made it feel good.
Also, check out the trailer by the talented Vania. The ending of the trailer is less heart-wrenching, but shows that it's criminal they covered up the model's face with the title treatment.