Review: White Cat

10:47 Cilla P 0 Comments

Title: White Cat
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Margaret K. Elderberry
Source: Periplus Bookstore

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. Since curse work is illegal, they're all criminals. But not Caseel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider - the straight kid in a crooked family - as long as you ignore one small detail: he killed his best friend, Lila.

Now he is sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat. He also notices that his brothers are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and memories. To find out the truth, Cassell will have to outcon the conmen.

Review: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

'It's sweet. All this trouble for a kitty.'

I picked up White Cat at a book sale, firstly because I recognised the author's name and was curious, and also because it was ridiculously cheap. I didn't even try looking up reviews about it on Goodreads, so I went in with zero expectations. That was an advantage, as much of the plot relies on the element of surprise.

For a while at the start, I was really confused. There wasn't any exposition about this world or its history, and I kept feeling like I must have missed something. Once I've settled into the story though, I enjoy the way information was sprinkled through the dialogues and snippets of Cassel's thoughts. It felt like I was hanging on for a fast ride and had to keep my eyes open if I wanted to get the full experience.

I'm not sure how I feel about any of the characters. The Sharpes are not likeable, but the (mostly dysfunctional) relationships between them are fascinating to follow if a little sickening at times. Cassell seems like such a pushover half of the time that I find him exasperating, but then the other half of the time he's an intelligent boy with understandable issues. I think this may be one of those few times where I love the story but not so much the characters.

As I mentioned earlier, this story relies on the element of surprise; there are plenty of twists and turns right up to the last page, and I found myself constantly turning the page despite flinching at certain parts. I'm keen to read the next installment in the series, if not for Cassell then to see where else Black will take the story.

'We are, largely, who we remember ourselves to be. That's why habits are so hard to break. If we know ourselves to be liars, we expect not to tell the truth. If we think of ourselves as honest, we try harder.'


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