White Cat (Curse Workers)

Review: “White Cat” by Holly Black

Thumbs up for White Cat by Holly Black. Young adult fantasy.

Holly Black’s Tithe and Ironside are two of my favorite fantasies, which outweighed my hatred of novels written in the present tense just enough that I thought I would give White Cat at the very least a half-assed try. Well, on p45, after a slightly slow start, things started taking off and I whizzed through the rest. I like the world that Black creates, which hangs together nicely in its little details: for example, the touch of a bare hand can curse you, ergo everyone wears gloves, ergo porn involves women taking their gloves off. In the US, magic (“curse working,” whether positive or negative in intent) is illegal, so it’s gone underground, ergo most workers work for the mob. Like, for example, the protagonist’s family. Not that that’s his main problem, to start with; first is the fact that he nearly sleepwalks to his death off the roof of his dorm, which puts a serious crimp in his effort to seem like a normal guy. Also an issue is the fact that when he was fourteen, he killed a girl, and he doesn’t know why. Some really excellent twists here that will keep you up late. It’s no Tithe, but I’m still glad I pushed my way through the first few pages.

At nine she beat me mercilessly at video games, raced up hills and trees so fast I was always three steps behind her long legs, and bit me when I tried to steal her dolls and hide them. I couldn’t tell if she hated me half the time, even when we spent weeks hiding under the branches of a willow tree, drawing civilizations in the dirt and then crushing them like callous gods. But I was used to brothers who were fast and cruel and I worshiped her.


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