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Kitty At My Foot And I Want To Touch It

A book review of White Cat by Holly Black, first book in the Curse Workers trilogy.

Kitty At My Foot And I Want To Touch It

BOOK REPORT for White Cat by Holly Black

Cover Story: I Pass On Grass, And By Grass I Mean Leather
BFF Charm: Yes!
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: The Con
Bonus Factors: Magic Prohibition, The Mob
Relationship Status: Why Did I Avoid This Book Again?

Cover Story: I Pass On Grass, And By Grass I Mean Leather

To be honest, this cover was initially a big turn off for me. There was a bit of a whitewashing brouhaha when the cover image was first released. But since my priorities are always in the wrong place, my bigger concern is that shiny leather coat. Leather coats on men make me uncomfortable because I tend to think of those dudes being in some early 90s B-movies where they attempt to transform their personalities, complete with a leather coat included makeover. That said, at least the gloves and the cat tie in to the story nicely. I can see this cover appealing to a lot of readers, just not me. I would choose the UK cover, which I adore. But then with covers, I always seem to choose animals and illustrations over humans and photos.

The Deal:

Cassel's world is similar to ours...except that about 1/1000 of the human population are what are called curse workers. Workers are people with the ability to perform magic-like manipulation with just the touch of their hands. Workers specialize in luck (the most comment type), emotion, dreams, death, physical, memories and (the ultra rare) transformation. Curse work is illegal in the USA, so much of the it is performed by con-men or members of organized crime. Cassel is the only non-worker in a family of workers, most of which are involved with the notorious Zacharov crime family. Always the outsider in his worker family, Cassel has grown up into a totally normal teenager, despite the occasional con or betting ring. Oh, and except for time he totally murdered his best friend Lila Zacharov. Whoopsies. But after nearly sleepwalking off the roof of his dorm, Cassel begins to suspect that maybe things in the worker world aren't quite what they seem.

BFF Charm: Yes!

Sometimes male protagonists can grate on me, but not Cassel. On the one hand, I genuinely want to feel sorry for him and his less-than-stellar upbringing. Like looking up to, but being completely left out by his older brothers. And a mom who used her emotional curse work to manipulate him. The death of his father and the guilt of Lila's murder. And yet, despite these things, Cassel doesn't really let me feel sorry him. Because he is too busy guiltlessly lying, conning and trying to solve his problems. Sure, he spends a lot of time trying to make people think he is cool and normal. But I'd much rather have a friend who is at least trying to impress me than one who acts like a basket case. Coming from his family, it's hard for Cassel to trust people. He thinks of friendship as an exchange of debts, and sometimes it is. But some friendships can be more than that, and hopefully Cassel would be my friend so I could show him that. Plus, it would be nice to have someone as tricky as Cassel on your team.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Since there are three girls who I felt had the potential to become Cassel's love interest, I will leave out names in an effort to remain spoiler free. There are a couple of steamy scenes later in the book, though I didn't find them particularly appealing. Maybe I just don't think any of the lady folks were good enough for Cassel.

Talky Talk: The Con

Cassel is an interesting narrator. I'm used to jaded narrators, but Cassel is different. He is sort of world-weary, but in a way that is understandable from someone who grew up in a family of criminals. There is a lot of information on the psychology of how you con or scam someone or get others to believe your lies. Cassel's is a pretty unique perspective and you can tell the author really did her research into making his voice that of a young con-man.

Bonus Factor: Magic Prohibition

It was really great to read urban fiction that didn't take the usual route of having something magical or supernatural that, against all odds, remains hidden from the rest of the world. In this universe, curse work is real, everyone (including the government) knows about it. Which makes it interesting to see the legal and social ramifications of a large number of the population being able to perform spells or curses. Plus, I really enjoyed the creation of a whole new, unique type of magical people, instead of the author just going with wizards or supernatural creatures.

Bonus Factors: The Mob

Once curse work was banned in America, organized crime grew. And Cassel's family's involvement with the Zacharov crime family lets us witness some mob-related power struggles.

Casting Call:

Booboo Stewart as Cassel

Man, Booboo Stewart is really growing up and gettin' dreamy! Anyone else think he's the member of the wolf pack who should be getting leading role and not Taylor "the llama" Lautner? I think Booboo has the looks and the attitude to pull of being a handsome young con-man like Cassel.

Relationship Status: Why Did I Avoid This Book Again?

I really can't put my finger on what it is that kept me from reading this book earlier. But somehow, at some point, I had convinced myself that I wouldn't enjoy it. Maybe I thought it was just some formulaic paranormal/urban romance. Whatever it was, I was wrong. This book felt fresh despite being in a genre that typically feels stale to me. And every time I thought "oh, I know exactly what's going on here" the book would remind me "yes, I know you know, but there's more!" I want to learn more about the book's universe and spend more time there. Often when I finish a book with a sequel, even if I liked the book, I rarely pick up the next one anytime soon. And yet here I am...desperately wanting to know what is going to happen next with this book and thinking I need to get my hands on it, and soon.

Megan Crane's photo About the Author: Megan is an unabashed fangirl who is often in a state of panic about her inability to watch, read and play all the things.