White Cat. Black, Holly. Listening Library. 2010. Audiobook $40.00. ISBN 9780307711816.
Hey, I finally caught up with the rest of the world and read White Cat! I loved Holly Black's previous books about faeries, and this book was even more amazing. How does she do it?!
White Cat is a smart, exhilarating mashup of mafia, magic, and mystery. The story is set in a world much like ours, but with a fundamental difference: there are curse workers, people with magical powers. Those who don't have powers see magic as an unfair advantage, and so curse working has become a criminal activity. The protagonist, a high school boy named Cassel, is the only member of his family without magical abilities. But he can still work a good con.
This book is seriously brilliant. The plot is tightly woven and well paced, full of twists and turns as information assumed to be true at the beginning often turns out to be something else entirely. Through the first-person narration, the reader discovers surprising truths just as Cassel does. A fascinating, multi-layered cast of characters cleverly plays into mafia cliches at times, and other times plays against them. I have a total soft spot for Cassel's brusque but loving granddad, and his geeky, loyal boarding school roommate, Sam.
I can't get over the way Black constructs the insanely clever cons in this book. She provides the reader with just enough information so we think we know what the plan might be, but details are intentionally withheld to heighten the suspense as events play out- and this strategy definitely kept me on the edge of my seat.
I listened to this book on CD, and I enjoyed the audiobook experience. Although I'm not sure Jesse Eisenberg's characterization of Cassel is how I would have heard his voice in my head if I had read the print version, he really captured the character's youthfulness (one of my audiobook pet peeves is when the reader sounds way too old for their role!), and his East Coast accent was perfect for this book.
The sequel, Red Glove, is in bookstores TODAY! I can't wait to pick it up; I know it's going to be a great ride.