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White Cat (Curse Workers, Book 1) [Hardcover]

Holly Black
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 4 2010
The first in a trilogy, this gritty, fast-paced fantasy is rife with the unexpected. Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn’t fit in at home or at school, so he’s used to feeling like an outsider. He’s also used to feeling guilty—he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.

But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, and people around him are losing their memories, he starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas— and a plan to con the conmen.

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This novel is eerie and dark, with terrifying secrets and evil plots. Black weaves a beautiful world where magic exists and is feared. You'll see how backstabbing your loved ones is just as easy as loving them. This starter to a sure-to-be-a-hit series shouldn't be missed.

Summary: Curse working is illegal, and curse workers are branded as scoundrels and con artists. Cassel is the only one in his family who's not a curse worker. Although he's the "straight" kid in a cursed family, he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago. How he's having terrifying dreams of a white cat and suspects a secret plot between his brothers. He'll have to unravel his past to out-con the people he thought he knew best. — ROMANTIC TIMES BOOK REVIEWS, May 2010

* "Beautifully realized dark fantasy" - Publishers Weekly, starred review

* "Urban fantasy, con story, coming of age--whatever you call it, read it." - Kirkus Reviews, starred review

About the Author

Holly Black is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books for kids and teens. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. She has been a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award, a finalist for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of both an Andre Norton Award and a Newbery Honor. She lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret door. Visit her at BlackHolly.com.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique premise and a fantastic male protagonist! Jan. 25 2013
By Darlene TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
This book has won a number of literary awards, including:
Kirkus Reviews Best Books List for Teens (2010), ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults 2011 List, ALA Amazing Audiobooks List, and Andre Norton 2010 Award Nominee for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Black has created an alternate reality where people called "curse workers" exist. A curse worker is someone who has the ability to make things happen by touch with a bare hand. Some workers can manipulate emotions, while others can transfigure objects and even cause death. A worker will experience something called "blowback" after using their skills, which is a reaction that affects the worker. For example, a memory worker's own memories might become compromised. Curse work has been banned, and everyone wears gloves. Some people are not even aware that they have the ability to do curse work. Because of the nature of their abilities, curse workers are often employed by the mob.

At the beginning of the book, we are introduced to a 17 year-old boy named Cassel Sharpe. He attends Wallingford Preparatory School in New Jersey. He has had a dream of a white cat and awakens to discover that he is on the roof of the school. Students and teachers assume that he is contemplating suicide, and he tries to explain that he must have been sleepwalking. The headmaster bans him from the dormitory and, to protect the school from a liability, insists that Cassel provide a clean bill of health from a doctor before he is permitted to return to the dorms. Cassel has to return to his childhood home, which has been vacant a long time since his mother is in prison. His grandfather stays there with them.

Cassel is the only member of the family who is not a curse worker, so he feels a bit like the odd man out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Secrets of the white cat May 16 2010
Curse workers -- they can change luck, emotions, dreams and even more just by touching your skin. And since curse work is illegal, they work as con artists or part of mob families.

Having sparked off the teen-girl-encounters-faerie-world craze, Holly Black easily slips into a very different kind of urban fantasy in "White Cat," the first book in the Curse Workers series. The idea is a pretty simple one, but Black twists and knots it into an elaborate, many-shaded fantasy story, with plenty of blood, mystery and magic.

Years ago, Cassel Sharpe killed his best friend Lila -- he doesn't know why or what happened, but he knows he did. And after Cassel sleepwalks onto a roof (and into Youtube fame), he ends up suspended from his school and back in the junk-filled family mansion. As he waits to get back in, he encounters a white stray cat hanging around the barn -- the same cat that has been in his dreams recently.

Other strange clues begin to crop up: a memory charm, strange behavior from his sister-in-law, and the gaps in his own memory. Little by little, Cassel begins to realize that the cat is Lila -- someone with the rarest kind of power has transformed her into a cat, and to change her back he'll have to find out who it is. But as he tries to figure out who transformed Lila and why, he discovers the secrets that have been painstakingly removed from his own head -- and the elaborate, deadly scheme that he's being forced into.

It's pretty obvious from the beginning of "White Cat" that there is more going on than meets the eye, and Holly Black spends most of the book delicately unwinding the various tangled schemes and secrets.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, Dangerous & Delicious May 15 2010
By Nicola Mansfield HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Reason for Reading: I'm a fan of the author.

Set in an alternate reality almost identical to the Earth we live in with one small difference, some people are born with a special ability which is called a "curse". One must touch another's skin for the effects to take place. These "curse workers" are a minority of the population and their curses range from luck to changing emotions to causing death. In this world everyone wears gloves to keep everyone safe from "curses". No one knows who may be a "worker" but working itself has been deemed illegal.

In this world Cassell finds himself the only non-worker in a family of workers. His family, along with others who have a strong heritage of workers, are what we would call organized crime families, mobsters and con artists. Since Cassell can't "work" he at least has honed his skills as a con artist. But his life starts to unravel when he finds himself sleepwalking, having dreams sent from a white cat and beginning to notice some unaccounted for events in his life. His brothers act strangely when he asks them about it and Cassell begins to feel that perhaps he is the subject of a huge con himself.

I loved every word of this book! I was hooked from the first sentence and couldn't continue with my regular life until I had finished the book. The world Black creates here is very dark and dangerous. One wonders if any character can truly be trusted and the main character himself is not exactly an honest citizen. The direction the story takes is surprising and makes compelling reading. The unexpected actions of characters, including Cassell himself, are shocking and yet as one gets to know them not out of character at all. In this world of dark magic and crime the back stabbing characters are always at each other and it's as matter of magic against magic and wits against wits. The ending is absolutely brilliant and so appropriate! Don't expect any happy, happy, joy, joy ending here! I can't wait for book two!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book
It kept you guessing and needing more!
Published 2 months ago by Allison
4.0 out of 5 stars main character had no personality, but White Cat was a fun read with a...
I liked the old cover, but I do like this one better. It's really neat how the whole illustration is drawn from a bunch of circles. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Fantasy's Ink
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, and really really good.
The story is a little complex from the start, and it was a little hard to get into without figuring out the facts first. Read more
Published on April 4 2011 by Karoline
4.0 out of 5 stars Dreaming of Books Review
(May contain spoilers)

Cassel is from a family of curse workers and is the only one that doesn't have the magic touch. Read more
Published on March 27 2011 by Jenny "Dreaming of Books"
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Amazing Holly Black Story
***May contain spoilers***

I am not going to lie, this is the most complex/ complicated book I have read in some time (and by complicated I do not mean "the author... Read more
Published on Feb. 20 2011 by Avery Greaves
3.0 out of 5 stars An 'okay' Holly Black book
I've read the Tithe trilogy and that was interesting. Actually, after i finished reading each of the Tithe books, i was blown away. But this book was okay. Read more
Published on Oct. 7 2010 by Cozy Evenings with a Book
5.0 out of 5 stars Instant Classic
The previous reviewers have done an excellent and comprehensive job of describing "White Cat", so I won't add to their description of the plot/narrative. Read more
Published on July 11 2010 by Callanit
5.0 out of 5 stars Come be worked over by Holly Black
Holly Black is fast becoming one of my favourite female authors. I now rank her with Terry Tempest Williams, Madeleine L'Engle and Kathy Shaidle. Read more
Published on May 7 2010 by Steven R. McEvoy
4.0 out of 5 stars Original lore!
White Cat was fan-tas-tic. Holly Black created a world (and an different world history) where workers are known and feared by the public. Read more
Published on May 4 2010 by Tynga's Reviews
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