Summary from Amazon:
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. And since curse work is illegal, they’re all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn’t got magic, so he’s an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail – he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.
The Curse Worker series has been on my radar for awhile. The concept really intrigued me. This whole idea of Curse Workers was something new to me, and I really liked the covers and titles. But, I had read Tithe by Holly Black a few years ago, and I was all that in love (or in like, for that matter) with it, so I wasn’t sure I wanted to try another Holly Black book. But, I thought I would give the audiobook a try. I often find that books that I’m afraid I won’t read with my eyes, I’ll enjoy as an audiobook. Obviously, it was a good decision on my part. I ended up really enjoying White Cat.
Truth: I love a good conman story. However, I don’t think it’s always that easy to pull off. For example, my favorite conman story is actually a musical: The Music Man. I love the original film with Robert Preston. He’s fantastic as Harold Hill, because even though we all know he’s tricking the whole town, we still like him and root for him. Now, ABC did a remake of the movie with Matthew Broderick as Harold Hill, and I really didn’t like that movie. I love Matthew Broderick, but I just didn’t like his Harold Hill. Broderick wasn’t able to make Harold Hill all that likable, in my opinion.
Holly Black, however, does a wonderful job of developing Cassel’s character. He’s not perfect, and he’s a damn fine conman, but I still liked him, and wanted him to succeed. Even knowing that Cassel murdered his best friend, Lila (Not a spoiler! It’s in the summary), I still liked Cassel. But man, Cassel has got some problems!
I guess first I should tell you about Curse Workers. In this world, there are regular humans, and a very select few who are known as Curse Workers. They are born with a special ability, whether it’s the ability of change people’s emotions, to make people dream, or to even kill people. But these curse workers must touch you with their hand, skin to skin, for their powers to work. Therefore, everyone always wears gloves as a protection. The curse workers in the U.S. aren’t really liked much, and usually end up working for mafia families.
Anyway, Cassel is from a family of Curse Workers. His mother, father, grandfather, and two older brothers are all curse workers with different powers. Cassel, however, is not a worker, and it’s definitely something he struggles with. Cassel not being a worker, and those whole killing his best friend thing really makes him feel like an outsider. I could really relate to Cassel, because I think we all have those feelings of being just a little bit different from the rest of the family.
Speaking of family, Cassel’s family frustrated me to no end, particularly his brother. I’m an only child, and although I loved that growing up, now as an adult, I would give just about anything to have a sibling I could be close with. So to see Cassel and his brothers being a bit estranged really saddened me. The whole family dynamic, though, felt very authentic, and Black did a wonderful job portraying it.
The plot of White Cat was very interesting, if a bit predictable at times. I really didn’t mind some of the predictability, though, because I was so fixated on how Cassel was going to solve any problems that came his way. He’s such an intelligent boy, and I couldn’t get enough of his thoughts.
The audiobook production was excellent. Jesse Eisenberg narrates, and I have to say he totally rocks as Cassel’s voice. I wasn’t sure, going in, if I would like Eisenberg’s narration because I’ve always found his voice a bit grating, but I was wrong to have those apprehensions. I can’t imagine anyone else narrating this book, now, and will definitely be listening to the remaining two books in the trilogy.
White Cat is full of mystery, intrigue, and well-developed characters that I just couldn’t get enough of. White Cat isn’t really scary, but I also found this the perfect autumn read. And although I found the ending a bit heartbreaking, I can’t wait to jump into book two: Red Glove.