Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Publication Date: May 4, 2010
Series: Curse Workers #1
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
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 certainly built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade 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 outcon the conmen.
Cassel is a loner and his mind is always working like that of a conman, something instilled in him by his mother. He doesn't fit in with his family of curse workers, and he holds himself at a distance from his fellow classmates at school. He keeps the secret that he killed his best friend close to himself and he suffers from the partial memory of it. He's clever. He doesn't fit in, but he doesn't bemoan the fact. He has a dark past. And he knows that he's done bad things. He isn't a bad guy, but he worries that he is. And as things start to get weird, he begins uncovering secrets.
This world in which curse workers exist is not so unlike our own, aside from this one bit of magic. The inclusion of the mobster aspect enhances the curse working and reinforces the sinister potential that those with these abilities possess. Combining the curses and the mafia gives the story an edge and a uniqueness that I can appreciate. The plot moves along steadily, fueled by Cassel's curious struggle to uncover the truth, and the conclusion is satisfying.
If you like urban fantasy, mystery, danger, and magic, then you will probably enjoy White Cat.