Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Red Glove by Holly Black
STOP. If you haven't read White Cat, then do not read any of this post! The book jacket basically reveals every plot twist of the first book, so DO NOT READ IT. Seriously. That book will make your brain explode, and I don't want to deprive you of that sensation. If you have read White Cat, then by all means, continue.
Curses and cons. Magic and the mob.
In Cassel Sharpe's world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth--he's the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything--or anyone--into something else.
That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she's human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila's been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotio-worker mom. And if Lila's love is as phony as Cassel's made-up memories, then he can't believe anything she says or does.
When Cassel's oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue--crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too--they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can't trust anyone--least of all, himself?
Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.
Guys, I love this book So. Much. It has been a long time since I've read a book in one day, but let me tell you, there was no way I was going to sleep before knowing how the events in Red Glove would wrap up. Satisfactorily, that's how, in case you were wondering.
How to begin describing the depth and the motivation of my love for Black's Curseworker series? In my review of White Cat, I talked about the realistic and fantastic world of magic and the con artists that she created. I didn't mention one of my favorite parts of that world--blowback. I've talked before about my belief that all stories with magic need to have rules and consequences. Blowback is the perfect example.
There are many kinds of curseworkers (magicians to you uninitiated, though they are never called that). Luck workers, emotion workers, death workers, etc. After the worker has done his job, he suffers blowback, in the same form of work he did! So if a luck worker gives good luck, he receives good luck in return. If she kills someone, part of her body dies (hopefully a finger, but it could be your heart). If he makes you feel ecstatic, he feels ecstatic too. You can see the awesome ramifications. A person ought to do good to others, because they will receive the same. But if and when workers choose to abuse their power, they feel the pain they inflict on others.
The way Black plays with good and bad, both in magic and in characters, is the absolute best part of her series. Characters we read as good do some truly horrible things. In fact, if we didn't have the bias the author gives us, and simply read facts about a person, I'm guessing we would have wildly different opinions of characters. (Seriously, Cassel's entire family is fairly despicable, and yet I love them.) Similarly, bad characters sometimes do good things. There's all shades of gray in Red Glove, even in characters I previously held above suspect.
As for the plot, I have to backtrack to my feelings about White Cat. I enjoyed the first 3/4 of the book, but it was the last fourth, when revelation after con after surprise made me absolutely fall in love. The ending of Red Glove was less intense (probably because the plot twists were less personal to Cassel, and therefore us), but first 3/4 of the book was way better, in my opinion.
The whole book was solid, and I loved seeing minor characters take a more prominent part in this sequel (Cassel's mom is all kinds of crazy, Sam and Daneca are perfect best friends). Lila is surprisingly tame in this book, due to her being under a love curse and all. It really made me realize the horror of love work, because she was a completely different character. BUT judging by the end of the book, I'm eagerly anticipating the return of fierce Lila in the third book! And Cassel? He is once again a fascinating character. Is he good? Is he bad? We don't know, and he certainly doesn't know either. But I will read about him for ten thousand pages, I don't care. He's fantastic.
Five out of five standard poodles.
Release Date: April 2011
Reading Level: Grade 9+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: YPL BLA
Don't believe me? Check out these reviews of Red Glove:
Addicted 2 Novels
That's What She Read