The perfect con, a couple of intense twists, a sociopath or two, and an engaging and exhilarating adventure in a world filled with magic and mobsters. That was White Cat, Holly Black’s first installment in the Curseworkers series. It was a huge favorite of mine last year. Need evidence? Check it out. So I’ve been waiting not-very-patiently for the sequel, and more of quirky, clever Cassel.
The follow-up, Red Glove, was released two weeks ago. I reminded my brother Joey of this by text (he was excited). We read it at the same time, then called to rehash. The burning question: how did it go?
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, he isn’t sure he can believe anything she says or does.
Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead 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.
Did Red Glove live up to expectations? Were the mysteries and cons fresh and the twists convincing? Did I feel a deep sense of satisfaction at the trickiness? Unfortunately, the answer was somewhere in the region of ‘sort-of.’ It’s hard to maintain the same level of excellence and excitement from book to book. I know this. And while parts of Red Glove felt just as wonderful as the first in the series, other bits felt like solid ‘second-in-a-trilogy’ material.
The things Red Glove did right: character development (oh Cassel, you tortured soul, you), set-up for interesting third book shenanigans (mob! Feds! revelations galore!), and further explanation of the world of cons, curses and magic. I got delightful shivers down my spine whenever one of the characters seemed hard and calculating. That part was rather strange and all awesome.
On the flip side, there were some negatives. First: the con itself. I wanted more, better, and a thrill to boot. I won’t spoil it – you should definitely read this series for yourself. But you may see what I mean when you compare books 1 & 2.
Another bit I didn’t find satisfying was the relationship development. There’s a technique of leaving thoughts or actions to the reader’s imagination, and just giving us reaction. We don’t need play-by-play in EVERY young adult novel out there. However…in this case it I was legitimately confused. I read scenes over to make sure I hadn’t skimmed something important to making sense of the situation. I couldn’t help but feel that either I was stupid, or it didn’t gel. Probably I am stupid.
My brother and I agreed that we are both SUPER excited for book number three, Black Heart. So despite the below-expectations results of Red Glove, the enjoyment remains undiminished, the excitement unabated, and the wait far too long. We will be back for more!
Recommended for: lovers of young adult literature, fantasy, crime and cleverness, and the ever-elusive boy reader. Also – anyone who enjoyed White Cat, casual fans of the Oceans 11, 12 and 13 films, and anyone looking for a bit of harmless (we hope!), entertaining darkness with their springtime reading.