white cat book coverReviewed by Elizabeth T.

Cassel Sharpe comes from a family of curse workers. These people can manipulate other individuals or things, such as luck, emotion, death, transformation, among others. Using their powers is illegal, so most of these workers are either con artists or in the mafia. This includes all of Cassel’s immediately family, except for him. He has no special abilities and is the odd one out in his family.

Despite having no powers, Cassel is still involved in crime, including killing his best friend (and mafia princess) Lila three years ago. While his mother is in jail, he tries to lead a relatively normal life and create an identity for himself separate from his family. Everything changes when he has a dream that a white cat ate his tongue and he chases it down, only to wake up on the roof of his dorm with no way of getting down. He is temporarily kicked out of school only to be plunged into the craziness that is his family once more. He knows that his brothers are keeping things from him. How can he figure out anything when he doesn’t even know if his own memories are real?

I have never before read a book by Holly Black because they did not appeal to me for one reason or another. Now, I’m kicking myself because White Cat was easily one of my favorite young adult books. Cassel Sharpe is a great protagonist. He’s smart, clever, and cynical, but at his core, he’s a good person. Although the reader knows at the outset that he has committed a horrible crime, Holly Black manages to make him a sympathetic and relatable character.

The alternate universe in White Cat is utterly unique and detailed. The reader is just thrown into a world almost like the one we live in, but slightly different, without any initial explanations. Then things begin to unfold and make sense as you go along. This device is very similar to many adult science fiction books, but if you’re looking for a paranormal romance story, you won’t find it here. This world is flawed and gritty. It’s a place where the endings aren’t happy and the people are far from perfect. The story is suspenseful, breathtaking, and infuriating at points. Some plot twists were predictable, but others seemed to slap me across the face and I really enjoyed trying to sort out the truth alongside Cassel.

I highly recommend to just about everyone and I am going to be one of the first to buy the next book in the series. And before that, I need to go out and read the rest of her books as soon as possible.

Elizabeth is a student at Cal State Long Beach. She laughs a lot, loves cats, and lives for music and books. You can read her blog here.

This book was provided free of any obligation by Margaret K. McElderry Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.