Title: Red Glove
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
May Contain Spoilers
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 emotion 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.
I love Holly Black’s Curse Worker series. White Cat was a big surprise for me, because it seemed like it came out of nowhere. I downloaded the free sample from Amazon to test out my (then) new iPad, and I couldn’t stop reading it. White Cat was the second ebook that I purchased – The Enemy by Charlie Higson was the first, if you’re curious, and it, too, was a book that was outside of my normal reading zone. I loved them both, and never would have read them if I hadn’t made that impulse purchase of my iPad (yes, I am just as susceptible to hype as everyone else).
I love the way Holly Black messes with your mind. You don’t know who to believe or who to trust because everyone is trying to pull a con. I think the only one in Cassel’s family who was straight with him was his grandfather. His mom and his brothers don’t seem to have much use for him, except for when they are getting read to pull a scam or have job they need to carry out. Then they put the pressure on him to lend a hand, and they pull the family obligation card if he resists. And here I thought my family can be needy and demanding. They are nothing compared to Cassel’s. His mom definitely needs to attend parenting classes; no wonder he wants to stay at his boarding school!
I don’t want to spoil any of the plot, so I’m not going to delve into it. Instead, I’m going to discuss the nuts and bolts of the world of the curse workers and why I enjoy it so much. Much of this is a reiteration of my review of White Cat. I love the “magic” system here, and I find it so much more believable because there is a price to be paid when a curse worker uses their talents. That only seems fair, right? If you have the ability to kill someone with the briefest touch, a little bit of you should die as well. If you can snatch away someone’s memory, you should have to sacrifice some of yours, too. That would make you think twice before cheating and resorting to your powers to get ahead in life, don’t you think?
Well, no, not when you work for the mob. That is the other fun part of this world. Cassel comes from a long line of mobsters. Why is that? Because his family is full of curse workers, and everybody hates them! Why? Because they cheat! They use their powers to get ahead in the world, and that’s just not right! Curse workers are illegal, and the government is trying to mandate testing so that each and every one of them can be identified and labeled. What’s next? Brainwashing? Internment camps? Capital punishment? With politicians these days, you never know!
Red Glove is a great book, and it is different from most of the YA novels out there. I liked the male point of view, and I think that Cassel is a great character. Somehow he ended up a decent guy, and with his less than stable family, that says a lot about his strength of character. I enjoyed the time I spent with him, and I can hardly wait for the next book in the series! If you haven’t read these, give them a chance; I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Grade: B+ leaning towards an A-
Review copy provided by publisher