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 mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, 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.
Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts 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, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.
With White Cat, Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love -- or death -- and your dreams might be more real than your memories.
Holly Black, bestselling author of Tithe, Ironside, and The Spiderwick Chronicles (to name a very few), has a reputation which precedes her in the best possible way. My most-respected grad-school colleagues and aficionados of urban fantasy have had nothing but lavish praise for her work, and likewise her original acquiring editor at my old stomping grounds of Simon & Schuster. When she came to speak at my Vermont College Alumni Mini-Residency this past July on the subject of world-building, I knew I was in for a treat.
Holly's opening words of wisdom? When considering one's writing, it is best to keep in mind that "hard things are hard." Believe you me, it's a bon mot I've trotted out on many occasions since.
It is perhaps precisely because Holly has such abiding respect for the value of solid world-building that her new series draws so compelling a parallel between the black market of magic and such historical prohibitions of vices like alcohol. Her newest urban fantasy is in point of fact a smooth exercise in hardboiled noir that deftly synthesizes genres in a way that should captivate fans old and new.
December's theme at readergirlz is Compassion, and I imagine there are a myriad of ways that the theme could be applied to White Cat: compassion for a society living with seemingly unreasonable restrictions; compassion for a teen boy uncertain of his place in the world. Compassion, indeed, for the writer, who grapples with the minutia of authentic, believable world-building.