"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." -Ray Bradbury

Sunday, May 30, 2010

On Holly Black (White Cat)

Okay, Holly, you've got me hooked.  Maybe it was the fact that you own an adorable Sphinx cat, I don't know.

I've been reading Black's work for years; I own all the Spiderwick books, read my way through the Tithe trilogy, and somehow have missed reading a few of her other titles, such as The Good Neighbors.  When I worked as a bookseller, I recommended her titles in place of Twilight lesser-quality YA fiction.  I liked her stuff.  I liked her gusty heroines and her twisted love stories.

And then White Cat came along, first catching my eye in the bookstore's new releases shelves.  We flirted online, this book and I, and I naively thought I could wait, be patient.  Then, after reading a few reviews on YALSA, the booklust kicked in.  I stopped by Barnes & Noble a local bookstore and picked up a copy.

For one, the cover is a gorgeous, lush affair, even it's a bit misleading (the cat in the novel is a shorthair); with the sensuality of the young man's leather gloves twined in the cat's fur leaping off the page.  The color palette: red, white, and gobs of gleeful black.  For once, the cover does an excellent job of conveying the novel's tone: dark, slick, and smooth.

But who cares about a book's cover, right?  We care about the novel's insides, the guts, the inner workings.

White Cat is about a boy.  A murdered best friend.  A curse. . . and a family of curse workers trying to survive in a world that fears them.  Let me tell you, readers, you will need to pay attention to every detail Black feeds you to stay one step ahead of her slick son-of-an-emotion-worker, Cassel Sharpe.  

I like Cassel as a character, he's tough, smart, and resilient.  Black's done a wondrous job of capturing not only his voice, but his thoughts and emotions as well.  The rest of the cast--Cassel's eccentric grandfather, his brothers, and his schoolmates--are equally intriguing (though many of them don't enjoy much page time).

There's no excess storytelling here: the novel is honed like a blade, cutting quick and fast into the reader.  It's unputdownable in the best possible way, woven from threads of curious characters, the drip of important details, and strong writing.  With some foundation in fairytale, White Cat puts a new, dark spin on the magic user's narrative, plunging Cassel into the dangerous world of organized crime, murder, and lies. 

The biggest surprise lies in the book's final pages, so prepare thyself, reader.  No cliffhangers here, but know that White Cat will be the first novel in The Curse Workers series.

Readers should note that White Cat contains some dark fantasy violence and light language.

Four stars, of five.

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to read it, I'm adding it to my good reads right now!