Saturday, July 14, 2012

Book #31 of 2012: "Red Glove" by Holly Black

The first book I read in July was Holly Black's Red Glove, which is the sequel to her White Cat.  These books and her recently published Black Heart comprise the Curse Workers trilogy.

I read White Cat last year for one of my librarian master's classes.  I have to admit that I didn't really like it.  In my review of the books I read in 2011, I described it by saying, "While this is the first book in a series, I spent most of the book feeling like I had jumped in in the middle of a story, trying to figure out what in the heck was going on. It's about magicians, who can control thoughts, dreams, and actions by just touching your skin. Lots going on, and I felt like I didn't really get with the program until the very end."  However, I am very glad that I stuck with the series and continued to the second book, because it was much better (or maybe it was just that I understood the premise when starting this book).

Cassel Sharpe was born into a family of curse workers, but he didn't think that he had any powers himself.  In White Cat, he learns that he has been repeatedly "worked" by his brothers to help them in their dealings with what is essentially magical mafia... and his memories have been erased each time, so he has no recollection of what he has done.  Red Glove picks up where White Cat left off.  While Cassel manages to save two lives and semi-redeem one of his brothers in White Cat, he has to deal with the fallout of these actions in Red Glove.  Both the mob and the feds try to bribe/blackmail him into using his powers to work for them.  He is manipulated into investigating his brother's murder--which leads him to discover several murders that he himself has committed (and have been erased from his memory).  Meanwhile, the government is trying to pass a new law that will require all "workers" to be identified--a serious invasion of privacy.

I had a hard time mastering all the characters in the first book, but thankfully, very few new characters were introduced in this one, so I felt like they were much better developed.  It was also helpful that Cassel actually knows what's going on around him during this book, since his memory loss made the first book even more confusing.  Cassel truly wants to do the right thing, to protect his family and his friends, but he's faced with a lot of choices that offer no good alternative.  Everyone in his life seems to believe that he's dangerous and dark at heart, so I'll be very interested to see how his character turns out in Black Heart.  My favorite thing about this book was Holly Black's writing, which includes a lot of sarcasm and funny one-liners in Cassel's voice.  Her Modern Faerie Tale trilogy (Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside) is also on my "to read" list.

Overall, I'd recommend the Curse Workers trilogy to anyone who thinks they might be intrigued by a story of magic and the mob.  I'd forewarn you that the start of the series is a little rough, but the second book is well worth it.  Stay tuned to hear how I like the trilogy's conclusion...

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