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Book: White Cat by Holly Black (first of the Curse Workers series)
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural, Horror
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (Simon & Schuster)
Publication date: 2010
Hardcover: 320 pages
White Cat is on many Mock-Printz award long lists

White Cat cover imageSummary: Smart, cynical and world-weary at the age of 16, Cassel Sharpe is trying to keep a low profile at his snooty, prestigious boarding school. He must, as his status of coming from a “curse working” family makes him a not-so-palatable member of society. It’s a double curse, then, that not only is he the only unmagical member of his family, but a nightmare sleep-walking incident almost causes him to jump off the roof of his dorm. Temporarily kicked out of school until a doctor can certify that he is mentally stable enough to come back, Cassel becomes motivated to try to unravel all the secrets of his strange family. To tell you more than this would be to ruin the beauty of the twisted yet exciting world that Holly Black has created.

To whom will this appeal?: White Cat will appeal to the teen and adult lover of urban fantasy, especially those who like twists and turns in the plot that will keep them on their toes as they try to figure out what is going on. Holly Black is great at creating a gritty, true-sounding, alternative world in which the rules of society become apparent without needing to be made explicit in some sort of rule book. The dark tone is balanced by the protagonist’s sarcastic and understated humor. One must be comfortable with a certain level of violence and suspense to truly enjoy the book. If you liked the dark sardonic tone of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, you might like this, although it’s not quite a read-alike. (Maybe it’s a read-along?)

July 2020