Okay, okay, I get it now. It took me a while to appreciate Holly Black's work. I started with her co-written series The Spiderwick Chronicles (which, by the way, I actually listened to as an audio book, read by the ever-amazing Mark Hamill!!—I *highly* recommend it), which admittedly targeted a slightly younger audience than her usual crew. Then I read Tithe, which for some reason I just really didn't get into at the time (I'm tempted to go back and reread it now). So I put Holly Black away on a back shelf for a while and moved on.
Then, I heard that both Holly Black AND Cassandra Clare are coming to Third Place Books in Seattle to promote their newest releases! TWO young adult writers in one night, for free? What?!? So, of course, I answered the call of duty and picked up both Holly Black's White Cat, which is the prequel to her new release Red Glove and Cassandra Clare's City Of Bones, which I actually had read AGES ago and never picked up the sequel. Lucky me, now I can read all the way through her newest release The City Of Fallen Angels without interruption. Hey, sometimes being behind the times is a good thing!!
So let me talk with you about White Cat for the moment. Great book. Late-middle-school and up, if you're curious, due to some party scenes and adult situations. I'd let a 14 year old read it if they seemed mature enough. I love stories that are set solidly in an alternate world, where the magical elements of that world are seamlessly integrated into the over-all story. In this world, people can be "workers", able to manipulate various elements of the human condition from emotions to memories and beyond. Holly Black's strength here is assuming we already know this, but in a way that never borders on confusing. Huh? Yes, of course everyone has to wear gloves because no one can touch each other due to potentially hazardous magical workings. Duh, of course. Old news.
And so, with the alternate world of Holly Black's imagination clearly set, we engage immediately in a story of Cassel, who awakens to find himself on the roof ledge of his boarding school with no memory of getting there. He only recalls dreaming about a white cat. After being sent home, we find he is the youngest brother of three in a family of low-level criminals, all of whom are Curse Workers. His mother is in jail for using her emotion-working powers, and his brothers are both involved in the local cartel of semi-magical thugs. Only Cassel is ungifted and has always been told he is basically a dud——or is he? As he continues to be plagued by a white cat—both in reality and in his dreams—he begins to unravel the mystery surrounding his own potential, his past, and his family.
Red Glove promises to be a stellar second installment in the Curse Workers series. If you're a Seattle local, check out Holly and Cassandra (oh yeah, we're on first-name basis) at Third Place books. Otherwise, you can check out her appearances here to see if she is coming to a bookstore near you!