By Holly Black
This Christmas, I’m spending the holiday with Tom’s family in Arizona, so I grabbed White Cat off of my to-read shelf on my way out the door to the airport. We had managed to get a nonstop, five-hour flight to Phoenix, and I had intended to take a nice long nap through most of it. Instead, I did nothing but read this book, and finished all but the last 50 pages by the time we landed, which I promptly finished that night.
Author Holly Black builds a very interesting world with crime families that deal in illegal magic that can control or kill others with just a touch of the hand.* Our protagonist (I don’t quite want to call him a hero) is introduced to us as the youngest son of a somewhat minor crime family and the only member without a magical ability, so he struggles to remain equal to the other members through mundane cons.
The brilliant thing about the book is that the whole thing is a string of cons, making up one giant one, and the reader is along for the ride. It is one of those rare narratives where each twist surprised me as it came up, but also made absolute sense in retrospect.
One of the praise blurbs on the inside cover of the book describes it as “part X-Men and part Sopranos,” and for some reason I find that really kind of off-putting, even though I enjoyed both of those. However, after having finished the book, I had to agree that it is a pretty good description, but instead of the amalgam of the kind of crappy parts of both, which is what I immediately feared, it takes the best of both and makes something even better.
The sequel, Red Glove, is already out, and I’m going to track that down as soon as I get home (although, I also now need a book for my flight home again), and then the third book of the trilogy, Black Heart, is due in April 2013.
Anyway, happy holidays to you all, and I hope you get lots of good books for presents!
*Very minor spoiler and pet peeve: since a bare touch of a hand can be so dangerous, everyone is this world wears gloves, which I found vaguely interesting until they put in details like “licking the grease from the French fries off of the gloves” that both makes it so much more realistic, and somehow just really grosses the hell out of me.