Red Glove and Black Heart

By Holly Black

I previously reviewed the first in this trilogy, White Cat, which I absolutely loved. I can’t really review these subsequent books, though, because it is the kind of series where even reading the back blurb of each book gives away brilliant twist endings from the previous book. I can’t just not review them, though, because they are awesome! I wanted another chance to tell everyone to go out and read the whole series. I swear you’ll just devour all three in one lost weekend of literary debauchery!

Book Cover: Red GloveAnyway, without any spoilers for any of the books, Red Glove really brought home to me what I love so much about these books: they are noir mysteries, full of old school gangsters and con men and corrupt cops, but also noir-lite, set in high school, or rather an up-scale preparatory school. Our protagonist is classic teen boy, often angry and with poor decision-making skills, but is also a very amusing and often clever smart-ass.

Red Glove spends more time in the school itself than White Cat, which I appreciated. I really love world-building and just the mundane details of the school life were fascinating to me (I especially loved the school scenes in Harry Potter, too).

Book Cover: Black HeartEach book, too, gets a little wider in scope. White Cat deals with the protagonist’s direct family, while Red Glove extends more into the criminal world surrounding the family (I swear, these are all elements introduced right off the bat, and not spoilers). Black Heart goes even further and deals with the politics and government of the world. Unfortunately, I believe that this series has been planned as a trilogy with no subsequent books anticipated, though I would be a happy reader if Holly Black decided to revisit it.


White Cat

By Holly Black

Book Cover: White CatThis 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.