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White Cat: The Curse Workers, Book One | [Holly Black]

White Cat: The Curse Workers, Book One

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they'e all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn't got magic, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail - he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago
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Publisher's Summary

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they'e all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn't got magic, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail - he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to outcon the conmen.

©2010 Holly Black (P)2010 Random House

What Members Say

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  •  
    Dave Whittier, CA 04-20-12
    Dave Whittier, CA 04-20-12 Member Since 2010

    I'm a big fan of SF/F/Horror, and all things in between and out.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Holly Black's Next Great Trick"

    With White Cat, Holly Black's created a world where magic (or "working") was outlawed during prohibition. So, naturally today - business is booming for the mafia and their curse workers. Cassel's a teenage kid who doesn't fit in at the rich preppy boarding school he's been forced to attend, and he doesn't quite fit in with his family of con artists - most of who work for the mob. He doesn't have the working talents his brothers do, but he knows cons. When he finds himself about to take a walk off a rooftop in his sleep, he starts to think someone's playing him.

    Black's YA books have a dark, gritty feel to them, and this one's no different. But at the same time, it's incredible fun listening as her story's long cons play out and are eventually revealed.

    Jesse Eisenberg does a great job reading this - his performance is practiced nonchalance and low-key, so much so that you can't help wondering if he's just playing the odds and misdirecting your attention, making the magic feel all the more real and surprising.

    Highly recommended if you like magic, gangsters, and con-artists.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Fortune Louisville, KY United States 12-18-11
    John Fortune Louisville, KY United States 12-18-11 Member Since 2001

    Louisville John

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A light coming of age, urban fantasy, mob book"

    This book held my attention for its outstanding narration, light and interesting character and fun plot. I am more of a light book fan as I often multi-task while listening and this book was perfect for me.

    The reader was outstanding, I enjoyed listening to Jesse Eisenberg read this to me.

    The story itself was fun to listen to, it had some elements to figure out, an interesting plot and fun characters. But it was a slightly strange mix of a young character in a fun light story that turns into a killer in a somewhat mobbish violent story. Regardless, I enjoyed it and will get the next book.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amber Philadelphia, PA, United States 11-12-11
    Amber Philadelphia, PA, United States 11-12-11

    A simple girl that likes fantasy, mystery, and horror. She loves Doctor Who and The Southern Vampire series. A very open minded individual who can step past the boundaries of her favorites into new, unfamiliar waters. Also, she's willing to give any well-written book a chance. :)

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    "Great Story, Poor Narration - To Distraction"

    I read this book and adored everything about it. The world, it's settings, it's characters, and it's mystery. I had been very pleased to see it on Audible after reading it. I had been further enthused when I saw Jesse Eisenberg would read it, even though he was an unexpected reader. He's an actor and I felt like he would definitely narrate very well.

    I bought it and I could barely get through it. I admit, that sometimes some things are better read than said. This is one of those instances. Eisenberg's voice is not the kind you would expect to narrate, which is why I was so surprised. But I wanted to give the benefit of the doubt.

    Jesse doesn't have a good range of voices or inflection. Everything is spoken clearly, but nearly emotion-less. The males characters are somewhat indistinguishable from each other. The females aren't squeaky and Jesse handles them ok, but the lack of depth of his voice makes everything run together. It becomes boring. Very boring.

    The moments where gets it right are few and far in between. I think the very end of the book is when I actually feel anything concerning the characters. Hopefully, if he reads the next installment, he gets better.

    You should definitely read this book instead of listening and if you're curious, preview it before buying.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thrasher619 San Diego, CA USA 12-31-13
    Thrasher619 San Diego, CA USA 12-31-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved it!"
    What did you love best about White Cat?

    Story was original and Jesse narrating had me hooked.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of White Cat?

    That would give too much away, so instead I will just say that I enjoyed the big reveal.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I did listen to it in one sitting. I actually listened to it while cleaning, I was a little happier while I worked.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cristina Hatfield Oklahoma 11-13-12
    Cristina Hatfield Oklahoma 11-13-12 Member Since 2011

    Fidgit77

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent performance"

    I tried reading this book when I got it from the library but I just put it down and did not pick it up again until it was time to return it.

    However, I needed to read it for a challenge on Goodreads so I got the audible version to listen to during my commute.

    Not that this was a bad story by any means but for me, the narrator seriously made all the difference in the world. Our main character, and his family, were severely flawed but the portrayal in the audio version made him likeable and human. It made me root for (and feel for) him. So much so, that at one point I really wanted to beat up a fictional character on his behalf.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lorena Porto Alegre, Brazil 01-09-12
    Lorena Porto Alegre, Brazil 01-09-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Entertaining and with a few unexpected plot twists"
    Would you listen to White Cat again? Why?

    Yes, I enjoyed the story and the characters enough to have fun listening to it again. I will probably listen to it again (as well as the second book) right before the third book is released to not get lost in the story.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Predictably, the main character Cassel. I found him to be the most relatable and amusing character, the other main ones I didn't seem to be able to connect with so much until the second book in the series. Cassel is smart, funny and charming but still obviously flawed and somewhat tortured and mysterious so he makes for a realistic and interesting read.


    Have you listened to any of Jesse Eisenberg’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I'm very familiar with his work acting in movies but I had never heard his performance reading and audiobook before this one. I think he did a very good job.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    In some parts of the book (particularly the ending) yes, I wanted to read the whole thing in one sitting, but in others the pace slows down and I was perfectly capable to put it down and read some more latter.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm looking forward to the sequels.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings EAST LANSING, MI, United States 08-19-14
    Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings EAST LANSING, MI, United States 08-19-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Excellent fantasy world, fast read"

    White Cat by Holly Black is the first in the Curse Workers trilogy and introduces us to a world where everyone knows that magic is real, but generally controlled by several families mob-style in the USA. I’ve been meaning to read this trilogy for over a year ever since I met Holly Black at a signing, and I’m so glad that the audiobook was available and of solid quality so that I can finally fit this great series in! If you enjoy the idea of an alternative history mixed with a dash of magic, definitely check these books out and maybe even the audio versions ;-).

    White Cat by Holly Black
    Narrated by Jesse Eisenberg
    (Curse Workers #1)
    Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on May 4th, 2010
    Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, YA
    Length: 320 pages
    How I got my copy: Purchased

    Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn't fit in at home or at school, so he's used to feeling like an outsider. He's also used to feeling guilty; he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.

    But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, and people around him are losing their memories, he starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas and a plan to con the conmen.

    Strengths:
    White Cat is told from the main character, Cassel’s perspective, so having a male narrator who mostly stuck to his natural voice worked out well. I found myself easily imagining Cassel telling me the story of this period of his life over drinks ;-).
    I looooooved the magic system since it involved some powers I haven’t read much with before and “blowback” when you use your power. If you use your power for good to give someone good luck or make someone happy, you get good luck or happiness yourself. If however, you use your death curse or physical curse to hurt others, a part of your body suffers the same consequences.
    Another cool part of White Cat that I hadn’t realized is that it doesn’t take place in some far off fantasy world, it takes place in a version of the US where curse work has always been known to exist and is currently going through various stages of being banned and tested for and unbanned as with any other cause. I am pretty in love with these sorts of “out in the open” urban fantasy settings with alternative histories and everything :D.
    The plot of White Cat is concise and flows quickly. I enjoyed the twists even though I guessed some from having accidentally read the blurb for the second book once, but I was pleased to find that I never felt things were dragging along even with some nice world-building thrown in.
    The crime family twist in White Cat is a whole lot of fun. I’ve never been that in to stories with the mob, but the idea that the mob would be run by curse workers (for very good reasons too!) instead of our world’s incarnation makes me love the twist in White Cat. I especially love that the formation of the crime families makes complete sense with the alternative history that is touched on and that the families use curse workers the same way that tough guys are used in our crime families throughout history.

    Weaknesses:
    I generally prefer narrators that have separate voices for each character since it makes it easier to keep characters straight during dialogue. The narrator for White Cat doesn’t do this, which I was generally fine to let go since like I said, White Cat is told in first person. However, it did make it a little confusing the follow the dialogue at times when he started to use a different voice and then didn’t stick with it.
    There are a lot of cool secondary characters in White Cat, but the book is just too short for them to get properly fleshed out. There are certain characters that I hope to get to know better as the trilogy goes on, but I definitely wasn’t satisfied with their portrayals in White Cat just because of the length.
    I was in a weird place mentally when I started listening to White Cat (remember that weird week where I just needed to read happy things?) and the beginning was a little too dark for me in that mind set. That darkness doesn’t continue too much though, so I ended up being fine once I got past the beginning. Just to warn you though, no pretty butterflies here ;-).

    Summary:
    White Cat is a great start to a trilogy I know many readers have loved. I’m really excited to have finally jumped on the Holly Black fan bandwagon and I highly encourage you all to do the same! If you like audiobooks and don’t mind a narrator that doesn’t do individual voices, I do recommend White Cat since it is pretty short and you could easily listen to the whole thing in a week or two!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn Tucson, AZ, United States 03-04-13
    Lynn Tucson, AZ, United States 03-04-13 Member Since 2011

    EOD wife and loving mother!!!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It was not very good"

    I enjoyed the performance, but not the book. It just wasn't my style, I guess.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MEGAPIZZA, United States 05-31-12
    MEGAPIZZA, United States 05-31-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Yes, this is what I'm looking for."
    Have you listened to any of Jesse Eisenberg’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No I haven't but I look forward to them.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    If you going to pretent your a worker your going to pretent your the most powerful etc. I don't remember it word for word.


    Any additional comments?

    This is great I've been looking for my next series and this is it. Hit the spot. It's quick but addicting.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-9 of 9 results
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  • Hope
    Cobham, Surrey, United Kingdom
    4/16/11
    Overall
    "Spellbinding narration of an intriguing story"

    This an intriguing story about magic, workers, family, the con, hiding who you are, school, friendship, loyalty, crime and growing up. It's a young adult/adult story, which is both a compelling crime story, and sometime mystery, and a compelling fantasy set in an alternative contemporary USA. The main difference is magic - in the form of cursework - exists, and was banned at the same time as alcohol; only the alcohol ban has been lifted, but that on magic hasn't, so curseworkers work for the mob. People are born with working abilities or they are not. Every working has an effect on the person being worked, and the worker.

    The story opens in a dramatic way, with the protagonist up on his dorm roof with no idea how he got there, or how to get down. The school calls the fire brigade, who get him down, and the head suspends Cassel on medical leave until he can assure the school lawyers he won't sleepwalk again like this. Cassel is collected by his brother Philip, and first stays with him, then his grandfather. His family is acting strangely - more so than usual, or at least more than can usually be attributed to the behaviour of the workers in the family to the one non-worker in it. Cassel's main interest is getting back into school, but in the process he investigates his family and the mysteries that surround him. There are plenty of twists, turns and surprises.

    The narrator is Jesse Eisenberger, who does a spellbinding, convincing and compelling job of bringing this book, its characters and world to life. I've started to read a print copy of this novel, and it's quite a different experience. The audio version is excellent, and the opening and closing music is just right to transport this listener in and out of this book's world, and not at all jarring. It strikes the right mystery, magic and noir notes. All in all, this book is well worth a listen.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Michelle Moore
    Dartford, United Kingdom
    12/10/13
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    "Good start, once you understand what's going on..."

    This is a rather intriguing book, which does take a little getting used to. I did feel as if the world-building could have been a little better, and certain better explained, but after a while it does all seem natural, and I found myself pulled into the story.

    In this fantasy world, some people are 'workers', which means they can affect people simply by touching them. It's not clear who is and who isn't, and therefore gloves are mandatory wear for everyone.

    Cassel is the only one in his family who doesn't have this ability, but he has learnt how to con people if needed. He also attends a normal school, where he tries to act 'normal', not letting anyone know about his family, or his ability to con.

    The story developed well from here, and I was pulled in enough by the end to buy the 2nd book :)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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