The White Cat -- a Double Review


Our first thought upon reading the opening of The White Cat was: hey, it's Son of the Mob meets X-Men!


At least, that was my initial reaction. As the combination might imply, The White Cat is an intense read. The story follows Cassel Sharpe, the odd one out (some version of normal?) of a manipulative and morally vague family made up of people possessing specific innate abilities to work "curses," mutant-esque superpowers frowned on and feared by society (the ratio of curseworkers to average people and the sentiments of the latter toward the former being roughly similar to X-Men). Not content to just lure you in with an intriguing premise, Holly Black hurls you into the story at a moment of sheer terror and pulls you deeper into her creative and very realistic-feeling alternate present with hints at a mysterious and tragic past.

As might also be guessed by the immediate association with other stories, The White Cat keeps close enough to the familiar that at times you feel certain that you have figured all sorts of things out ahead of time. Rather than simply falling into tropes or shunning them completely, I think that Holly Black quite impressively found that tenuous balance between the familiar and the unexpected. The aha elements lull the reader into a sense of comfort in between reveals and doubling back and second guessing, but the twists and turns do their fair share to keep the entire novel fresh and interesting.

Although Holly Black's previous runaway bestsellers The Spiderwick Chronicles are gorgeous little volumes, the stories never left me feeling satisfied. Perhaps I was just too old when I read them, or perhaps it was just another example of how empathy or the lack thereof with the main character can make or break an individual's appreciation for a book. Whatever the case may be, I finished The White Cat, a book with a main character who should have been very well out of my general sphere of relatability, with every bit of active involvement that I expected to harbor for the fun and fairyfilled Spiderwick novels.

Bethany and I rarely have the same exact impression of something, so the fact that we both thought it was a cross between the mafia and x-men is shocking and probably won't ever happen again.

Getting down to business, this book is about illegal magic. They call them "curses" and the people who have them are called "curse workers", but lets be honest...they're really super powers, and the few people who wield them may be on the wrong side of the law, but they are uber cool and spectacularly powerful.

I have a crush on the main character, Cass. He's the perfect blend of roguish and charming. He isn't perfect and he often doubts himself which I think makes you forgive him and love him all the more. I thought the story was perfectly cast. I could picture all the main characters and even more so all the side characters... better than most books I read. It's set in present time, and I dare you to read the book and see if it doesn't feel real. The characters have ipods! Something that may bite the book in the butt in 50 years or something, but for now it's a deliciously relevant and fast paced read. I picked it up from the library and despite the stupid sounding title, I started to read the first chapter on the way to Jeff and Gabrielle's house...yeah, I was kind of a bump on the log that night. I couldn't put the book down and I couldn't tell you what was for dinner (except that it involved super delicious sangria). I hibernated in the corner, immersed in a world of bribes, drama, long ballroom gloves, curses and family secrets. Seriously addicting. It's the type of book that you finish, and for about 15 min you feel like racing through the house and pretending like you have similar special powers. It's so thrilling it's practically tingling off your own fingers.

Did I just admit that?

If you think that's crazy, pretend I never said it.

And go get White Cat from the library.

(I do have some criticisms of the book because it's not perfect, but I enjoyed it so much I don't remember what they are anymore).
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