Book Review: “White Cat”

“White Cat (Curse Workers #1)” by Holly Black

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal

GoodreadsOther Curse Worker books

Source: It was a free audiobook download from Random House Audio last summer.

Summary from Goodreads:

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’re all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn’t got the magic touch, 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.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts 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, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love — or death — and your dreams might be more real than your memories.


I downloaded this on a whim last summer. Random House was offering it as a free download so I grabbed it. I loved that the  curse workers were a known part of society. That’s a big change from the fantasy books I normally read. Normally the “creatures” (for lack of a better word) are hidden within society. They do everything in their power to make sure their lives stay secret.  White Cat lets the workers be a part of the everyday world. Sure, there is segregation and fear surrounding the workers but people still know about them. I would love to see that idea implemented in more fantasy books.

The curse working aspect was really fun. A simple touch can lead to good luck, changing of your memories, or even death? As a reader, I was definitely fascinated by it and how everything worked. There is some explanation for how some of the mechanics of it work but not enough for me. Maybe it’s explained more in the rest of the series? I may have missed it since I was listening to it rather than reading it.

The story was pretty good. Everything was so mysterious. You never knew what was going to happen. I’m a total sucker for mysteries , lies, and secrets so I was hooked. Cassel was a decent character. It’s weird. I think if I had read the book I would have only liked him a bit. He’s a developed character, I could understand him, and he was likeable but there were no sparks. I thought Jesse Eisenberg did a really good job with the book so I ended up liking Cassel more. I think hearing him made him feel like a real person. Thumbs up to you Jesse! I wasn’t too wild about the other characters. For the most part many of them are pretty slimy so I suppose they aren’t supposed to be likable.

Like I said before, Eisenberg did a great job with the audiobook. I liked his voice for the story. For me personally, audiobooks aren’t the best choice for fantasy books though. Fantasy books have lots of details about the hows and whys of that world. I have a harder time understanding and comprehending the book if I’m listening rather than reading about it. Then there’s the fact that I spent over a month listening to this book. I definitely had a hard time remembering things.

The bottom line? I liked it well enough. It’s a bit different than my normal fantasy books. I’ll probably pick up book 2 in the future.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: “White Cat”

  1. I picked this one up to listen to in the car this weekend (my husband and I did an 11 hour drive to a wedding in Santa Fe) because I thought my husband might like it and because it was pretty short. We got through about half of it and I think we were both got a little lost with the story line… on my part it might be because I kept falling asleep (obviously I wasn’t driving at the time). I hope to finish it at some point, but I can’t imagine trying to review it as I’m not 100% sure I know what was going on! Audiobook fail.

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