Plot: Cassel is from a family of curse workers, magicians who manipulate luck, emotions, life and memory. But in a world where such magic is illegal, most curse workers are part of organized crime. Cassel’s family is no exception. He has always been an outsider in this world. He’s a bookie and a con artist but he is the only one in his family who can’t do curse work. As if that wasn’t enough, when he was 14, Cassel killed the girl he loved and he doesn’t even know why. He’s tried to get as far away from that life and those memories as he could. But he’s been having strange dreams about a white cat, dreams that have almost gotten him killed. To save himself and those he loves he may have to face the mob head on and pull off the biggest con of his life.
I’ve been going on a bit of a Holly Black binge this week. The Curse Worker’s series is her newest work and it’s every bit as good as her previous writing. Though I don’t like the characters as much as those in the Modern Tale of Faerie series (I get the feeling that they aren’t meant to be likable, though most are at least interesting), it’s a very impressive bit of world building. Her magical system and the world in which it exists is entirely believable.
She also seems to have put a lot of thought into organized crime and especially the idea of the con. Because conning people is ultimately what this book is about. Magic, when it is used at all, is just a tool. Cassel is good at conning people, it comes naturally to him, and more than that he enjoys it. He ultimately saves the day through cunning and lies. There’s a kind of vicarious thrill that comes from watching it all unfold. And the ending, the last few lines just blew me away. It was very different from the standard happy ending, I didn’t see it coming and yet it was the perfect ending for the story.
My one question is, this story being fairly well contained, where will Black go with the next book? I’m not worried though; she has yet to disappoint me.
Watch the trailer: