A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{April 12, 2011}   Red Glove by Holly Black

Plot: Cassel grew up in a family of curse workers and con artists thinking that he had no powers, only to find out that he was the rarest kind of worker… and that his brothers had tricked him into using those powers to their own benefit. He thought he managed to con his way out of danger they put him in but things are worse than ever: his eldest brother is dead, he’s being courted by both the mob and the FBI and he may be a murderer. Surviving this may mean betraying everyone he cares about.

The back to back release of novels by my favorite authors is really hurting my sleep schedule. Not that I’m complaining. This was a brilliant sequel in a unique and engrossing series.

Urban fantasies are a dime a douzen these days but Black has created a realistic, well thought out world with a unique system of magic. Her depiction of the con artist’s life is masterful and fascinating and the struggle  for curse workers’ rights brings to mind the plight if many minorities (or mutants if you’re into comics, as I am).

I love that Black’s characters do not fit into simple categories: there are no clear heroes or villains, no one is completely good or bad. A mobster, even an assassin like Cassel’s grandfather, can be a good person. Nor does being curse workers, mobsters, family… guaranty similar values or world views. The characters are human: they have ideals and sometimes they fail to live up to them. Sometimes they are weak. Sometimes they make mistakes and have to live with the consequences.

Lila is by far the most fascinating character: intelligent, passionate, cruel and proud. She is both strong and damaged by the experiences in her short life. Reading the book, you cannot help but understand Cassel’s attraction to her which at times borders on worship. Their romance is so beautifully heartbreaking, always doomed to fail.

Cassel himself is an engaging narrator. And though he has a low opinion of himself, the rare glimpses of him from the perspective of his friends and family is fascinating: attractive, intelligent, dangerous and, for all his flaws, good.

I have one pet peeve: there’s a lot of concern over finger prints for a society of people that always wear gloves. But it’s a minor point.

To wet your appetites for this book, Holly Black wrote 13 scenes starring Lila Zacharov. The scenes are displayed in a random order so that everyone’s experience of the story will be slightly different. It’s a fascinating idea and a wonderful glimpse into this interesting character. You can read Lila Zacharov in 13 pieces here.

The book trailer says very little about the book but its pretty awesome anyway:

Challenges: None


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