Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Review: Red Glove (Curse Workers #2) by Holly Black

Title: Red Glove (Curse Workers #2)
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: 04/05/2011

While I wasn't as immediately drawn into Cassel's world in White Cat, I found it one that I'd be more than happy to visit again. It was Black's attention to details such as Cassel implanting amulets under his skin to avoid being worked that kept me reading. This one follows along the same lines as the previous book, being a story that was a little tedious at times but still a fun ride for the most part.

Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe's world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she's human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila's been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila's love is as phony as Cassel's made-up memories, then he can't believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel's oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can't trust anyone—least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

I'm never quite sure what to make of these stories. It's a pretty brave move to cast a boy as the main character in a genre that's predominantly oriented towards young girls & women, something that runs the risk of potentially alienating part of the demographic. This actually works here because this means that Black has more freedom to break free of other trends & habits of young adult urban fantasy. As far as this goes, the book is great. It's kind of refreshing to read about someone who isn't a young, spunky, headstrong girl fighting against the system. This is an intriguing world & for the most part Black does a decent job of exploring & explaining it.

Unfortunately there's some parts of it I just didn't get into as much as I would have wanted. The book just seemed to take a pretty long time getting to where it wanted to be & as a result one of the main themes of the book (the whodunit) fell to the back burner. This feels like it happened more as a way to shift gears for the third book in the series, but it still sort of threw me out of the story. There's a LOT going on in this second book & I have the feeling that even more will be happening in the next (& final) book, so I can't help but feel that this series would have been better served if it had an extra volume to help space things out.

Overall this was still a good read & if you liked the first one you're more than likely going to like this one as well. The only thing I'd warn people about is that unlike Black's Modern Fairy Tale series, this book is most decidedly not a standalone. If you haven't read the first book in the series you're pretty much going to be lost as far as plot goes.

Final Diagnosis: Most fans of the previous book & Black's other works will like this but others will find themselves getting a little lost in the book's pacing.


(ARC provided by Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab)

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