Series: Curse Workers #1
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Publishing Date: Jan 1st, 2010
Summary: The first in a trilogy, this gritty, fast-paced fantasy is rife with the unexpected. Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn’t fit in at home or at school, so he’s used to feeling like an outsider. He’s also used to feeling guilty—he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.
But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, and people around him are losing their memories, he starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas—and a plan to con the conmen.
Rating: 4 stars
My first impression upon finishing this was "Well. That was interesting."
Some rambling thoughts:
I liked the writing. It fits the genre and the story and is, for me, a welcome change in Black's usual writing style. So if you didn't like her previous novels and are thinking of skipping this one because of it, think again. You'll be surprised.
I also now get why everyone cites this series as an example of well-written male POV. It is good. That's probably why I didn't completely identify with the narrator on an emotional level. I never do when it's a well-written male POV. And I guess I'm not supposed to, because why would I think the way he does? He's a guy. Duh.
Plot-wise, the novel is solid. It's intriguing, it's exciting, it makes sense and I want to find out more. It's basically everything you can ask from a book, to be honest. And it flows really well, too. Like sometimes you'll see Cassel noticing random things and it doesn't really serve any purpose in the story, but I find that refreshing because when everything is relevant in a narration, the plots gets way too predictable.
Something interesting happened, though, despite my lack of falling in love with Cassel: I started to "adopt" his way of thinking. When confronted to a situation that would have been perfectly normal for a regular person, I was screaming in my head "nooooo Cassel don't do the normal thing! It's baaad! You should never trust anyone, ever, trusting is wrong!"... Which is not how I feel in real life. And for me, that's proof of a consistent, immersive and well-done characterization, one that pulls you in despite yourself.
If you still need a reason to open this book, I'll give you one: Black does subtle but in-depth world building. Example: She mentions the odds of being a curse worker is one in a thousand. BUT then how is Cassel's entire family gifted? WELL SHE EXPLAINS IT. You heard that right. I know I'm way too excited about this, but so many authors leave gaping plot holes that have to be later explained in an interview. And she didn't! Yay world building!
I still feel like there was a little something missing, though, but I'm not sure what. It might just be the male POV messing with my brain.
Oh, and after reading book 2 and 3, I can definitely tell you that if you feel hesitant about Cassel after book 1, you definitely won't after book 2. Promise.