Review: White Cat by Holly Black

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 criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn't got magic, 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.

Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself 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. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.


When it comes to this Curse Workers series, there seems to be no end to the amount of praise it gets. I’ve heard almost every wonderful thing you could say about a book. However, White Cat fell short in some many ways.

The problem with this con book is the fact that it’s in first person. I wholeheartedly feel like con books always work better in third person. Why? Because in third person you don’t know the characters every thought, you aren’t looking through their eyes. Third person is more observing, so you see the character do something weird and you have no idea about it. Then it’s revealed and you’re like “ah-uh! Eureka!” The problem with first person is the expectation of thoughts. I just don’t think the person narrative was handled well.

The other problem with White Cat for me is the world building. I simply did not understand the world at all. It was too all over the place with its explanations. Yes, authors aren’t meant to info dump. But why would you put the two paragraph explanation on the social standings of workers at the end of the book (literally last chapter) instead of the beginning of the book? This wasn’t intriguing, it was frustrating.

I also found the shifts between “curses” and “workers” and where the hell cons and mobsters fit into it all so confusing. Nothing was explained and I had to set the book down to really think over it. Curse workers and works and curses are all the same people... So why give them three different titles? Who knows.

The confusion between when Cas did and did not have his memory, according to his brothers, was no handelling well at all. I felt like Black expected us to be on the same wave length so didn’t bother explaining that his brothers don’t think he has his memory when he actually does. Yes, there are the stones, but with all my other confusing thoughts I simply couldn’t keep up.

This leads me to the third part of the review. Characters. I’m going to call it: why would Cas love Lila? Lila, the entire time, is portrayed as rather stuck up and bossy. She’s mean, blunt in a non-appreciative way, and I just don’t understand the attraction.

I also feel like there were five hundred too many secondary characters for us to really understand them and for them to be fleshed out besides: Sam is a genius, Audrey is his ex, Daneca’s mum runs HEX meetings. And I’ll save my rant on the mother. She’s just... unexplainable.

I think it’s needless to say that despite the fact that I’ve actually borrowed out books two and three, I won’t be reading them. 

Rating: 2 stars
Date Read: Feb 2013
Date Published: June 2010
Publisher: Orion Books UK
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrow
Series: Curse Workers #1


  1. Ouch! I'm sorry that you didn't like it, Elle! I remember liking it, but I also hate books in third person, LOL! I can totally understand what you said about too many secondary characters, I hate when there's a bajillion too! Fabulous review, girly! (:

    Megan@The Book Babe

    1. I think it wouldn't have been too bad without such confusion and less characters with more time spent on them, developing them. From the brothers, extra family, Lila's family, Cas's friends and ex-girlfriend... None of them got much space, but were somewhat important for the story.

      Haha. I guess first person would have been better for you :P That's alright. Everyone's different.

      Thanks for stopping by, Mega!


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