The White Cat by Holly Black

Imagine that magic is real – spells, curses, illusions, all can happen with just the brush of a bare hand.  Now imagine that it’s also illegal – you get caught cursing someone and you go to jail.   But what if, like a lot of illegal things,  it was controlled by the Mob?  Magic is risky enough when it’s just illegal, but when the most dangerous man in the country wants to put you to work, you can’t say no – especially when the rest of your family already works for him.

Welcome to the world of The White Cat.  Cassel comes from a family of curse workers; his mother can change your emotions, one of his brothers can change your memories and his grandfather is a death worker who can kill with just with one touch.  Cassel is the only one in his family who doesn’t have a gift, and he’s built his life around trying to be as normal as possible.  He’s just like everyone else at his high school – except for the part where he runs a profitable gambling ring and, oh yeah – three years ago, he killed his best friend, Lila.  Now his life is all about fighting off the nightmares and coming to grips with the past – his own and his family’s.  Slowly but surely, Cassel is unraveling a tangled web of secrets and lies, with the truth hidden deep in the middle.

And the truth is slippery and strange.  Why are his brothers acting even weirder than usual?  What’s the big family secret that everyone hints at but never tells him?  Does Audrey still like him, even though they broke up?  And what’s with the white cat that’s somehow moved from his nightmares into the real world?  Cassel realizes he can’t trust anything – not his family, not even his own memories.

It’s always exciting when an author you love starts a new series, and The White Cat is no exception.  It kept me wondering; every time I thought I had the answers, something changed and I had to keep reading to follow the latest twists and turns.  The story is told from Cassel’s point of view, which means that the reader, like Cassel, isn’t sure what’s true and what isn’t; we’re piecing the puzzle together right along with him.  I liked Cassel and I wanted him to triumph in the end, but nothing is simple in this world of deceit and danger and dark magic.   The White Cat is part urban fantasy, part mystery, and completely gripping.   And it’s the first in a new series, so there’s more to come!

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