White Cat by Holly Black
White Cat takes place in a fantasy version of America where certain people called “curse workers” have the ability to do magic on other people by touching their bare skin. Everyone wears gloves to protect against curses. It’s illegal to perform curse magic, so most curse workers keep their skills secret since they are met with fear and suspicion. This creates an underworld of curse workers that is populated by powerful and mob-like families. Cassel, the main character, feels like an outsider because he’s the only one in his family of notorious criminals who is not a curse worker.
Cassel tries to break away from his criminal family and blend in at his boarding school, but he’s haunted by dreams of a white cat and memories of things that he’s sure never happened. His paranoia grows when he finds out that his family is keeping secrets from him. His brother is a curse worker who can influence thoughts and alter memories, so Cassel can’t even trust his own mind.
I thought the world of White Cat was fascinating, and the twists and turns in the story had me hooked. Cassel is a great character and I loved seeing him struggle to balance his “normal” life with his criminal tendencies. White Cat is the first book in the Curse Workers trilogy and I think they get even better with each book. The audio book version is also excellent and is read by actor Jesse Eisenberg from Zombieland and The Social Network.