Size: 336 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd in The Curse Workers series
Source: borrowed from library
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
I have really loved Black’s previous books but to be honest I wasn’t a huge fan of White Cat. Still, since I have loved everything she has done previously I decided that I should give the second book in this series a try. It was better than the first but I still had some problems with it.
Cassel’s mom is out of jail and he is going back to school. When he arrives at school he finds that Lila is there too; this complicates things since Cassel has loved her forever but she has been cursed to love him so he doesn’t want to take advantage of her. Then the Feds contact Cassel to let him know his brother’s been killed and they want Cassel to help find who did it; the only clue they have is a lady with a red glove was seen exiting the scene of the crime. Cassel is being pulled in a number of directions: the Feds want his help, the crime boss his brothers are involved with wants him to join, one of his brothers wants him to join another crime organization, he is trying to protect his mother, trying to avoid Lila, and trying to get his school work done. Will he be able to solve the mystery of his brother’s murder? What will he decide to do with his life in the end?
Black has created a very creative world. I love the idea of curse workers and the blow-back they suffer when they use a curse. It is interesting to tie all of this into the mob. Black’s writing style is very readable. I also enjoyed that this book spent some time talking about how the presence of curse workers affects society as a whole; there is a lot of time spent on discussing curse worker rights, etc.
That being said I was still not crazy about this book. Cassel is an intriguing character, but not a likable one. He is still making a lot of bad decisions and bumbling through situations. I enjoyed his friends more (mainly Sam and Sam’s girlfriend). Lila is a confusing character for me; we never really get to understand her or learn much about her. Cassel spends the majority of the book trying to avoid her and she was a cat for most of White Cat so that’s probably why the reader doesn’t know her well. I have trouble finding Lila interesting or even seeing what Cassel sees in her. I was hoping this book would give more insight into her personality, but by the end of the book she was still pretty undefined for me.
The plot is twisty turny and definitely has some surprises in store for the reader. Most of this is still a lot of Cassel dealing with the mob. As I mentioned in my review of White Cat, I am not a fan of plots that revolve around a mob mentality; I just don’t enjoy reading about it. This book was no exception. Cassel hates his family but continually makes poor decisions that keep him deeply entangled with the mob. As the book went on that improved, but I still didn’t really enjoy the story or plot all that much. The book ended well and should have to readers looking forward to the next book Black Heart.
This is definitely more of a mystery/thriller than an urban fantasy. You do have the curse working, but that’s the only really fantastical element. I honestly prefer more magic and other twists in my stories; the lack of fantastical elements makes this story a bit drab at times.
Overall this book was an easy read and somewhat engaging. I am still having trouble enjoying any of the characters and, the mob-based plot isn’t my favorite. Cassel is an interesting but hard to like character for me and Lila still seems a bit vague as a character. If you really liked White Cat, I think you will like this book. If you were on the fence about White Cat, this book is similar. Will I read Black Heart? I don’t know. I honestly prefer Black’s Spiderwick Chronicles and Modern Faerie Tales series over this series; but I am such a huge fan of her previous books that despite my feelings on this series I might go ahead and read Black Heart just to see if I start to enjoy it more.