YA, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, 325 pages, Margaret K. McElderry
Goodreads | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble
- Why I read it: series I love, mobsters, film noir, a world I can't get enough of
- Disclosure: Checked out a copy from my local library. Yay!
Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe's world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else.Judged by its cover: Aww, come on, publishers. Why is it so hard to avoid the crappy photoshoots and give us cool illustrated covers like the UK editions get? Pretty please? If I hadn't known how awesome this series was from the get-go, there's no way in hell I would have picked this up.
That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she's human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila's been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila's love is as phony as Cassel's made-up memories, then he can't believe anything she says or does.
When Cassel's oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can't trust anyone—least of all, himself?
Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.
If White Cat was last year's spring fling, then Red Glove and I are going all the way. Believe me when I say that I have never, ever read a YA series with a concept this original and yet mindbogglingly simple: the ability to work curses as a heritable condition. Black takes every ramification of this ability to its logical conclusion, from associations for worker rights (not unlike gay-straight alliances, inadvertent "outings" and all), to an ungloved hand being treated as more dangerous than a gun.
With its mobsters, constant double-crosses, and good old-fashioned gumshoe-style mysteries, this is the series that jumpstarted my recent addiction to film noir and especially neo-noir; Rian Johnson's Brick in particular. There's something terrifically thrilling about teens solving crimes, not in a campy Scooby Doo way, but in a deadly serious one. When characters feel like artful archetypes instead of three-dimensional people, when high school is a battleground and no one can be trusted, you end up with a pretty decent metaphor for non-curse-working teen years, too.
The relationship between our conflicted, double-crossing detective hero Cassel and our hard-as-nails femme fatale, Lila, stands out as one of the strongest parts of the book, mostly because it's content to lurk as driving background tension instead of stealing center stage. Every time you think the stakes couldn't possibly get any higher, they do, and I found myself literally in white-knuckled fists as I read (especially at the ending). It's difficult to watch two beloved characters come into their own and grow so far apart at the same time, and kudos to Black for not hitting a single false note between them.
We get to know the supporting characters better in this installment, too, and as I mentioned earlier, the noir archetypes are artful. Noir is the only genre I can think of where deeply nuanced and original character studies actually detract from the story instead of adding to it, and Black takes full advantage of this by giving us just enough conflict and depth to fall in love with the characters without ever overcomplicating things. There are an awful lot of tricky dames and feds with an agenda and back-stabbing mob bosses to be found here, and that's exactly as it should be.
I really can't say enough good about this series, and especially this book. Holly Black is a treasure, and I'm on tenterhooks waiting for Black Heart!
...and the Short.
A stunningly unique noir novel that kept me guessing till the very end; a solid installment in one of my favorite YA series of all time. Not to be missed!
The Final Word: Loved it!
Red Glove is available now.