Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Review: Red Glove (Curseworkers series #2) by Holly Black

UK book cover of Red Glove by Holly Black
I know I raved about the UK covers of the Curseworkers series when I reviewed the first book, White Cat, but I really do think it's necessary to mention them again. Because seriously. Look at them.

This review WILL contain spoilers for White Cat! Go read that review instead!

Plot summary - 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.

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?

Let me start out by saying that I never read books in a series so close together. I always mean to, but then get distracted by something newer and shinier. It took me a year and a half between the second and the third books of the Morganville Vampires series, for God's sake. So it should say everything about this series that I read White Cat and not only ran out and bought Red Glove immediately, but read it only a fortnight later. 

While I didn't think it was quite as good as the first book, it doesn't disappoint. I devoted every spare minute to reading Red Glove - when I wasn't reading it, I wanted to be. I eventually finished it at 3am the same night simply because I wanted to know how it ended. The plot twists aren't as shocking or ingenious as in White Cat, but obviously the bigger plot threads had been dealt with in the earlier book. This book is more about Cassel dealing with his new status as a Worker and trying to decide which side of the Law line he should stand on.

I'm not sure why, but I have to admit that I preferred Cassel when he was slightly more uncertain about himself, before he knew he was a Transformation Worker. He just seemed a little more endearing, in an underdog kind of way. Now he's less helpless and it shows. I still like him and he's not irritatingly smug, but a lot has changed and it affects us as readers as well as the characters.

It also seems like the characters are a lot older than they're actually meant to be. Cassel is meant to be in high school but he acts more like somebody my age and his high school is actually a lot more like a University. Phillip, his older brother, is supposed to be 23, but has a wife, son and established career. It's like everybody in the book is actually five years older than we're told, it's strange. 

The prose is every bit as great, however.  The dialogue is natural, the characters are reasonably well puffed-out, and there's a fast-paced plot that leaves you absolutely unable to leave the book alone. It surprises me how well Holly Black can write as a male voice - sometimes when a novel is written in the first person perspective, the author's actual gender can sometimes slip through. Not here though. She clearly, clearly has a talent for writing and it shows on every page.

All in all, a great second installment to an awesome beginning - not quite as good as White Cat perhaps, but very, very close.

Read my review of White Cat, or visit the Curseworkers website here.  

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