Review and Giveaway: White Cat by Holly Black

Posted 12 December, 2011 by Pushy in Giveaways, Pushy, Pushy Book Review / 36 Comments

White Cat
by Holly Black

Published: May 4, 2010
Links: IndieBound
(support an independent bookseller near YOU!)
Amazon, Barnes & Noble
(available as Kindle/Nook and Audio editions)Audiobook borrowed from the library

Synopsis from Goodreads

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’re all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn’t got the magic touch, so he’s an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.


I’ve wanted to get into this series for a while. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Holly Black’s writing and the premise of this book sounded so intriguing. But it’s a series and I’m loathe to start an unfinished series because, as Tom Petty sings, “The waiting is the haaaaaarrrrrdddddddeeeeeesssssssttttt part!” But the universe must have wanted me to read this book because it kept popping up. My stepmother even got me a signed copy when Holly Black came through her office! I mean, other than Holly stopping by MY desk and asking me why I hadn’t read it yet, I don’t know how much more of a push I could have gotten!!

So when I found White Cat was available in audiobook format from my library, I knew I could wait no longer. And I’m SO glad I finally dove into this book!

I fell in love with Cassel right off the bat. He’s so smart and funny but so terribly isolated: the only non-worker in a family full of workers, the kid from the wrong side of the tracks in the exclusive prep school. He comes off so sympathetic because even though he doesn’t seem to fully belong anywhere, he desperately wants to belong somewhere. Add to that he’s got a terrible, tragic secret and I felt for him right away.

So when we meet Cassel, his life is falling apart. He’s kicked out of school due to a sleep walking incident and he’s desperate to return lest he be forced back into his family’s life on a permanent basis. While his family may be fine with their grifter-esque lifestyle, Cassel clearly is not and he’s already clawed his way out once and he’s determined to do so again. And this is what is at the heart of this story, Cassel’s struggle to forge his own life, one that does not follow the life of cons and crime that his family pursues, one that is threatened by his strange bout of sleep walking and what he finds out when he investigates the root cause. But don’t worry, if you’re anything like me, you’ll connect the dots FAR quicker than Cassel does. But even though I figured out the mystery element of the book easily half way into it, I still truly enjoyed watching it unfold. And it was fascinating to watch Cassel catch up.

I really loved all the characters in this book. They’re well-rounded with all these great details, from Cassel’s grandfather and his cranky personality and “interesting” past profession to his brothers who seem to both love and fear Cassel to Cassel’s sister-in-law who may or may not be slowly going insane. Every character is so well conceived and written that they’re all such a joy to read about even when you’re not entirely sure you like them.

But it’s the world building in this book that steals the show. It’s a modern day reboot, where there are still things like Starbucks and iTunes but there’s also the idea of Curse Workers who history is a rough marriage of Native Americans and 1920’s bootleggers, all rolled into one. There’s a rich history lying under the surface of this story, one stretching all the way back to the founding of the USA and beyond, one full enough to support many spin offs in it’s own right. It’s that level of detail, even though it’s only referred to here and there, that makes a fictional world so rich and full and Ms. Black has that here in White Cat in spades.

Bottom Line

Holly Black with weave a spell around you with this fantastic first book in what promises to be a sincerely amazing series!

I give it 5 out of 5 books

Narrated by Jesse Eisenberg
length: 6 hrs and 42 mins
unabridged audioboook at audible

Did I mention that I listened to this book?? Because I absolutely ADORED listening to this book!!! Jesse Eisenberg’s voice brings with it a certain self-depricating humor that really I thought was a perfect touch to Cassel’s character. He’s equally capable of bringing the other characters, both male and female, to life and bottom line there’s something imminently listenable in his voice. Really, he was inspired choice for narrator!
Final Notes
As soon as I finished listening to this book, I IMMEDIATELY began listening to Red Glove, it’s sequel, so look for that review to post tomorrow! And you know how I love to share my favorite things with you, dear readers, which leads me to….

Yup, a give away! Remember above when I mentioned that this book has been everywhere for me lately? Like the cosmos was say, “Yo, Pushy! Are you ever going to read this fantastic book???” Well, the cosmos reached out to me just yesterday and got me (through the loving hands of my awesometastic step mother) yet ANOTHER signed copy of this book!!!

Faced with such cosmic generosity, I’m forced to share, for the sake of my karma if nothing else!

So dear reader, we’re making this one simple: Just tell me (in the form below) what series is/was the hardest for you to wait on and you’re entered to win the first book in this fantastic series!!! US only (many apologies to my friends up North, but changes at my company have now made it difficult for me to ship internationally even to Canada, so it’s straight old media mail for this fox for the near future!!)!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now go and get lost…in a book!


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Lover of words and authors; absolute fan girl of books! Give me a good story, with characters I can love (and hate) and I'll follow you anywhere. Sing me a song of worlds I can dream of, and I'll listen forever.

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36 Responses to “Review and Giveaway: White Cat by Holly Black”

  1. So sorry for the trouble, guys!!! I think I've fixed the widget but I've checked and for sure you're in the list @Small Review! @Lieder, if you want to DM me your FB name, I can check that you're entered as well. If not, I'll add you to the list.


    Reply »

  2. Thanks for checking! I don't have a FB account, so no worries on that. As for the hardest series to wait for…hm, there are so many, but the hardest was probably Harry Potter. I HAD to find out what would happen, and I was so afraid of spoilers! Luckily I started the series late in the game, so I only had to wait for the last book.
    My recent post Book Review: Slayers by C. J. Hill

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  3. Jessica Austen

    I can't wait for the next book in The Chemical Garden series! Wither was so amazing I am impatiently awaiting FEVER the second book; it comes out in February.

    Reply »

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