Title: Red Glove
Author: Holly Black
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (Simon & Schuster imprint)
It's my first time reviewing a book I got through the S&S Galley Grab. Whoa. And it's the first time I read a book about a month before the release date. It was a bit weird at first. (If you haven't read White Cat yet, don't read this review because there are spoilers. I don't think there are any Red Glove spoilers.)
The second in Holly Black's Curse Workers series, Red Glove provides just as much intrigue, teen angst/confusion, and film noir mobster feel as its predecessor White Cat. Cassel Sharpe is attempting to get his life back on the normal track it was before his mother got out of jail, before he saved his brothers from mobster retribution, and before he realized he hadn't killed his best friend Lila Zacharov (a mobster's daughter) and had turned her into a cat instead. As a transformation worker, his life's a bit sticky, and it's about to get even stickier when he tries to mix being a worker with a normal life. Unfortunately for Cassel, the normal track soon veers off in the wrong direction when he's approached by not one but two sides of the law and both want his unique abilities. A choice has to be made, and if he wants to get out alive, he'll have to pull off the biggest con of his life.
This book was awesome. It had a way of sucking me in, bringing me straight back to Cassel's world after his mom worked Lila at the end of White Cat. Everything is still messed up, sort of, but he's trying to get back to the as-close-to-normal he had before his memories came back to him. And now Lila's back, drawing him to her, pulling him in, pushing him away. Then Zacharov wants him to take part in the less-than-legal mobster lifestyle while the FBI are trying to draw him in with some pretty strong leverage.
Cassel's caught again between right and wrong, good and bad, life and death, or maybe life and prison. Little chunks of good times are all he's allowed before he's pulled back in by both sides, before both arms get tugged on from different directions.
The fantasy magical element of the workers and their different abilities is wicked cool. It's almost how I wish life could be, without the possible evil. ;) And Holly Black does an excellent job of revealing the consequences of such an ability. Not just the blowback Cassel experiences, but the whole legal side of the novel. Magic doesn't make the world right, you still need to make certain choices. It's up to you to figure out which choices you make and to decide which side you want to be on.
I haven't been exposed to much film noir and 1920's gangster-style books or movies, but this novel had a way of getting my attention. The sense of class and style mixed with cynicism and morality is interesting, and when Holly Black introduces it to the world she's created, it's almost hypnotic.
While reading Red Glove I was continually overwhelmed and thoroughly creeped out by the film noir style, the dangerous gangsters who very rarely take no for an answer, and the intriguing twists and spirals Cassel falls into. His world, his family, and his life are far from perfect, and he's got to work his way through it all. It's the only way he'll survive.