Mandy and Kylie Review: Holly Black's - "Red Glove"


Kylie:

Red Glove, the second book in the Curse Workers series, picks up where White Cat leaves off, with curses and cons, magic and the mob, unreliable memories, betrayal and manipulation – and it beats its predecessor hands down!

Cassel Sharpe has grown up in a family of “workers”, Black’s term for those with the ability to work curses, but had always believed that the abilities his family possessed had somehow skipped him. Now he finds that he is in fact, one of the rarest and most powerful workers of all – a transformation worker – one who has the ability to turn anything, or anyone, into something else.

A power that could be most desirable to those wanting to commit the perfect murder.

Cassel is thrown into a world where the ones he loves and trust most have deceived him and where he is a wanted man – both by the mob who would use his powers for their own devious ends, and by the police who need his help to find a killer. In fact, the murderer of his own brother.

Things are further complicated by Cassel’s relationship with Lila (who spent much of book one as a cat). Cassel’s morality is bought into question on more than one occasion with the object of his love and desire willing to do anything for him. But are any of her feelings real or are they all the result of a curse by Cassel’s mother; an emotions worker?

I found this a more gripping read than the first – the characters were more developed, particularly Cassel’s friends who take on a more pivotal role in this book. Cassel himself is far more interesting as his belief systems are put to the test and the moral compass that was almost irritating in the first book, waivers. Cassel became more human with weaknesses and flaws that made him far more likable.

The ease with which I slipped back into this alternate world is a credit to Black’s world building – after the first page, the cons, the magic and a reality where nobody can be trusted were beyond question.

Some of the themes surrounding workers and non-workers – the segregation, the marches, the activist movements and the zealots on both sides, were echoes of our own world, both past and present, and were all the more poignant because of that. It was easy to become embroiled in the debate as a reader.

Some of the plot, which is essentially a murder mystery with a supernatural twist, was predictable but this did nothing to detract from my reading experience.

Hopefully this series continues to develop as it has from the first to the second book. I’m certainly looking forward to reading the third book, Black Heart.

Mandy:

I have to say I agree wholeheartedly with Kylie on Red Glove. Where White Cat could be confusing due to the ‘rules’ of the world, along with Cassel’s unreliable memories – Red Glove is fast, exciting and with higher stakes for each character. The revelation of Cassel being a transformation worker, while not surprising, definitely amps this story up. Cassel’s mother also plays a bigger role in Red Glove, now out of jail and continuing her addiction to the con. She’s about as unlikeable as a fictional mother can get, which makes Cassel’s own morals all the more interesting.

The Curse Workers series is, so far, unlike anything else out there in Young Adult Fiction. A successful mash-up of magic, the Mafia, murder and segregation whisks the reader along at a diabolical pace. Unlike Kylie, I didn’t see all the twists and turns before they I was deep within them – making Red Glove a much more successful story than its predecessor.

I’m also looking forward to getting my (un-gloved) hands on Black Heart when it’s released in early April this year.


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