Holly Black, 2011 by Margaret K. McElderry Book, 325 pages.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Curses and cons.
Magic and the mob.
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.
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.
I enjoyed this second book in the Curse Workers series, though not quite as much as the first one. It was still fast paced and exciting and full of cons and imagination.
I like Cassel. I feel for him. He so wants to fit in, but he's not sure where - at his private school where he is clearly an outsider? with other Curse Workers and the mob who want to make him into a killer? with his family who have all manipulated him? with the FBI who have their own agenda? I like how he tries to do the right thing, tries to be a good friend. I also like how clever he is.
I enjoyed Sam and Danica in this book and how their characters are developing. Unfortunately, I didn't like Lila as much. She's been cursed to love Cassel and so he can't trust anything she says or does until the curse wears off. This does add to the romantic tension of the book and it will be interesting to see how it plays out in the next one.
There are a lot of subplots in this book, which certainly adds to the feeling that there is a lot going on in this book. Sometimes the main plot got a little lost.
One of the things about coming to a series late is that you don't have to wait for the next book to come out to see what happens next. I can't wait to read Black Heart to see how this series ends. I would certainly recommend this series to others, and think it will appeal to both boys and girls, something I enjoy in a YA series.