Review: Red Glove by Holly Black

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Red GloveRed Glove by Holly Black (Margaret K. McElderry, 2011)

Blurb: 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?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

White Cat is one of my favorite YA urban fantasy novels. In many ways, Red Glove seemed to have middle-child syndrome: while White Cat had the benefit of a relatively simple story (albeit one with a wonderfully twisty-turny plot), Red Glove introduces many new characters and a lot more action. It’s a lot more complex than the first book (White Cat), and it doesn’t have the same gut-punch twists and turns. But it does have more in-depth characterization and plotting–and something I consider important in YA: it doesn’t rely on stereotypes.

Cassel, the main character, continues to struggle with the morals and ethics of who he is–as a curse worker, as a member of a crime family, as a human being. He grew up believing he had no magical abilities and that he had killed the girl he loved, only to discover that neither of those is true. The girl he loves is right beside him—only Cassel’s mother, in an attempt to “help,” has put a love curse on Lila, so that her feelings for Cassel are as not-real as his are real. Cassel’s relationship with his brother Barron has improved, but there too, Barron’s memory has been so affected by blowback that nothing he says can be taken at face value. Luckily for Cassel, his friends Sam and Daneca continue to stand by him. Though they’re secondary characters, they’re witty and well-developed.

Definitely going to check out Black Heart to see how this ends.

My rating: 4 stars

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