I loved this book. There I've said it. Oh wait, I suppose you want more of a review. All right I really, really loved this book!
The world that Holly Black has created is utterly believable because it is our world with just one difference. In this world curse-work is real but outlawed. Everyone has to wear gloves to prevent touching their fingers to another's skin because that's how a curse is placed. The way curse-work fits into our world and its history has been so well thought out. I especially enjoyed the mention of how curse-workers are treated in other countries and through out history. Holly Black gives her characters a spacious, realistic background to play in and that makes it easier for the reader to sink right in and take their place alongside them. You can follow Cassel Sharpe easily through this world because it feels so familiar and natural. It's our world with just a little twist.
I also really liked that the main character of this book is a teenage boy which was a refreshing change for me. Cassel Sharpe is clever, funny and a natural conman. He enjoys the intricacies and creation of a con and is at his best when deceiving and manipulating people. Yet still, he is not hard to like (which I guess is a large part of being a conman) and his story is one that I wanted to follow. There is a sense through out that if Cassel is such a good conman how can we (the reader) trust what he is telling us. Maybe he's just playing us as he does all his other marks. Then, just when you start believing what you're being told and trusting your narrator, the author throws in a twist that trips you up and makes you look at the story and especially at Cassel in a whole new way.
When I first opened the book I was disappointed to find out that it was written in the first person present tense. This is my least favourite point of view in a book and one that appears more and more in YA fiction. As I read of the book, however, I realised that this book could not have been written any other way. It is such a personal story - a story of one young man's view of his world and his place in it- that to tell it any other way would have been completely wrong. I don't want to give any spoilers to the plot twists etc., but you really need to see the world through Cassel's eyes to appreciate the full impact of the revelations when they come. And they do come. I guessed a couple of twists in the book but that only made others more surprising when they arrived.
As I said at the beginning, I loved this book. I read it in three days and then wished I hadn't. I really didn't want to leave the world or the characters. I will definitely be reading the next book Red Gloves when it comes out and will be searching out more of Holly Black's books to keep me going in the meantime.
Review by Andrea Chettle
Holly Black is the bestselling author of contemporary fantasy novels for teens and children. Holly collaborated with her long-time friend, Caldecott award winning artist, Tony DiTerlizzi, to create the bestselling Spiderwick [...]
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