Title: Red Glove
Author: Holly Black
Page Count: 336 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Genre: young adult, urban fantasy, romance
Copy for review provided by the publisher in anticipation of an honest review
50 words or less: Cassel Sharpe is reeling from discovering that he's a transformation worker, one of the most elusive of curse workers. The love of his life has been cursed to love him so who knows if what she feels is real. His family is as conniving and manipulative as always. Added interest in his abilities only makes life harder. Poor Cassel.
Red Glove made my shortlist of most anticipated YA books for 2011 and upon finishing it, I'm not sorry that I put it there. Every bit as good as the first in the series (White Cat), this story grabbed me by my eyeballs and didn't let go.
Easily my favorite part of the story was the authenticity of the characters. Each character has their own specific motives and emotions, and while the reader may not always agree with what the character is choosing or doing, the line of logic that gets them from point A to point B is clear. In this series, many curse workers are on the wrong side of the law, whether by choice or by necessity; their moral codes are not the ones that we might necessarily choose for ourselves, but why they feel and do the things they do was never in question for me as a reader.
Cassel has a lot on his plate in this book. He's trying to juggle a family that's corrupt even by worker standards, a blossoming pseudo-relationship with the love of his life, who happens to be the daughter of a notorious mob boss, keeping his identity secret from all but his closest of friends (curse workers are reviled and admired at the same time, which is a dangerous combination) and oh yeah, the FBI wants to talk to him about some coincidences that are too big to ignore. It's a good thing Cassel's been thinking on his feet since the moment he entered the world, otherwise his ship would be sunk for sure.
The plot is twisty and turny and the outcome is one that I didn't expect, per se, but can definitely see as logical- it was a neat hat trick that sets up a really excellent conflict for the next book. Loose ends from White Cat were tied up and new ones were created so the next book, the end of the trilogy as far as I know, will have plenty of new ground to cover.
Throughout the series so far, though, I have to say that my absolute favorite character is Cassel's grandpa. The rest of his family is so manipulative, whether deliberately or because manipulation is so second nature to them by this point, that it's a pretty abusive environment for Cassel as far as I'm concerned. His family is totally aware that all Cassel wants from them is acceptance and they're willing to put as high a price on that as Cassel is willing to pay. His grandpa is the sole exception- maybe it's because he's a death worker and not much scares him, but his love for Cassel was the most genuine. When everyone else is baying at the door to get Cassel to do something to further their own agenda, his grandpa makes him dinner and gives him a place to stay on the couch, no questions asked.
If you're a newcomer to this series, start at the beginning. If you enjoyed White Cat then you'll find plenty more to love here. I know I did!
Overall Grade: A+
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