Red Glove by Holly Black

Just finished reading Red Glove by Holly Black. This is book No.2 of the Curse Workers series of books and continues the story of Cassel started in White Cat. I think this series is a really refreshing new idea combining paranormal activity with mobsters. It’s a bit like The Sopranos meets Grifters meets alternative universe where magical abilities exist meets mystery (that’s a pretty impressive meeting, no?).  And, Holly Black manages to achieve a second installment that is as good as the first!

The magic in Curse Workers is split into a number of areas, emotional, death, dreams, memory and transformation (the latter being incredibly rare) and the opportunities to turn these abilities into criminal activities is enormous. That being the case everybody must wear gloves (to prevent cursing somebody accidentally – or intentionally – by touching your fingers to somebody’s skin) and the Government are trying to draw the net in around curse workers by proposing to make compulsory a test which reveals if a person is able to perform magic. Working magic is illegal and results in prison which basically means that most magically gifted people will have broken the law simply when they performed their first curse, whether knowingly or not!  The prejudices in this book are unbelievable and well written – I hated the way the curse workers were treated, looked down upon by some, feared by others and pushed and pulled about by the Government who want to basically tag them and use them for their own benefit.

Anyway, that’s enough background. This book continues almost straight from where White Cat left off.  Cassel has been vacationing with his mother (I like his mum, she’s far from perfect, she is very naughty and can’t resist a con but she does love her family, and I particularly like the stunt she plays when attending a certain brunch!).  On his return to school things pretty soon begin to spiral downwards and once this starts it quickly gathers momentum.

You just can’t help feeling sorry for Cassel. He’s basically not bad, he’s from a family of criminals but he is trying to make the right choices, but he’s been manipulated and used and this is a trend that is set to continue with him being torn by people on opposite sides of the law, including his own family.  He’s very well written and I find him easy to like. He’s intelligent and creative – I loved the description of him being like a leopard pretending to be a house cat (not the exact wording there so don’t quote me!!) Then there’s Lila, she’s something completely different, she knows what she wants, she knows what she will become and she has no qualms at all, and on top of this she can be a bit ruthless and frankly scary. You definitely wouldn’t want to get on her wrong side.  I don’t particularly like her but having said that I don’t suppose we’ve had the chance to really get to know her and on top of that she is the daughter of a fairly well connected gangster and so has been brought up thinking she is superior which gives her a sort of arrorgance that isn’t appealing.  That said, she shows a more vulnerable side in this book – although it is rather quickly covered up.

I won’t say too much more, this is a great story and best discovered whilst reading instead of having the experience spoilt here.  The plot and momentum start building straight away and there is no shortage of action. The ending is just full of twists and I didnt second guess the outcome at all.  There is also a good bit of character development and although this doesn’t end with a cliff hanger it definitely sets the scene for the next installment.

I definitely recommend this book. It’s original, punchy, witty, sexy and comes with a leading character who is easy to care about.

Give it a go!

Rating A (also – love the cover below – a hand not wearing a glove at all but red and dripping with blood – how sinister!

Red Glove

Red Glove

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