19 June 2011

Book Noir

Red Glove by Holly Black (April 5, 2011, McElderry Books)
A review by Bailey Kelsey

Being that this is a review of a sequel, please read our spoiler policy here. But basically, if you haven’t read White Cat, don’t read this review.

If you’re a reader like me, you enjoy happy endings, but you love tortured middles. I just can’t seem to help it: the more crappy a character’s middle is, the happier I am as a reader. If you catch me sobbing and throwing my book against a wall (which has happened once or twice), this is a sign of unadulterated reader joy.  Holly Black does right by me with Red Glove, the sequel to White Cat, in her Curse Worker’s series.

Cassel Sharpe has all his life’s dreams coming true at the end of White Cat.  The girl he is madly in love with is madly in love with him; his older brother, Baron, is finally watching out for him; and his mother is finally out of jail and back at home. And, his biggest secret--that he’s the most powerful, and dangerous, worker around--is still his biggest secret.

But unfortunately for Cassel Sharpe, Holly Black is his creator and she believes in providing pure joy to her readers.


For Cassel, magic and the mob have always gone hand in hand.  But when his eldest brother is murdered, the cops turn to him to help unravel the only clue: a woman wearing red gloves entering the crime scene.  

But the mob is trying to recruit Cassel, too. One family knows exactly how powerful and useful Cassel would be to them. He is a curse-worker, after all. He belongs with the mob.  

Cassel must stay one con ahead of both sides. But when your mother preys on emotions and your brother plays with memories, pieces of your life tend to be lies.  Who can he trust when he can’t even trust himself?


Cassel’s tortured middle is a skillfully written Noir murder investigation.  But Black doesn’t leave it at just dark clues wrapped in beautiful prose.  While Casel is busy confronting very confusing and important personal and moral dilemmas, the real world is still spinning and affecting everyone.  There is a political and moral background against which everything is set; the events in this very real world only amplify the entire plot and a few twists.

In Red Glove, Cassel ends up losing so much--of himself, of his family, of his friends--but he gains a hell of a lot more, with the potential to keep on gaining in book three.  Because that’s what the torturous middle is all about: self-discovery through trial. There really isn’t anything more delightful.

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