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Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Review: Red Glove

Author: Holly Black

Release date: UK 16th June 2011
Genre: Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / YA
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Gollancz


Red Glove is the second book Holly Black’s urban fantasy series The Curse Workers. If you want to read my review of the first novel White Cat, follow this link. There will be spoilers in this review for those who haven’t read the first book. You have been warned!
This story opens with Cassel on a job with his criminal mother in Atlantic City. Now Cassel knows that he is in fact a worker, his problems have got a whole lot bigger. Mrs Sharpe is looking for a new mark to fleece for every penny he is worth. Now you’ve got to admit having a criminal mother is a pretty awful in itself (there’s the fear that she’ll get caught and get put back in prison for a start), but when you add to that the fact that she has every intention of getting you to help her pull off the con, you’ve got the mother of all problems. Excuse the pun. So from the beginning the reader is pulled into Cassel’s viewpoint. We sympathise with him even though we might also find it rather exotic to have such an extraordinary problem.

When Cassel returns to school, which I’ve begun to see as his safe haven, his chance for normality, he finds out that his brother has been murdered. I know that must have read like a huge spoiler but it isn’t because it tells you so on the blurb! The plot of this story is essentially Cassel assuming the role of detective to work out who killed his brother. But not a clean detective obviously, he uses all the lessons he learned growing up into a crime family to help him work it out. One of the ways in which Cassel has developed from the boy in White Cat, is that he will now accept help from his friends. He doesn’t push them away as much and that was heart-warming to see. Also, Sam (Cassel’s roommate) is awesome. He wants to work in special effects and so has some outlandish ideas to help Cassel err... commit crimes. I have to say Ms Black that is some pretty nifty planning you must have done to make all the parts work as a whole. I am in awe!
There are some really thought-provoking issues explored in The Curse Workers series. How does a child who is born into a family of criminals avoid becoming one of them?  Is it ever right to curse someone? Do people who have the power to harm others deserve to the same rights as those who don’t? I never realised that urban fantasy could be written to be so ideologically challenging until I read this series. I always perceived it to be about the age old battle between good and evil. Of course, Red Glove is about that too but it is written with so much more subtlety. Another issue that it got me thinking about is family. How far do you go to protect them? Is there anything you wouldn’t do?
Red Glove is every bit as satisfying as White Cat. The plot is wound so tight, you have to be careful that it doesn’t spring back and hit you in the eye. The writing is superb. Cassel’s viewpoint is completely convincing. I am so impressed with this series. It’s brilliant!
Thank you to my hubby for treating me to this book! x


Mel said...

Ooo, I read White Cat a little while ago and really enjoyed it. Now I need to get my hands on Red Glove! Sounds like the story has progressed which I love!

Keren David said...

Love this series, agree with everything you say.