Audio Review: White Cat by Holly Black


May 17, 2012 by Heidi

audiobook cover of White Cat by Holly Black read by Jesse EisenbergTitle: White Cat [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: Holly Black [Website|Twitter|Tumblr]
Standing: First book in the Curse Workers series.
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Published: May 11th, 2010 by Listening Library
Format: Audiobook; 6 hrs, 40 min. Read by Jesse Eisenberg
Source: Borrowed from my local library.

The first in a trilogy, this gritty, fast-paced fantasy is rife with the unexpected. Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn’t fit in at home or at school, so he’s used to feeling like an outsider. He’s also used to feeling guilty—he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.

But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, and people around him are losing their memories, he starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas—and a plan to con the conmen.

Sometimes I don’t really bother to figure out what a book is about before I pick it up.  When I decided to check out White Cat, by Holly Black, somewhat on a whim, it boiled down to 4 simple reasons: 1) It was available on Overdrive, 2) It wasn’t too long (I was burnt out from listening to 14-18 hour books) 3) It was by Holly Black, an author I’ve been wanting to read more of and 4) the series was wrapping up, so I could go through the whole thing without having to wait.  Needless to say, I was hoping White Cat would be decent, but didn’t expect it to be near as intriguing, original, or engrossing as it turned out to be!

Full disclosure: I’ve had a huge girl boner for con men ever since…well forever.  There’s something about grifters that is just undeniably sexy and alluring to me.  I blame my parents for glorifying The Music Man so much as a kid…you know that’s totes why I became a librarian, to meet my con man!  So…Cassel Sharpe?  Yeah, I’d hit it.  I probably wouldn’t even care if he were just using me as a means to an end (but he’d totally want to be strait with me because I’m the woman who would change his life).  I’ve never had a thing for Jesse Eisenberg before, and the second his voice came out of my headphones (yeah, I didn’t even read who the narrator was prior to checking this out), I had all sorts of thoughts flash through my head, most of which added up to: I don’t know how I feel about this.  But now?  After finishing?  I love me some Jesse Eisenberg.  I mean, I liked Zombieland a lot, but his other movies like Adventureland and Social Network were largely depressing views of the world and humanity, and since the kid comes across as a slightly less awkward and slightly more attractive version of Michael Cerra, I wasn’t exactly wringing out my panties for the guy.  But now I know that if I were to ever see him, I’d probably try to muster up the courage to tell him that I love his audiobooks: 1) Because it’s true, 2) Because I bet actors don’t get that a lot, and he’d totally want to have a night of splendor with me because of it, and 3) It’s cool, my boyfriend doesn’t read my blog.

Josh Holloway as Sawyer from LostWhere were we? Oh yeah, con men. Sexy magical con men. Sorry Sawyer, my heart was yours, but it’s been sold to another because you lack the literal magic touch.  Holly Black has created a world in which there are curse workers; humans who have the ability to change something with a single touch.  There are seven kinds of curse work: luck, dream, emotion, memory, death, transformation, and physical.  A curse worker has to touch you with their bare hands in order to work you, which is why everyone wears gloves all of the time, and a bare hand is terrifying to behold.  Working people is illegal, and has been for several generations.  People that were once held up, have now been cast down as lowlifes and criminals, the worst of the worst and the lowest of the low.  And for the most part, they’ve taken on this mantle.  Worker families have become the crime families of the world.  They can change your memories, change your emotions, make you believe what they want you to believe, and kill you with a single touch.  They are, suffice it to say, scary awesome.

Cassel’s family doesn’t run a crime ring, but they’re not too far off.  His mother is in prison for working men for money, his brother is working for one of the biggest crime bosses around, and him?  Well, he’s just trying to finish high school.  Cassel is the disappointing child, the one without the power to work.  Raised in a worker family, he knows all the tricks.  He knows how to work a mark, and can almost always manipulate those around him to get what he wants.  He’s haunted by his past, and the worst memory he has: killing his best friend, Lila, at age 14.  As Cassel struggles to find out what really happened to the girl he loved, he begins to uncover a reality that he’s almost better off not knowing.

Cassel is one of those bad boys that you just can’t help but have a thing for…because he’s also kind of a good guy.  Cassel wants to do the right thing, it’s not his fault that doing right by someone often means doing wrong by someone else.  Seriously, if this book doesn’t sound intriguing to you, then I think you might be broken.  It’s cool, I’ll get Cassel’s mom to work you into feeling like you must read this series.  Because really, you should.

Likelihood that I’ll be back for more:  I’m pretty sure there’s no question about that.  I’ve already checked the last two books out, and am most of the way through Red Glove as I write!

Recommended for: YA UF fans, chicks who dig con men, those who want a story that is dark and edgy with a male narrator—no fluff-n-stuff in White Cat!

Real life repercussions of reading this book:  Hey, did you guys know/notice that Jace Wayland from Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series makes an appearance in all three of these books?  Made my day in the “I spotted the pineapple in Psyche!” kind of way.

Get a second opinion:
Books and Sensibility
Chachic’s Book Nook
The Readventurer


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  1. Tatiana_G says:

    Well, another Jesse/Cassel lover! Welcome to the club:)

  2. Alyssa says:

    I love this review and I am so glad we are friends. I might have to pick this one up ASAP, yet another author people tell me I would LOVE!! Is it terrible I am slightly hoping I don't find a job even though I am desperate for one so come June 20 I have a summer vacation in which I can read every single day?? Don't you judge me! Con men are hot!!

  3. Kyle says:

    I bought this for my kindle a while ago…I think it was 1.99? I'm saving it for when I go on vacation next month and plan to only bring my kindle. Glad you liked it! I've only heard good things about this series!

  4. So glad to see another who loves this series! You won't be disappointed with Black Heart; such a solid note to end the series on. Cassel secured a place in my favorite narrators hall of fame after about a page and a half.

  5. Heidi says:

    Um…I REALLY need a second job atm to help pay the bills, but I'm honestly not really looking until after my parents visit in June. Being unemployed sucks, but reading every day is fantastic. This whole series was great (I just finished listening to it this week), and I want to read Holly Black's fairy tale retelling series now.

  6. Heidi says:

    Thank you, thank you. Are there jackets?

  7. Heidi says:

    Yes, the whole series was really strong. I may even have liked the second book the best, which is always saying something! I'm sure it's a really quick read, it was a fairly short audiobook.

  8. Heidi says:

    I just finished Black Heart this week actually! And you're right, I was not disappointed with ANYTHING in this series. I loved that I never had any idea where it was going, how it would work out, and yet it never let me down. One of my favorite male YA leads!

  9. Tatiana_G says:

    No, only gloves:)

  10. Heidi says:

    Favorite comment ever.

  11. OH MY GOD. I can't believe it. You're killing me today. I've never even given this series a thought. I have to admit, though, Heidi: (and this is weird, so don't judge) I normally do audio only on books I've done in print first (The Name of the Wind being the only exception EVER). I ALWAYS listen to the audio and follow along in the print for the re-read. I'm the biggest dork ever, but I find it wildly relaxing. I digress. Jesse Eisenberg, really? I'd have never pegged that. You make me want to check out the print version and the audio, and read/listen together for the first read. Which is what I'm doing with my Rothfuss. I'm so intrigued by what you've said here! (Secretly and shallowly, I've always been turned off by the covers of these books, which is probably why I've never given them any thought.) I'm scared to go back any further on your blog because you're already killing me today. :)

  12. Oooo, I may have to look into this one because I love short audiobooks, love the idea of a con man narrator, and I have a loooooong road trip coming up. This might even be something the husband would listen to with me in the car!! I love a well-timed review, so thanks!

  13. Heidi says:

    I am with you on the covers. Have you seen the new set though? I love the new ones! Bwahaha, sorry to add more books to your already precariously balanced TBR. This whole series is so fantastic on audio though. I never would have thought Jesse Eisenberg would have been such a good narrator, but he was absolutely perfect for the voice of Cassel Sharpe.I had NO idea that's how you read/listened to audiobooks! I think that's kind of awesome, and more power to you if you find it relaxing. I always listen to audiobooks while I'm doing other things. I have listened to the audio of quite a few books that I've read before, but far from always.

  14. Heidi says:

    YES! You're welcome. I hope that you do give it a shot. The whole series on audio are about 6-7 hours each, which is really reasonable. I do think this is a good series for guys, as I felt like Black does a surprisingly good job of writing from a male perspective.

  15. Jasmine Rose says:

    This one's been on my TBR, but I still never really knew what it was about (this happens to me a LOT :P) and despite how awesome people say it is, it's been pretty low on my TBR. Seeing your awesome review kind of makes me want to read it right now, though. I almost want to listen to the audiobook to hear Jesse Eisenberg, but I don't think I could manage it. I have too short an attention span, plus sometimes I have to read a passage five times before I actually understand it.And then I was rambling.Anyway, great review, Heidi 😛 😀

  16. Heidi says:

    Haha, thanks Jasmine! Like I said, I didn't really know what this book was before picking it up either. I was really pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it, and the whole series in fact! And yes, the inability to reread passages is a serious drawback of audiobooks. I still love them though!

  17. This is definitely the funniest review of yours I've ever read. When you say you checked out the other two books, you BETTER mean audiobooks. Or I'll come over there and work you. I was a little wary about what I was getting into here too but once I started, I loved them. I only read the third one bc it was an ARC and I couldn't wait to see what happened. But the whole time I read it, I heard Jesse Eisenberg in my head. Like you, I would totally tell him I like his audiobooks if I ever met him:) (and you're right that he's the more attractive, slightly less awkward version of Michael Cera! Only I think JE has more acting chops as well)

  18. Heidi says:

    Oh, I DO mean audiobooks. I've actually finished BOTH of them, and they were awesome, but I'm lazy and have yet to write the review for either. Terrible. Such a fan though!

  19. […] I wrote my enthusiastic review for White Cat I didn’t think there were enough good things I could say about Jesse Eisenberg’s fan […]

  20. […] reviews: Bunbury in the Stacks – “Cassel is one of those bad boys that you just can’t help but have a thing […]

  21. […] much info yet, but if one can judge from the amazing Curse Workers trilogy, Black knows how to rock YA Urban Fantasy, and I’ll be there to […]

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.