Monday, February 25, 2013

Book Review: Curse Worker's Trilogy

White Cat (Curse Workers #1)
Cassel comes from a family of Curse Workers - people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn't got magic, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail - he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.
(Cover & Description from Goodreads.  Source.)
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry books
Publication Date: May 4, 2010
Red Glove (Curse Workers #2)
After rescuing his brothers from Zacharov's retribution and finding out that Lila, the girl he has loved his whole life, will never, ever be his now that his mother has worked her, Cassel is trying to reestablish some kind of normalcy in his life. That was never going to be easy for someone from a worker family tied to one of the big crime families and a mother whose cons get more reckless by the day. But Cassel is also coming to terms with what it means to be a transformation worker and figuring out how to have friends.
But normal doesn't last very long-soon Cassel is being courted by both sides of the law and is forced to confront his past. A past he remembers only in scattered fragments and one that could destroy his family and his future. Cassel will have to decide whose side he wants to be on because neutrality is not an option. And then he will have to pull off his biggest con ever to survive.
(Cover & Description from Goodreads. Source.)
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
Black Heart (Curse Workers #3)
In a world where Magic is illegal.
Cassel Sharpe has the most deadly ability of all. With one touch, he can transform any object - including a person - into something else entirely. And that makes him a wanted man. The Feds are willing to forgive all his past crimes if he'll only leave his con artist family behind and go straight. But why does going straight feel so crooked?
For one thing, it means being on the opposite side of the law from Lila, the girl he loves. She's the daughter of a mob boss and getting ready to join the family business herself. Though Cassel is pretty sure she can never love him back, he can't stop obsessing over her. Which would be bad enough, even if her father wasn't keeping Cassel's mother prisoner in a posh apartment and threatening not to let her leave until she returns the priceless diamond she scammed off him years ago. Too bad she can't remember where she put it.The Feds say they need Cassel to get rid of a powerful man who is spinning dangerously out of control. But if they want Cassel to use his unique talent to hurt people, what separates the good guys from the bad ones? Or is everyone just out to con him?Time is running out, and all Cassel's magic and cleverness might not be enough to save him. With no easy answers and no one he can trust, love might be the most dangerous gamble of all.
(Cover & Description from Goodreads. Source.)
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Kat's Review
I've been taking my son to the library a lot lately, and as a result I've been catching up on books that I missed when I was in my post-baby, new mom, nobody- told -me- it -would- be- this- difficult phase.  Turns out I've missed a lot, like this series.  I checked out the whole lot, and spent the last week devouring them. 
There is a lot to love here.  A book told from a teen boy's perspective is always a fave of mine, although I can't say exactly why that is.  This particular teenage boy is complicated, funny, sarcastic, and conflicted, with an inner monologue that kept me smiling.  Cassel's attempts to reconcile his worker family with the normal school boy he tries to be while away at school was like a twisted coming of age story, where the family is full of criminals without conscience (although some of them do, but in a weird way) and the school is full of rich kids who want a taste of danger, but not too much. 
Cassel is stuck in the middle. 
Crime is something he knows.  It's familiar.  When he learns of his own particular power, and how it's been used against him by his own family, it's as though the universe has a particularly nasty sense of humour.  Add in some reluctant friendships, crooked Federal agents, and a love that's most dangerous of all, and you've got the gist of this series.  Kind of.  Because it's all that and more. 
There's love, loyalty, betrayal, mystery and intrigue, all wrapped up into one.  There are cheeky allusions to the works of Ms. Black's friends, like a student named Jace showing up in the background from time to time, or a show about beauty contestants being stranded on a desert island playing in the common room.  There's an epic love story that isn't resolved one way or the other until the very last page. 
Rating: All Consuming
If you read this series when it first came out, it's worth a reread.  If you missed it the first time around, clear some time in your schedule, because you're going to want to read them all in one go.  Original, funny and twisted, all wrapped up in one great series.
Purchase from Amazon  White Cat                Red Glove               Black Heart

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