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Review: Red Glove

Red Glove is the second book in author Holly Black’s The Curse Workers series. It will be released in the U.S. in hardcover, eBook and audio formats on April 5, 2011. It is currently available online for pre-order in all formats at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Published by Margaret K. McElderry, a division of Simon & Schuster, the print edition is 336 pages.

NOTE: The Goodreads description has spoilers for the first book in the series, White Cat. You may want to skip if you haven’t read.

Goodreads description:

Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe’s world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she’s human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila’s been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila’s love is as phony as Cassel’s made-up memories, then he can’t believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel’s oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can’t trust anyone—least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

***

I thought that I could never betray my family, never work someone I loved, never kill anyone, never be like Philip, but I get more like him every day.

After everything that went down last year, I can’t believe I’m back. That Wallingford is willing to take me back. That whole deal with the sleepwalking really freaked everyone out – it freaked me out. But all that’s water under the bridge.

I’ve got this one last year to figure things out. The school’s supposed to be grooming me for something. I’m just not sure what that something is.

I could always go into the family business. After all I am pretty skilled at the con. I’m used to working all the angles, trusting no one. But after spending the summer with Mom I’m really not sure I’m cut out for her kind of con. Just watching the marks get emotion worked turns my stomach.

Then there’s the option to follow in Philip’s footsteps, getting my own set of keloid scars and working a pretty cush job for Zacharov. I’m sure I’ll go much farther than my brother. I’ve got much more to offer Lila’s Dad than he ever did.

My decision won’t be easy, especially with everyone seeming to want a piece of what I’ve got. Mom, Barron, Zacharov, the Feds…

Well, whatever I do choose, I know one thing for certain – curse working is in my blood. I may not have been completely responsible for what happened to Lila, but I am a murderer. I can feel it.

***

When Cassel Sharpe returns to Wallingford he’s glad to finally have some distance from his curse worker mother. Although he’s happy she’s out of prison, he could never quite get comfortable with the way she so carelessly used her ability to emotion work someone.

His return to Wallingford gets quickly disrupted when two Feds show up at the school to deliver some shocking news about his brother Philip. And if that wasn’t bad enough they are trying to use him to get information on a number of unsolved crimes. Crimes that seem terribly familiar to him.

To complicate things even more, a new student shows up at the school, someone he never in a million years thought he would see at Wallingford. Someone with the potential to make his life a living hell.

Red Glove is the to-die-for second book in The Curse Workers series. It takes place just a few months after White Cat ends and pulls you right back into the story and Cassel Sharpe’s world.

There is no huge gap between the first story and this one and no need for lengthy explanations about what went on previously. Readers will immediately be able to just pick up where the story left off and tumble right back into Cassel’s life.

As a sequel, this story continues to surprise and amaze. Cassel is presented with some very tempting and some not-so-tempting choices. Choices that will certainly cost someone. Tough choices that wouldn’t be easy for anyone, let alone someone Cassel’s age.

There is a mystery that Cassel and his friends work to solve, while Cassel secretly tries to figure out what part he played. And the tension between workers and non-workers has definitely begun to escalate not so quietly in the background in this book.

Once again, it’s difficult to pinpoint the bad guys. The lines are definitely blurred. Cassel Sharpe may even be one of them – he just feels dangerous. He may not consider himself a danger. He may think that he’s done a perfect job of blending in, but he’s not as clever as he thinks he is at disguising what lurks just under the surface.

Red Glove is an absolute must read for those looking to solve a mystery, who prefer a story with characters living on the razor’s edge, battling not only their adversaries but their inner demons, and for those who aren’t afraid to take a walk on the dark side. For those readers this story and series are epic.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=6] Like In-N-Out Burger‘s infamous secret menu this one deserves my off-the-menu 6 star rating.

This is the first ever series that I’ve given a back-to-back six star rating.

On a personal note:

I waited to read this book until closer to release date. What was I thinking? Oh, I wish I read it sooner because I might just have been able to read it a second time by now. This story is colossal. It’s brilliant. It’s amazing. And Cassel Sharpe just rocks.

I think I love Cassel even more. I think he thinks we should all love him less, but that just makes me love him so much more.

And contrary to his own belief, he is nothing like his mother or brothers. If he were, he would completely exploit all that he is. (I’ll say no more for fear of rambling and spoiling.)

I didn’t think that this book could top the love I had for White Cat because this is a sequel. I already knew the world, knew the characters, but it did. There is another mystery. There is much more Cassel. And there is definitely something brewing with worker rights that I have a feeling will be seriously explosive in a future book.

Cassel may have received the shock of a lifetime in book one, but things have not gotten any easier for him. (I keep forgetting that Cassel is only a high school senior.) He may have come from an upbringing where exploiting people for gain is everything but he’s managed to come out with a conscience.

I’ve said it before, but this series is incredible and unique and I don’t want to have to wait until 2012 to read Black Heart.

***

To read an excerpt of chapter one from Red Glove on the author’s blog, CLICK HERE.

If you’d like to read my review for White Cat, the first book in the series, click here.

From Simon & Schuster Videos, the mysteries behind Red Glove – “the cons get twistier and the stakes get higher”:

Thank you to Simon & Schuster’s Galley Grab program for providing me with the eARC for review.

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