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White Cat (Curse Workers)



Suspenseful series starter full of magic, mystery, violence.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Teens who enjoy this book will look forward to the next installment, Red Glove. Could encourage some good discussions about violence and its impact on readers. See our "What to Talk About" section for some specific ideas.

Positive messages

This has some pretty classic good versus evil stuff as Cassel tries to find out what's happening to him -- and what happened to the love of his life.

Positive role models

Most of the characters in this novel are manipulators who cannot be trusted, but Cassel is different. When something doesn't add up, Cassel does all he can to trace his steps and make things right. He is loyal, loving, and forgiving to his family and friends.


Guilt-ridden characters self-mutilate; people beat one another up in descriptive and graphic bloodshed fist fights; characters use knives and guns. There are discussions of characters who have been murdered. A character is physically abusive to Lila and tries to kill her.


Cassel's longtime love Lila exudes sexuality and is extremely flirtatious. It's hinted at that people are having sex. Passionate kissing takes place between couples.


Name-calling such as "idiot" and "moron." There are also derogatory remarks such as "blow me."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Most of the characters drink alcohol. The main character's granddad is an alcoholic who frequently drinks until he passes out. People smoke cigarettes and a stranger does "a line of coke" in the bathroom at a party. There is a reference to kids doing LSD. However substance abuse is not glamorized and there are consequences for those who use.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this series starter features violence that is disturbing at times. Some characters self-mutilate as an act of penance for wrongful deeds. The main character, Cassel is manipulated into killing others. He is repeatedly belittled and betrayed by his brothers and a close family friend who use physical and emotional abuse to get him to do things he doesn't want to do. Most of the characters drink alcohol. The main character's granddad is an alcoholic who frequently drinks until he passes out. People smoke cigarettes and a stranger does "a line of coke" in the bathroom at a party. There's a reference to kids doing LSD.

What's the story?

Cassel Sharpe comes from a family of curse workers -- powerful people who can apply magic with the touch of their bare hands. Cassel has no powers of his own, but his mother can make anyone fall in love with her, while one of his brothers, Barron, can alter memories. In fact, all his family members are curse workers. And while it is illegal to perform curse work in the states, he begins to suspect he's been worked: His brothers have led him to believe that he has killed his childhood friend and longtime love, Lila. Although he has no recollection of doing so, Cassel vividly remembers standing over her body, knife in hand and covered in blood. Later, he wakes to find himself hanging on the edge of a roof in his underwear after dreaming of chasing a white cat. When Cassel is suspended from school for psychological instability, he decides to unravel the mystery of the white cat that's been following him. He must retrace his steps to figure out who he can really trust and to satisfy his unanswered questions about what really happened to Lila.

Is it any good?


This wonderful mystery writer with a wild imagination offers a compelling story of love, betrayal, and trust. Readers will feel both anxiety and empathy for characters who are taken advantage of. Although her novel starts slowly, it accelerates toward the book's conclusion with unexpected surprises. There is a lot of plot to follow here, and the narrator's memory loss makes following the story even more challenging. But teens willing to do a close reading will be rewarded. They will feel their adrenaline rush as each chapter takes an unforeseen turn -- and anxiously await the next installment, Red Glove.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the violence in this book. Do the fantasy elements make the intensity easier to handle? Are the descriptions of violence in this book necessary to get the full impact of Cassel's story?

  • How is violence in a book different than violence in a video game or movie? Is it more or less disturbing?

Book details

Author:Holly Black
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Margaret K. McElderry
Publication date:February 8, 2011
Number of pages:336

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Teen, 14 years old Written bynoveleater October 12, 2011

only ok book from wonderful writer Holly Black

White Cat was preidctible, but still a whole lot of fun. The characters are believable, and you can have emotion for them even though they are filled with fantasy elements. The writing once again is really good, but the story itself is filled with holes, where hopefully the sequel fills. I can see where Black is coming from and it is a very different approach on YA books for fans of Tithe, Valiant, Ironside also by Black. White Cat is less disturbing than those books, but still is very violent, but realistic. The story tells of a world where people can have powers that come form there hands, so they where gloves. These powers are considered dangerous and are illegal in the world the book takes place in. Due to the laws, most curse workers (people with powers) become mobsters or con artists. There are many mirrors to The Grifters movie, in the fact that the main character wants to do what is right, but is still doing what his family do, because he wants to fit in. What I really enjoyed about this book was that you could see connections to teen-school-books about peer presure. The violence includes, kicking and punching, beating and bruising, guns that are used and brandished. A person is thrown into the back of a car in the trunk and is slammed against the wall. People also use knives. The story focases on a murder, and people are filled with guilt. The violent scenes are graphic and bloody. I found myself gringeing. A character is abused by another characters, and is almost killed. Characters smoke and drink achaol. People do drugs, but it isn't a main part the story, so there is nothing to worry about. The ending is predictible, but still original to make me want to read the sequel. I recommend this book for fans of The Mortal Instruments or shows about con artists. enjoy : )
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Teen, 15 years old Written byAHHitsme October 26, 2011

Age Appropriate...? Uhmmm YEAH!

Personally, I think that anyone who is mature enough can handle this book...and series for that matter. Now, I'm only 15, but I've been reading books like this since I was..ohhh..12 maybe. And to be honest, it hasn't changed my way of life. I still have good morals and self respect *and all that jazz*
Educator and Parent Written bysamanthamigliore June 3, 2016


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