The Summary: 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.
This series, to me, is worldbuilding gold. If you’re a writer and want to see how different elements of the real and the fantastical can be woven together, White Cat and Red Glove are hands down my first example. It shows a world where magic takes the forms of curses spread through touch, and how the world would be affected by that. There are elements of Prohibition, pop culture, legislation, historical influences (such as workers being organized into camps such as the Japanese internment camps following Pearl Harbor), and more all woven together seamlessly.
The rules of the magic are also fairly intuitive, once the groundwork is laid. We learn a little bit more this time around, but all the groundwork is already there. The rules are solid, and continue to make sense throughout.
Second up, the plotting is extremely tight. Red Glove continues Cassel’s story, now catching him between the world of the mobs, and the world of the Feds. Cassel is one of my favorite protagonists in a long time – he’s a con man at heart, but he’s still a teenager too. His feelings for Lila, the conflict in his family, his friendships – all of these things pull him in so many directions, but we get it. This is the first series I’d think of if someone asked me for a “boy book.”
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