Written by Holly Black
Published April, 2011 by Margaret K. McElderry
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Purchase: The Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia
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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.
Red Glove is the second instalment of Holly Black’s Curse Workers series and, although it doesn’t quite have as tight a plot as White Cat, still remains to be an entertaining read. You can expect higher stakes and more of the characters you’ve come to love.
“I can learn to live with guilt. I don’t care about being good.”
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Cassel is one of my favourite male narrators in YA. He’s quite the complex character and you never know what his plans are going to be until they go down. There’s clearly a lot going on in his head (some of which he hides from the reader). Sometimes he’s not the smartest tool in the shed when it comes to other people’s feelings, motivations or emotions, but if you have to look at a situation methodically, Cassel’s your guy. I like that he walks such a fine line between being a ‘criminal’ and a ‘good guy’. You just can’t help but love him. Has he (unknowingly) murdered handfuls of people by turning them into inanimate objects? Yes. Do you resent him for it? Not in the slightest.
Cassel’s relationship with Lila has taken a turn for the worst in Red Glove, but once again it provides a sort of trial for Cassel in where he tries to forget his feelings for her, knowing she’s been ‘worked’ to love him. Lila, despite her worked emotions, continues to be a key player both at Wallingford and within the Zacharov family and judging by that ending, her part in the long game isn’t going to be done any time soon. I’m interested to see how the two of them will make amends (who are we kidding – they have to!) in Black Heart.
“The truth is messy. It’s raw and uncomfortable. You can’t blame people for preferring lies.”
Red Glove isn’t as contained as White Cat was. Now that we have our cast of characters ironed out, Holly Black has introduced certain new elements to the story – such as the Federal Agents and their ‘program’ for worker kids as well as the murder of Cassel’s brother Philip and the hunt to find a killer. Cassel is also brought deeper into the Zacharov web, being urged by Zacharov himself to join and ‘help’ him with transformation work. On top of all this, there’s some Wallingford drama as well as a new focus on Sam and Daneca’s relationship. While I was happy to get more of an insight to the worker/crime world, as well as have some secondary characters further fleshed out, I did feel that there was a bit too much going on in Red Glove for me to like it as much as I did White Cat.
I’d get invested in Cassel’s hunt for Philips killer… and then I’d be flung back to Wallingford where the gang was trying to stage a fake video featuring Greg at a worker meeting, for instance. There was a lot of back-and-forthing, and instead of feeling like I was making progress with a particular plotline, I just had more questions.
“Baby,” she says in a harsh whisper, “in this world, lots of people will try to grind you down. They need you to be small so they can be big. You let them think whatever they want, but you make sure you get yours. You get yours.”
Once again, Cassel’s relationship with his Grandad is a shining light where family relationships are concerned. Even though I read this back in April, 2011, I had forgotten the bulk of the story and also the quirks of all the characters. I’m also happy Cassel got a little come-uppance where Barron was concerned, and seeing him con alongside his mother was interesting albeit frustrating. I’m also fascinated by Cassel’s transformation work, and seeing him work out the kinks of what he can and can’t do (or the consequences of it).
Yes, this was a worthy continuation of White Cat, but it was weaker. If Black Heart manages to live up to (or surpass) the first book, then I think Red Glove will only be a minor dip in a truly fantastic and unique urban fantasy series.