I’ve had a few false starts with books recently, where the book I started just doesn’t manage to keep my interest even to the point of wanting to finish it. It was therefore a welcome change to pick up Black’s White Cat and get promptly sucked into the story.
The setting is mild urban fantasy / alternative history. Magic exists, but very few people can do it, and the magic is hexes where witches (or curse workers) can shift someone’s emotions, dreams, etc.
I’m not sure whether this book falls under the umbrella of Young Adult literature, but I don’t think it matters; the characters, their relationships and problems are just as applicable to YA readers as to anyone else.
It’s those relationships and characters that make this book so great. Everything feels new and original and fantastic and not like just another fast food version of a literary adventure. Things are complicated, the way they can be in real life, everyone’s flawed, and there is not really black and white.
The pacing isn’t perfect: the story spends some time with us getting to know the protagonist and the demons haunting him, but once the plot kicks into gear it doesn’t let go and I finished the book in a single sitting.
This isn’t popcorn reading. There will be complicated emotions and bittersweetness, but it’s well worth it. This is the kind of book that makes me happy for having read it, and wanting me to recommend it heartily.
Holly Black is often mentioned in conjunction with Neil Gaiman, and as much as I hate to go that route, I think this novel clearly shows why.
Four and a half out of five.