Review: "Red Glove" by Holly Black

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I was given a promotional copy of the novel and stepped into the series with this book. Red Glove is the sequel to White Cat. A third book is planned for the series.

Red Glove is promoted as a YA novel, although I'd put it more at the 18 year old to adult end of the spectrum than the 13-16 year old range.  If your kids are old enough to watch the "Sopranos" or "The Riches" and they like those shows, then this is the right book. Much like those shows, Red Glove contrasts the supposed glamour of a criminal lifestyle with the pain it causes our hero. A younger reader might only see the glamour and magic and miss the misery.

Our hero Cassel, lives in a modern day world where some people are "workers." They can work "curses" that affect people's emotions, luck, life, memory and very rarely, transformation curses. Since that gives these "curse workers" an unfair advantage, working curses or hiring someone to work a curse for you is illegal. As a result, most "curse workers" gravitate towards a life of crime. For example, Cassel's mother is an emotion worker and makes a living as a con artist. She can make you want to believe the most outrageous story she  is telling you. She can change how you feel about her or someone else.

This has caused Cassel some problems, since his mother has cursed the girl he loves to love him. Now Cassel cannot trust her love and doesn't want to take advantage of her cursed state physically or emotionally, because he worries about hurting her more in the long run (love curses don't last forever).

His brother is a con artist, too, and a memory worker and changes people's memories whenever they are inconvenient. Cassel is coming to discover that his memories have been tampered with. So, Cassel lives in a world where he cannot trust his own or other peoples’ feelings or memories. He's a decent person, but his family is too quick to take short cuts to obtain what they want. So he cannot trust his family not to tamper with him or anyone he cares about (including each other).

I really liked how the book dealt with these issues of trust. This isn't a story about a family against the world, in this book the family is broken because no one can trust anyone else. And yet of course, everyone wants to be a part of a family. And that is of course where, the mob lies waiting. They offer a kind of family community as well.

I'm sure this book would have been even better if I'd read the first one in the series. So I'm waiting for that one right now. Since this is the second in the series I’m curious about the world building in the first book. Don't let the YA or Urban Fantasy labels turn you away from this book. I think there is a lot here for adult readers.

Red Glove by Holly Black
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (April 5 2011)
ISBN-10: 144240339X
ISBN-13: 978-1442403390

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