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The Red Glove by Holly Black

The Red Glove by Holly Black is her second installment in her Curse Workers series. I read The White Cat cover to cover a few years ago on a long flight to California, so I wanted to follow up with the second book. The third book, Black Heart isn’t released until April of this year.

The series follow Cassel Sharpe, a curse worker in a world much like our own. Except bare hands are dangerous weapons because you never know who is a “worker”–someone who can lay a curse on you with a mere brush of their hand–and who isn’t. Everyone is forced to wear gloves in public places at all times. Workers are fighting for equal treatment, and the prejudices that non-workers had for workers are very similar to those between the whites and the blacks during the Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s.

Of course, the curse workers’ case isn’t helped by the fact that many of them are members of organized crime families–exactly like the mafia, but with magic. Cassel is a con artist, and comes from a worker family that are all con artists. His mother is an emotion worker, his brother Barron is memory worker, his oldest brother Phillip is a physical worker, and his grandfather is one of the scariest assassins of all–a death worker. But what is Cassel?

The second installment of the book focuses on Phillip’s death and the horrific realization Cassel comes to when it dawns on him that his brothers were making him commit atrocious crimes (and subsequently forget about them). And, does Lila really love him or is it just emotion work? Her mob boss father wants him as an assassin and the Feds are on his trail. What decision do you make when each one means hurting someone you love?

I love all things Holly Black. I’ve been following her since her Livejournal days. Her Modern Faerie Tales series was amazing and remains one of my favorites to this day. Curse Workers definitely has a different feel to it (with a male protagonist) but Black captures Cassel’s voice well. Her language is not quite as lyrical in this series, but you wouldn’t expect poetry from a mob boss or a con artist, would you? Her idea for this story was great, hands as weapons…excellent. While her MFT series entralled me, the CW series simply entertained me. I will read the third book but I’m not dying for it to come out the way I was for Valiant and Ironside. I do appreciate her ability to tell an unpredictable story, because usually it’s too easy for me to predict “whodunit” and that ruins the fun, doesn’t it?

I would recommend the Curse Workers series to Black’s male audience, simply because the story seemed geared more for teen guys then her previous works. Anyone looking for “fantasy-lite” may also be served well by this. In my opinion, Black is a master of the urban fantasy genre and I will continue to read whatever she produces.

3 of 5 stars