Friday, 18 May 2012

Red Glove by Holly Black

Red Glove by Holly Black is the sequel to White Cat, which I read and reviewed recently. This review doesn’t contain spoilers for Red Glove, but it does contain spoilers for White Cat. It’s the kind of book you can’t properly talk about without mentioning events at the end of the prequel. So if you haven’t read White Cat, don’t read on unless you like spoilers.


SPOILERS FOR WHITE CAT FOLLOW,


NOT SPOILERS FOR RED GLOVE.


BUT DON’T READ ON IF YOU HAVEN’T READ WHITE CAT AND DISLIKE BEING SPOILED.


YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.


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Right, that should be enough of a break. Also, I’m including the UK/Aus cover of Red Glove, because I like it more, even though I bought the cheaper US version.


Cassel is a high school senior at a fancy private boarding school in New Jersey. He is also a worker of magic. In a world where all workers are criminalised and feared, he has recently discovered that he has one of the rarest and most prized brands of magic. (That was the spoiler, by the way.) As he starts his senior year, his life takes some interesting turns, precipitated but not telegraphed by events in the first book.


His mother is out of gaol and back to causing mischief, Feds are breathing down his neck and he has confusing relationships with just about everyone in his life. At the start of the novel, he has very little idea what he’s going to do with his life.


I don’t want to simplify it by calling Red Glove a coming-of-age story because I suspect that’s what the overall arc of the trilogy will be. However, it is about Cassel choosing what sort of person he will be. In White Cat he learnt about what sort of person he could be, but now he’s in a position to choose for himself. I have to admit, I wasn’t entirely sure what he’d choose until he did.


Like White Cat, there’s also an element of mystery in the background that Cassel has to solve. It’s not a mystery novel by a long shot, but I like the extra layer. Cassel has to actually work to find out what’s going on (and fix it), which is better than the truth falling into his lap and him just reacting. This element is a strength of this series.


I enjoyed Red Glove about as much as White Cat (but it gets an extra half-star for ephemeral reasons which may ultimately relate to it not being consumed in audiobook form). Cassel is still a sneaky con artist but a lot more things went wrong in his cons and in his life than in the first book. It was entertaining watching him talk his way out of tricky situations. He did spend a lot of the book suffering existential angst to various degrees, which I thought Holly Black handled well. Too often is existential angst done tediously.


If you’ve read and enjoyed White Cat, I definitely recommend reading Red Glove. It’s basically more of the same. If you haven’t read White Cat, then start there. It’s not quite as necessary as with some series, but skipping the first book would definitely diminish the experience.


4.5 / 5 stars

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