I've liked quite a bit of Holly Blacks early work, namely Tithe. Dark urban fantasy that was was original and fresh and I hadn't read much like it. Now fairy books are a dime a dozen, evil fairies, nice fairies, paranormal out the wazoo.
So naturally I was interested in her new series. Which is essentially a mix of gangsters and magic. It reminded me a bit of Graceling, in that people are born with a talent magical in nature. In the White Cat world, these talents have been made illegal. Which makes everyone who is born with one a criminal by definition. In Graceling, those with graces have multicolored eyes. Something that marks them as graced. In White Cat there is no such obvious marking, but these "talents" are transferred through touch. Everyone, those with powers and those without, have taken to wearing gloves to avoid the consequences a touch can bring. In both worlds those with powers are ruled by those who are more powerful. In White Cat it is organized crime families. In both worlds being "graced" with a magic talent/power is a lot less fun then you think it will be. And that is sort of where the similarities between the books end.
I enjoyed the story, it was suspensful and there were interesting and fun plot twists, excellent double crossings and interesting secondary characters. I would pick up the sequel for sure to see where the story goes. My one main complaint was that the world building wasn't as strong as I would have liked. I didn't quite get how the world worked and I found it confusing at times. Not overwhelmingly confusing, just a bit disorienting. By the end I got it, but I think it could have been worked in earlier to better effect.
I really liked Cassel (the main character) and I thought his character development was the strength of the story. He was super fun to follow around. He's the dude on the cover, even though he's a bit whiter than the author says he is. It would be really interesting to learn more about his convoluted family history. Seems like there are some stories there!
Book Source = Library Copy