Red Glove: Sacrifices the main plot for intriguing settings and secondary characters

Red Glove (The Curse Workers Book 2) Kindle Edition by Holly Black (Author)Red Glove (The Curse Workers Book 2) Kindle Edition by Holly Black (Author)Red Glove by Holly Black

Following the events of White Cat, Red Glove (2011) finds Cassel, the protagonist of Holly Black’s series THE CURSE WORKERS, simultaneously dealing with no shortage of familial drama and direct fallout from his actions in the earlier installment. Red Glove is thus a direct continuation of the series that seeks to build upon the established characters, world, and particular circumstances revealed at the end of the first novel: with varying success.

Red Glove takes the time to let the reader engage more with the stand-out secondary characters of the series. Some of my favourites, like Cassel’s school friends, become more central to the mystery and in turn get more nuanced side plots of their own. I liked seeing the world grow in this way, and thought it brought a great deal more to the book to let those characters have more depth. In those characters I got more of what I liked about the first book: insight on the social landscape in a world where a natural talent (curse work) is prohibited. The time with the people outside of Cassel’s family furthered that exploration in satisfying ways.

The plot of Red Glove was somewhat simpler than its predecessor. Cassel is trying to solve a murder. I’m not a mystery reader per se, so this aspect of the story wasn’t as engaging as the central mystery of White Cat. I also found it a little too easy to narrow down who the culprit might be. Overall, the plot of this installment wasn’t as intriguing as the first book.The Curse Workers (3 Book Series) by Holly Black

There is a distinct shift in tone between the first and second book of THE CURSE WORKERS and that is that this installment follows a more classic ‘whodunnit’ plot. Many of the mysteries of White Cat were internal to Cassel himself, whereas Red Glove places a clear, singular mystery in the wider community of curse workers to which Cassel belongs. This shift outside of Cassel himself proved to strengthen some aspects of the series, while weakening others.

I enjoyed Red Glove almost exclusively for the background aspects. The social setting built on the existing framework of the prior installment in new and interesting ways, the secondary characters took on new life, and the subplots were poignant and interesting. All of those aspects kept me going through a more simplistic main plot. I am certain I will get around to reading the next installment, Black Heart, to see how the series wraps up.

Published in 2011. Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe’s world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else. That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she’s human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila’s been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila’s love is as phony as Cassel’s made-up memories, then he can’t believe anything she says or does. When Cassel’s oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can’t trust anyone—least of all, himself? Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

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SKYE WALKER, who has been on FanLit’s staff since September 2014 (after a brief time on staff as a YA reviewer in 2007-2008), is from Canada. Their HBA in Anthropology and Communications allowed them to write an Honours paper on podcasting as the modern oral tradition of storytelling: something they will talk about at any and all opportunities. Skye is a communications professional in the non-profit sector. These days their favourite authors include Ursula K Le Guin, Bo Bolander, and Chris Wooding. They can be found on social media @cskyewalker.

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One comment

  1. You like this series a bit more than I do, I think. I’m eager to see what you make of BLACK HEART. That will help me decide if I want to read beyond the first one.

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