Review posted May 5, 2011.
Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York, 2011. 325 pages.
2011 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #4 Fantasy Fiction for Teens
Red Glove is the second book in Holly Black's Curse Workers trilogy. And, yes, you definitely need to read White Cat first.
This is an alternate world where certain people are born with the ability to do magic with a touch. There are luck workers, emotion workers, dream workers, memory workers, physical workers, death workers, and the most rare of all, transformation workers. However, doing magic has been declared illegal, so the curse workers have gone into organized crime. Magic tends to run in families, and some powerful crime families rule the underworld.
Red Glove continues the absolute brilliance begun in White Cat. Right at the beginning, Cassel's oldest brother Philip turns up dead. Who killed him? Did the head of the crime family, who promised not to kill him, go back on his word when he learned Philip had gone to the Feds?
I'm afraid I didn't find Red Glove terribly satisfying. Cassel has no good choices. He's in love with Lila, who plans to be head of the Zacharov crime family. Her family wants him to work for them. His remaining brother wants him to work for a rival family. And the Feds want him to work for them. But they also want him to investigate several disappearances -- disappearances that Cassel learns he was responsible for himself.
Meanwhile, the government is pushing for mandatory testing, so everyone will know who's a curse worker and who isn't. And Cassel just wants to graduate from Wallingford and make a life for himself.
Cassel pulls some clever plans in this book, but I wasn't completely happy about how things turn out. Yet I can't imagine a better option -- he's set up in a world where he can't win. I'm hoping that's simply because this is the second book of a trilogy -- when things are supposed to look black. I can't imagine how Holly Black will come up with a triumphant end to this trilogy, but I am confident she's going to pull it off, and I hope she does it SOON!
This is another exceptionally written book. The world of the Curseworkers is completely believable, and you will find yourself completely pulled in.
I should add that this is the kind of trilogy I prefer -- where each book does come to a good stopping place, though all build together. Cassel's solution is definitely clever, and weaves together several different problem threads that come up during the book. But he's definitely got some new problems he'll need to deal with in the third book. I can't wait!