"I thought that I could never betray my family, never work someone I loved, never kill anyone.... Life's full of opportunities to make crappy decisions that feel good. And after the first one, the rest get a whole lot easier." 


Cassel Sharpe grew up thinking he was the only ordinary member of a criminal family possessed of special powers. Now he knows the truth. He is a rare transformation worker able to transform any object with a mere touch of his hand. Manipulated by his family, who used his powers and then erased his memory, he is trying to readjust to normal life. But when his brother is murdered and federal agents show up at his door looking for answers, Cassel must find the killer and confront the possibility that his actions may have put his family in danger. 


Red Glove (Curse Workers Series #2) is the second book in Holly Black’s The Curse Workers series, set in a world where magic has been criminalized and is controlled by mobsters. Cassel’s rare skill has also drawn the attention of the powerful Zacharov crime organization. Torn between his family loyalty, his feelings for Zacharov’s daughter, Lila, and his desire to do the right thing, Cassel puts his skills to use trying to put things right. With the help of his best friend Sam, who’s obsessed with horror films and special effects, and Daneca, an activist dedicated to (magic) workers’ rights, Cassel’s future rests on his ability to pull off the biggest con job of his life. 


Holly Black is best known for her Spiderwick Chronicles series for young readers, along with the grittier Modern Tale of Faerie books focused on teenagers involved with the faerie world. The Curse Workers titles are not the first books to focus on teenagers coming into supernatural powers. But Black’s inclusion of confidence scams and organized crime makes these books stand out in a market stuffed with supernatural thrillers. Despite the inclusion of supernatural powers, the struggles Cassel faces in dealing with the criminal family he loves, while trying to stay on the straight-and-narrow, are all too human --- as are his difficulties deciding who he can trust, when he’s used to manipulating people to get what he wants. “That's the problem with not trusting people,” he says after tricking someone into giving him legal advice, “you never find out if they'd have helped you on your own." 


The final volume in the series, Black Heart, will be released next spring. Since it depends heavily on information from the first book, Red Glove is best read in conjunction with the first book, White Cat. The revelation that ends Red Glove will surprise you --- not just the complex con Cassel organizes, but the identity of his brother’s killer. I can’t wait to see what the final book will reveal. Will Cassel be able to stand on his own, or will he turn to a life of crime? As his friend Lila observes as she watches him struggle with seemingly impossible choices, “Changing is what people do when they have no options left."


Link to last year's Letter Blocks post on White Cat:



Link to The Curse Workers website, which has, among other things, a story generator:



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