Summary from Goodreads:
The first in a trilogy, this gritty, fast-paced fantasy is rife with the unexpected. Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn’t fit in at home or at school, so he’s used to feeling like an outsider. He’s also used to feeling guilty—he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.
But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, and people around him are losing their memories, he starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas—and a plan to con the conmen.
Not much information is given as to the nature of the magic in this book, and even by the end I was still a little fuzzy on it. Basically there are some special people in the world, around the lines of 1% of the population if I remember correctly, who are able to “Work” certain types of magic if they can touch you or an object. A Luck Worker, for example, can touch you (only with fingers as far as I know) and cause either bad or good luck. Because of this, gloves are all the rage and you’re basically required to wear them. It would be like not wearing pants if you don’t have gloves on. I like this idea but then she mentions even infants have to have gloves on because otherwise they could Work accidentally and that left me with a strange and vaguely uncomfortable feeling. Nevertheless, the concept is great and I was interested from the get go, but it ended up falling a little flat for me.
I’m not familiar with Holly Black’s work but the writing and characters are pretty strong in this, and according to other reviewers on Goodreads, this is a huge improvement over her past novels. I was intrigued from the beginning for where the story was going to go. Time has been kinder to my opinion than I was upon immediately setting it down – now all I remember is that it was fast paced and action packed, but my notes belie those emotions. I was rather bored by the sides characters and the constant act of questioning a memory for realness or not grew exhausting.
There’s something about running elaborate cons that I obviously find intriguing because whenever there’s a conman in a book nowadays I always love him. Maybe because I’m a terrible actor and too honest for my own good? Hah, sure, let’s go with that. At any rate, the cons were always hilarious and I loved that she came up with them.
Overall, I’m left with a pretty “meh” feeling about this one. I really wanted to like it, but it was just ok for me. I might check out the sequels but I’m not going to go out of my way to possess them.