White Cat by Holly Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An alternate reality, one in which magic workers are real - some can kill, some can con, most just bring luck or hope - and in which bare hands are a rarity. This is an interesting world, and Cassel's role in it is unclear at first. He's a non-worker in a powerful family of workers, the youngest brother of three, and trying to fit in to a relatively posh boarding school. His mother's a con artist (currently in jail) and he's picked up quite a few of her tricks, including how to make book.
As the story unfolds we learn more about how workers work, and about Cassel's conflicted family life. His relationships with non-workers are also interesting: he feels he's spent 2 1/2 years conning his way to normalcy at Wallingford, but by the end of the book it's clear that he was never viewed as "normal" although he does have friends (something he didn't think he had). Given that within the space of three weeks his beliefs about his past and his family are completely shattered, he's a little too sanguine about the changes in his life.
In part because the exposition is lightly given the story feels a little more natural than most fantasy books. The pacing is a little off at times, with action scenes sometimes halting a little abruptly with a twist that takes it into a new direction.
Copy provided by publisher.
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