(The Curse Workers, Book One)
By Holly Black
Narrator: Jesse Eisenberg
*Looks around confused* “ummm what?”
Length: 6 hours & 41 minutes
Genres: Fiction, Young-adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Magic
Take a Peek: Audible | Overdrive | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Story Rating: 3 Stars
Performance Rating: 2 Stars
Overall Rating: 3 Stars
As I anxiously wait for The Raven King to become available (it’s on hold in my Overdrive account and I’M DYING) I needed a distraction. Unfortunately, all the new books I’d like to read were taken so this was the lucky winner. White Cat came out in 2010, so I know I’m a little late to the party here, but beggers can’t be choosers.
This book wastes no time, thrusting us head first into the plot where Cassel Sharpe (I listened to the whole audiobook thinking it was Castle. Oops.) is standing on the ledge of a building, sleep walking. He’s just about to hurl himself off the roof of his school when he wakes up and—naturally—freaks the freak out. After calling for help and getting down, everyone thinks Cassel was trying to kill himself and doesn’t buy his I-was-really-sleep-walking sob story. The school officials decide they don’t want to take any chances and temporarily kick him out so he can get help with his family. This plan would be stellar if his relatives weren’t a bunch of sketchy “workers,” or people with magical abilities that can use their powers with the touch of a hand. Cassel’s grandfather is a death worker (his touch can kill people), his brother Barren is a memeory worker (he can manipulate memories), his other brother Philip is a body worker (his touch can effect someone’s body), and his mother is an emotion worker (she can make people feel whatever she wants). Needless to say, they tend to run on the wrong side of the tracks and Cassel has always stood out as the only family member with no magical talent at all.
Although this lack of mystical power has always bothered him, it has never stopped Cassel from loving or trusting his family. Blood is thicker than water, right? But this idea gets tested when he’s forced to stay with his brother Philip and sees some suspicious activity. Cassel has spent the last four years riddled with guilt after waking up from sleep walking, standing above the dead body of his best friend/girl crush Lila. With no one else around, Cassel has always thought he was the one to kill her and it’s been eating him alive. Now that he’s around his family, however, Cassel starts questioning this for the first time and sniffs around for answers.
Cassel definitely finds what he’s looking for and a whole lot more, uncovering a scheme that’s been going on right under his nose his whole life.
Okay, I need to start by saying I personally can’t stand Jesse Eisenberg.
Don’t you have a celebrity that just grates on your nerves for LITERALLY no reason? I don’t know Jesse Eisenberg and he’s probably a lovely person, but I just can’t take him in movies (besides Zombieland because that’s just the best film ever). Had I noticed he was the narrator, I would have steered clear of this audiobook from the start. To say I was thrown off and confused when his voice rang out over my headphones would be an understatement. But I love Holly Black and have a special place in my heart for her Modern Faerie Tales series (Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside), so I tried to give this a chance. Take everything I say in this section with a grain of salt, because Jesse Eisenberg kind of tainted the whole experience for me.
I found his voice to be SO BORING. There was very little variation or inflection in his tone and Cassel is a pretty analytical character in the way he thinks and schemes. That combination had me tuning out for long sections of audio and then scrambling to play catch up when something major happened. At a mere six and half hours, this audiobook should have taken me a day. Maybe two if work was really busy. But in the end I clocked out at over a week because I had to force myself to listen to it.
Part of me also thought Cassel’s character was a bit dull. Cassel deeply loves the people he cares about and I really felt for him when everything is revealed at the end, but he has a cool detachment that I wasn’t really able to sympathize with. As a kid I was such a goody goody and hearing him strategize ways to steal documents or trick his headmasters went a little beyond me. Once Lila came into the picture with her bad-girl confidence and take-charge attitude, I found myself more interested in her than Cassel.
I know it sounds like I hated this, but I really didn’t! The story itself is good and I loved the way Holly Black slowly unraveled it piece by piece. We discover the answer to every mystery with Cassel, which was fun to experience. And despite having a hard time relating to the main character, I thought the dark, criminal, mobster side of this story put an interesting twist on the magical world Black built. The powers the “workers” have are so subtle and it was fascinating so see how they effected our modern day society. It added a richness to the setting that I really appreciated.
Meh. Actually read it, don’t listen to the audiobook. I think this story would be worthwhile if my own brain had provided the narration.