by Holly Black
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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.
Lie until even you believe it-that’s the real secret of lying. The only way to have absolutely no tells.
Too bad I’m not quite there yet.
When I try to think of a word that reminds me of this book, the most forthcoming is just this: Weird. This book was all kinds of weird. But, when I take the time to really delve deeper and actually peel back the layers of this intricate story-line, I begin to ‘see’ so many more words pop into my mind: Haunting, clever, mesmerizing, addicting…sweet. There are so many ways to look at a story and if you filter all the mystery out of the words, then it does, in fact, come off as a super weird book. But when you totally immerse yourself and ask ‘Why is this happening?’, ‘What triggered this?’, ‘Where the hell is this going?’, I swear that you’ll find yourself racing through the pages and before you know it, you’ll be closing the book. It’s that kind of story.
I don’t want to be a monster, but maybe it’s too late to be anything else.
Cassel is one of those characters that really gets under your skin. You don’t quite know why you like him, but you find yourself laughing at his sarcasm, feeling pain for this kid who grew up feeling like the most insignificant member of his family. You find yourself smiling at his charm and your heart breaking when he thinks of Lila, his childhood best friend (and only friend), and the girl he killed years ago. This sounds shady as fuck, I’ll give you that, but in this world, everyone wears gloves to hide their ‘curse’ and to prevent their touch from doing irreparable damage by making contact with someone’s skin. This is a world where children grow up around con workers as mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers. Even if you aren’t involved with the con work, there’s still a chance you’ve been ‘cursed’ and are considered a worker. This simply means you might have a touch that causes selective memory loss, luck, death, etc. But with each of these ‘gifts’ there is ample cost-No gift in their world comes without a price.
I hate that I love this. I hate that the adrenaline pumping through the roots of my body is filling me with giddy glee. I’m not a good person.
You’re probably still wondering about how he murdered his best friend and the girl he’s always been in love with, right? I didn’t know how I’d feel about it, personally. But, for whatever reason, I found myself identifying with him, sympathizing for him, hoping it was all a misunderstanding and that he had been worked. See, Cassel is the only one in his family without a gift-he is the only non-curse worker. I think this made him a really sweet and relatable character, and all the more identifiable as someone who had significantly screwed up in his past. And, more than that, it was devastating to see how much he just wanted his brothers to love him and accept him, but instead they grew up stomping him under their foot as if he was an insignificant piece of trash, just because they could. Now, I can’t say nothin’ about anythin’ but I will say this-If you grew up with a deplorable family that did deplorable things…what keeps them from conning you?
Marks think they can get something for nothing.
Marks think they can get what they don’t deserve and could never deserve.
Marks are stupid and pathetic and sad.
Marks forget that whenever something’s too good to be true, that’s because it’s a con.
At times I found this to be very dark and even somewhat disturbing, but that was more at the beginning. Once I began to see everything unwind, it all started to make sense and I became fully immersed in figuring out what was wrong with the distorted picture we were being given. Lies upon lies, and betrayals on top of betrayals, we don’t get a clear picture until the end-and even then it’s like looking through fractured glass. It was excellent.
The easiest lies to tell are the ones you want to be true.
Altogether an amazing story that I couldn’t put down even for a minute. More than once I was covering my mouth with my hand to stifle a gasp and begging for a better end than what was coming for Cassel. In a way, this book was almost told through an unreliable source’s eyes and we are left wondering what’s reality and what’s make-believe. I loved this aspect. Each time we learned something, we realized there was so much more to the story and it never really stopped growing as a plot, it never really and truly ended. So, I absolutely cannot wait to start book two. If it’s even half as good as this one I will be ecstatic…but more than that, I can’t wait to see what becomes of Cassel and his new-found ‘friends.’ He’s still trying to figure all that out. And that cliffhanger-agh!!!