Review: Red Glove

I’m going to let you know up front that if you haven’t read White Cat yet, you should go do that tout de suite. It’s the first book in the Curse Workers series, and Red Glove is the second book. In this series, Holly Black sets up a world almost exactly like our own, but with one big difference: there are people called curse workers who each have a sort of magical power. There are emotion workers, luck workers, memory workers, dream workers, death workers, and rarest of all, transformation workers. A lot of fantasy books go overboard with the amount of cool magical shit they try to cram in, and they sometimes suffer for it. Much of the beauty of what Black has done here is that it’s so simple, but she’s fully thought out the consequences of curse workers existing. Everyone wears gloves all the time because workers give a curse with the touch of their hand, and you don’t know who could be a worker. A bare hand is risque and dangerous. There’s an anti-worker political movement and a worker’s rights counter-movement, and many workers have formed mobster families because working is illegal. The setting is modern, but these things make it feel very noir and gritty, as if parts of it came right out of the 1940s.

Cassel Sharpe is our protagonist, and at the end of the last book he uncovered a terrible secret about himself and his worker family.

Minor spoilers for Red Glove under the cut.

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Darkness Becomes Her

Darkness Becomes Her looks like your run-of-the-mill paranormal romance, right? It’s dark and gothy and you’re pretty sure the heroine is going to be a weepy emo princess. Well, color me surprised when I started reading this and the heroine, Ari, was swearing like a sailor from the first page and clearly did not let anyone fuck with her. This book is smarter than your average paranormal romance.

First, let’s talk about Ari. I fell in love with her from the first page just because of her attitude. Ari is awesome, okay? She grew up being bounced between foster homes and is currently being raised by a couple of bounty hunters, who are teaching her the trade. That means Ari kicks a lot of ass. (Though she’s not a superhero – the fighting is described pretty realistically, with Ari making up for her small stature by outsmarting opponents and kneeing them in the groin a lot.) I was a little skeptical when she described her odd appearance, though. Ari has silver Rapunzel-style hair which can’t be cut or dyed, teal eyes (not blue, TEAL), and a small tattoo of a crescent moon under her eye. That’s like every Mary Sue fanfiction character ever! Luckily, Ari’s personality and tenacity is enough to make up for it.

Oh, God. I’d just killed a man – my fingers flexed on the hilt of the blade – with a goddamn, fucking-ass, miniature sword.

How can you not love that?

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Sisters Red

You know those books that you don’t expect much from, but you think, “Oh, this will be a fun, quick read” and then you’re totally sucked in and blown away? This was one of those books. Sisters Red was published a few months ago and I can’t believe I haven’t heard more buzz about it, because I loved it! What I thought was going to be just another werewolf story turned out to be a surprisingly layered and touching story about two sisters and their love for each other. Pearce has a unique take on werewolves, which are called Fenris in her book, and the monsters lust after young, frivolous women. It’s not just a new spin on werewolves, but also a play on the story of Little Red Riding Hood, and THAT is my absolute favorite thing on this book. Because while Scarlett and Rosie March must rely on their curvy bodies and act like giggly, weak, helpless girls in order to lure the Fenris, they’re actually totally badass Hunters who don’t need to be rescued by anybody. It’s a great twist on the old trope of the young woman being preyed on by a man/monster who disguises himself as someone friendly. In this book, the March sisters disguise themselves as easy prey, and then turn on the Fenris, who are the real prey.

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The Lost Gate

The Lost Gate is the first book in a potentially great new fantasy series called The Mithermages. Unfortunately, I probably won’t read the other books in the series because I was so offended by this one. But I’ll get back to that later in the review.

Our story begins with Danny North, a thirteen-year-old boy who lives on his family’s compound in Virginia. The North family is a family of mages, all descended from the Odin and Thor of Norse mythology – except for Danny. Danny has showed no sign of any magical ability, even though he’s well past the age when most kids start to exhibit skills. This means that Danny can’t hope to have much of a future with his family; he’ll have to learn to live like the drowthers (regular, non-magical folk). Except! Then Danny finds out, entirely by accident, that he is a Gatemage. Gatemages can create gates through space and transport themselves or others anywhere. The famed Loki was a Gatemage, and because of the last Loki’s sins, any Gatemages who are discovered are killed on the spot. So when Danny fears he’s been found out, he runs away from home and begins his quest to find out more about his power and why it’s so feared among mages.

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Sapphique is the sequel to last year’s Incarceron, which was one of my favorites of the year. Catherine Fisher doesn’t disappoint with this follow-up. When the first book left off, Finn had just managed to escape from the prison, but had to leave his Oathbrother Keiro and companion Attia behind. Sapphique moves at a breakneck paces, switching every chapter from the characters in the Realm (Claudia, Jared, and Finn), and those still locked inside Incarceron. Sapphique manages to add even more depth to the world it takes place in, and the characters are really forced to step up.

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