Cassel comes from a family of curse workers -- people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail -- he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.
Sooo, I'll admit that I didn't particularly like Black's other books. I read the first few chapters of Tithe and couldn't do it. I'm not someone who particularly likes fae. But this book was very, very different, and I adored the world she created around the curse workers. It was quite intricate and detailed--major pluses in my book. Anyhow, this was a fun read, and a quick one at that. It took a while for Cassel to grow on me, as he's not the most friendly of characters, but that's just who he is. Quite the ultimate "bad boy" really--one that's bad, even if he longs to be good, but can never seem to reach it :)
Something else that I thought about while reading is the rules the magic has in this book. There are quite a few blogs and articles out there discussing that magic must have "rules" or not come for free in books, or at least that's what most people seem to think. Harry Potter kind of gets around this by needing to go to school to learn how to do things correctly, but has also gotten flack for not having the magic of his world have consequences. Black's take on things is the exact opposite, where all magic has "blowback" or repercussions for the worker. I'm not sure how I feel about this. While it works in her setting, I'm not one to necessarily think this is a hard and fast rule regarding how world building must work. I mean, if you're going so far as to allow for the magic to occur in the first place, must it also be bound so tightly? Does that lend it some kind of added authenticity? I'm not really sure. For me, I'd be just as willing to believe it worked without the repercussions, as sometimes they seem to be added just to make things more complicated. My thoughts at least...