Holly Black

The Curseworkers Book 1

Gollancz (2010)

ISBN: 978-0-575-09671-4

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

Cassel is trying to live an ordinary life. He attends boarding school, gets good grades, and flies under the radar, even if he’s not, strictly speaking, following all the rules. But then he wakes up on the roof of his dorm and finds himself shunted back to his family. His very un-ordinary family. Cassel’s family are curse-workers, users of magic who are forced underground, into the crime world, by law. In a world very like ours, where one in 1000 people have a gift, or curse, to be able to work a form of magic, Cassel’s family blossoms with talent.

But not Cassel. Which makes him different, and glad to be so, despite the devastating secret he holds tight. When Cassel realises that strange things happening in his life, he starts to fear for his sanity, his safety, and his life.

This book hooked me from page one, reeled me in for the duration of the story and threw me back at the end. While Holly Black writes a compelling story with a vivid and fascinating cast of characters, it was actually the worldbuilding which really drew me in. Such a clever idea, and executed with the style only Black can manage. This is a fantastic young adult novel that will suck readers of all ages in and it will satisfy all. I’m so delighted it’s the first of a new series, because even though it’s a self-contained work, with a distinct ending I want more!