This is the second book in a trilogy, and as such not the best place to start. This review will contain some spoilers for book one, because it’s impossible to write about this book without talking about things that were revealed in the first one. So if you are new to these Holly Black books, go find White Cat – that’s where to begin the trilogy.
Cassel Sharpe lives in a world where a select percentage of the population have certain gifts. People who, if they touch your skin with theirs, can alter your luck or prospects, manipulate or delete your memories, alter or change your emotions, break your bones or heal your illnesses. Some can even kill. In the United States, there is heavy legislation against what is known as such curse working. Everyone has to wear gloves, because you never know who might be a curse worker, manipulating you in some way. Because curse working is mainly seen as a bad thing (despite the fact that the majority of workers mainly use their powers to bring good luck or can heal the sick and injured), those who discover they are gifted with such powers keep it very secret, or go on to join organised crime, because all the major crime bosses are curse workers.
On the flip side of having a cool superpower, there is the blowback. Every time a worker uses his or her abilities, they get a reaction. Physical workers who use their powers to hurt or heal get sick themselves, emotion workers get very emotionally unstable, death workers actually lose body parts and memory workers lose their own memories.
Cassel believed he was the only one in his family of grifters and curse workers not gifted. His mother can completely change people’s emotions, his older brother Phillip could break people’s bones, his middle brother Barron can completely rewrite or delete people’s memories and his grandfather is a death worker. Cassel himself is one of the rarest of workers, he can transform items or people, alter their appearances or even change them into animals or inanimate objects. His mother and brothers wanted to keep him unaware of his gifts until he got older, so his brother Barron started changing his memories, making him think he was just a regular human. Over the course of the first book, Cassel discovers that his brothers kept rewriting his memories, using his transformation abilities for their own ends. Full review.