Book Review: Red Glove by Holly Black
That was never going to be easy for someone from a worker family that’s tied to one of the big crime families—and whose mother’s cons get more reckless by the day. But Cassel is coming to terms with what it means to be a worker, and he’s figuring out how to have friends.
Except normal doesn’t last very long. Soon Cassel is being courted by both sides of the law and is forced to confront his past—a past he remembers only in scattered fragments, and one that could destroy his family and his future. Cassel will have to decide whose side he wants to be on, because neutrality is not an option. And then he will have to pull off his biggest con ever to survive….
My Review: I had picked up Red Glove a long time ago and it took the right mood before I was able to read it. What intrigues me about this series is the world itself, the way the magic works at the touch of a hand and the whole mobster and criminal backing to it, which creates room for a great deal of conflict. Cassel's character has developed quite a bit since the previous book, and the loss of his naivety and innocence really improves the overall feel of the story. What I didn't enjoy about the first book was that Cassel seemed too naive to have grown up around criminals and mob families. After learning everything from the first book, Cassel becomes a bit darker and a bit more reserved, which made for a much more pleasant and believable read.
Along the line of characters, I really enjoyed getting to see Lila and her character progression throughout. She came into her own in a way she didn't-- and probably couldn't-- in the first book. She went from some mysterious and wonderful thing in Cassel's mind to a real character, which was nice to see.
Most of my sighs in this book just comes down to fundamentals. I feel like Holly Black spends too much time trying to build up the mystery and doesn't leave enough time to let the resolution of it hit home. The entire book the plot focuses around this woman in red gloves who murdered Cassel's brother, and the resolution to that plot is shoved into half a scene at the end. There was no satisfaction to the resolution because it almost felt tacked on, a secondary thought to the plot between Lila and Cassel, which ends on a tense note.
Which leads me to another annoyance. I have yet to make any conclusions until I read the final installment, but that final scene between Lila and Cassel felt like the most exciting part of the book, which made the rest feel like fodder and set up for the finale. I suppose that's my own grievance more than anything else.
The writing style is very straight to the point, and at times, I find rather bland. Because of this, when the author describes anything, it becomes painfully obvious that it's going to play a part in the story, even just a minuscule one, as opposed to describing an entire scene and leaving the 'smoking gun' hidden among other details. It makes the narrative feel predictable at times.
All in all, Red Glove is an easy, smooth read, though not at all "dark" or "noir," unless you consider PG13 noir. I'll be looking forward to the finale, at least to see how this all comes together.
TL;DR: 3/5 stars. An interesting idea but a not so interesting execution.