By Holly Black
“Pet the cat dude," says Sam. "She brought you a present. She wants you to tell her how badass she is."
"You are a tiny tiny killing machine." Daneca coos.
"What's she doing?" I ask.
"Purring!" says Daneca. She sounds delighted. "Good kitty. Who's an amazing killing machine? That's right. You are! You are a brutal brutal tiny lion! Yes, you are.”
In Cassel's world, some people can do magic and some people can't, but everyone knows it exists. The majority of the non-magic users fear people who do magic, so magic is outlawed. Therefore, the magic users tend to band together in organized magical groups, and since magic is outlawed, these groups participate in organized crime. In other words, a magic mafia.
That's right - a magic mafia!
So Cassel's family are all magic practitioners and are connected to a major crime family. Cassel, though, (if I may steal a term from Harry Potter) is a squib - the only non-magic person in a magic family of con artists. His mother is in prison, his brother is interning at a law firm trying to get her out, and his other brother is an enforcer for the mafia don's heir apparent. Cassel's grandfather does the dirtiest work of all - his touch can bring death.
In this world, all magic is used through the power of touch; everyone wears gloves to keep from getting "cursed." But for every magic touch the magic wielder uses, he or she get's a whiplash-type effect. So if you are a memory worker, you lose your own memories. If you can kill someone with a touch, a part of your body dies (Cassel's grandfather is missing many fingers). So magic wielding isn't all fun and games, but Cassel still feels like the black sheep in the family because he doesn't have a gift.
To make matters worse, he killed his best friend.
The story follows Cassel as he tries to make a normal life for himself, but is finding that hard to do with his last memory of his best friend, his confusion about why he killed her, and other major family issues. And considering the fact that his best friend is the Don's only child and Cassel's family is keeping the secret that Cassel killed her, the issues are vast and troublesome. The story has a lot of twists and turns, but it is an engaging urban fantasy mystery. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes an edgier read with a supernatural twist!