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REVIEW – Red Glove (2011) By Holly Black

April 19, 2011

THE ZONE has my review of Holly Black’s Red Glove, the second book in the Curse Workers series that began with White Cat (which I liked very much indeed).

White Cat struck a chord with me because, much like Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom (2008), it combined postmodern and fantastical sensibilities with tropes taken from old fashioned caper movies in order to interrogate the nature of the self. As I suggested when I wrote about The Brothers Bloom, the caper movie is all about imposing meaning on the world and assuming roles for the purposes of achieving a particular goal. Much like The Brothers Bloom, White Cat blurs the line between the true nature of the individual and the role they play in the con or caper. By blurring this line, we ask ourselves, are we really anything more than the roles we assume? Depressingly, Red Glove does not follow up on any of these ideas.  In fact, it contains no speculation about the nature of the self or any real capers.  Instead, it is just a story of angsty teenagers moping about with nothing to do until the third volume in the trilogy turns up.

Red Glove is an absolute dog of a book:

if White Cat ended with events trapped in a holding pattern then Red Glove is an elaborate exercise in maintaining that holding pattern whilst still milking a book’s worth of material from the same set of characters. To say that this is a book in which nothing much happens is an insult to books that do not place a priority on plot as Red Glove is all about the plot; it is just that the plot seems designed to maintain unresolved plotlines in an unresolved state.

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