A blog for young readers (and YA lovers) from the Providence Athenaeum.
The Providence Athenaeum is a unique library and cultural center in the heart of Providence, Rhode Island. Growing out of the Providence Library Company (fourth library in the United States), the Athenaeum as we know it was formed in 1836. Our handsome building on the corner of Benefit and College was completed in 1838.
We are one of the few surviving membership libraries in the nation. Student memberships are available - visit or call for more information.
This blog is updated by one of our circulation assistants (and YA enthusiast), RJ. Follow us to find out what's new in our Young Adult corner, or just for a daily dose of literary shenanigans.
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In celebration of the 2012 summer reading theme across Rhode Island, Own the Night, every Monday our blog will feature two night-dwellers or otherwise creepy characters facing each other down. Vote on one below, or come on in to the Athenaeum to vote in person and see the full bracket of all the contenders!
This week we have the bright enchanting villain of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe versus the shadowy criminal caretaker of Holly Black’s Curseworker series. Grandad and the White Witch are both characters a charming smile and deadly touch.
If you haven’t read Holly Black’s Curseworkers series (White Cat, Red Glove and Black Heart), first of all, you should. In the world of Cassel Sharpe and his con-artist family, magic isn’t found through a wardrobe but at the tip of a curse worker’s fingers. Cassel’s Grandad used to be tied to the mob, but he’s mostly put his working days behind him. At any moment, though, he could slip off his gloves and use his nefarious magic gifts – death work, the power to kill anyone with the brush of his fingers. His, ahem, remaining fingers, that is.
The White Witch has more power, as she was able to keep all of Narnia into an endless winter. And though she doesn’t have Grandad’s touch of death, her habit of turning anyone who displeases her into stone has essentially the same end result.
This contest would likely come down to a test of wills and wiliness rather than magical prowess. Would mob-savvy Grandad fall for the White Witch’s enchanted food and false promises? Would the cunning White Witch underestimate the old man enough to let him close enough to touch her hand? What do you think? Who’s left standing? Who will own the night?
Book three in Holly Black’s Curse Workers Trilogy, Black Heart, has arrived at the Providence Athenaeum! I just finished it myself, and it’s a great conclusion - easily the most thrilling and addictive of this dark urban fantasy series, and wrapped up with a morally ambiguous sort of hope. Any summary or synopsis would likely spoil some surprises in the first two books, so instead, here’s an excerpt from Chapter 1, when our hero (using the term loosely) Cassel has an unexpected run-in with an assassin sporting gold teeth:
“That girl - if you know her, you know what she’s about.” He reaches into his mouth and pulls out a loose tooth - a real one - black with rot at the top. It sits like a flawed pearl in the palm of his glove. Then he grins. “Good thing murder pays so well, right? Gold’s expensive.”
I try to hide my surprise. A death worker who loses only a single tooth with each hit is a very dangerous guy. Every curse - physical, luck, memory, emotion, dream, death, and even transformation - causes some kind of blowback. As my grandfather says, all work works the worker. Blowback can be crippling, even lethal. Death curses rot a part of the worker’s body, anything from a lung to a finger. Or, apparently, something as minor as a tooth.
“What’s a death worker need a gun for anyway?” I ask.
“That gun’s real sentimental. Belonged to my gran.” Gage clears his throat. “Look, you’re not going to shoot. You would have done it already. So can we just -“
“You sure you want to double dog dare me?” I say. “You sure?”
That seems to rattle him. He sucks on his teeth. “Okay, all I know is what I heard - and not from her. She never said anything, except where I could find him.”
…Girls like her, my grandfather once warned me, girls liker her turn into women with eyes like bullet holes and mouths made of knives. They are always restless. They are always hungry. They are bad news. They will drink you down like a shot of whisky. Falling in love with them is like falling down a flight of stairs.
What no one told me, with all those warnings, is that even after you’ve fallen, even after you know how painful it is, you’d still get in line to do it again.