Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Review: Tithe - A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black

Tithe by Holly Black
Published: October 1st, 2002
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
310 pages (paperback)
Genre: Young adult fantasy
Acquired this book: at the library
Warning: may include spoilers

Synopsis, taken from dust jacket of book: Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad.  Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother's rock band until an ominous attack forces the sixteen-year-old back to her childhood home.  There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms - a struggle that could very well mean her death.

To be perfectly honest, when I first started this book, I didn't think I was going to like it.  I don't know why exactly, or at what point I really got into it, but I ended up really enjoying it.  I love any book having to do with faeries, and this was completely different from anything I've read - it was not only the dark side of faeries, but a bit of the dark side of teens, too.  I guess that was part of what I didn't like at first - Kaye was rebellious in a way that I never was as a teenager, and did things I didn't do - drink, smoke, shoplift, drop out of school.  And although I couldn't relate to her on those levels, she was still a great character, very real and believable.

I enjoyed the darker side of faerie in a way I didn't think I would.  I like the magic of faerie - the harmless trickery, the glittery wings, the sex appeal of a bad-boy faerie - but Tithe was much more about the sick and twisted things that faeries do to each other, and to mortals.  The not-so-innocent tricks they play, the dangerous, disturbing side of things, and there were certainly parts that were disturbing.

Cornelius (Corny) was a character you don't see too often in books.  The guy friend who's kind of dark and twisted, looking for an escape from his boring life and the people in town who think he's strange.  He finds that escape in Kaye and her journey, and although they make an odd team, they compliment each other - they're both outsiders, both seen in a certain way, and both looking for something more.

Then there's Roiben, the Seelie knight who's been traded to the Unseelie Queen to do her bidding, and who Kaye stumbles upon one night and finds herself almost instantly attracted to.  Because Roiben's bound to the Unseelie Queen, he has to do whatever she says, no matter how much he hates it, which makes him one of those characters that you're unsure of from the beginning but that you can't wait to learn more about.  Dark, mysterious, tortured.  He and Kaye are drawn to each other, even though they both try to fight it, and the tension between them makes for an interesting line of the bigger story.

I'm anxious to find out what happens in the next book, Valiant.

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  1. I really like the cover on this one and it sounds really intriguing - not sure about a character named "Corny" though. I think that would set me giggling every time I read it.

  2. Tithe's inner blurb states that it is a young adult fantasy tale written by a brand new author with an exciting and imaginative voice and, for a change, the raves are true! If you're into darker edged fantasy, where the faeries are more likely to wound tender flesh than sprinkle one with faery dust, where sex, violence and various debaucheries are all part of a typical day in the faery kingdom, then do yourself a favor and buy a copy of Tithe. It's the perfect book to chase away the mid-winter blahs. Big thanks to Preeti, my reader friend ... for bringing this deliciously dark book to my attention.


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