Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A modern faerie tale

Sixteen-year-old Kaye is not a typical heroine, especially for a teen fantasy novel. She is a high-school dropout who smokes, shoplifts, and drifts with her musician mother from one city to another as her mother finds jobs with different bands, always hoping for her big break. But Kaye is also compassionate, intelligent and strong.

She and her mother move back to her grandmother's house in New Jersey, and Kaye is glad to be back. Her childhood friend, Janet, still lives there, and Kaye has many happy memories of time spent there, with Janet as well as her imaginary playmates.

On her way home one night Kaye finds a wounded man in the forest. He is strange and otherworldly, and she immediately recognizes him for the faerie he is. She impulsively helps him, starting a chain of events that takes her life in an entirely unexpected direction. She discovers she is not who she believed, and that not only are her imaginary friends all too real, but they need her help. They warn her that the handsome faerie knight she saved is dangerous and unpredictable, a member of the Unseelie court. But as much as she is determined to stay away from him, their paths keep crossing, eventually leading Kaye into the faerie mound, a dark, dangerous and cruel place.

This is a gripping read, well written with words and images that convey the beauty and brutality of our world as well as the world of faerie. I particularly enjoyed her Kaye's relationship with her mother, which was sweet and anything but usual, as well as the friendship that developed between Kaye and Janet's older brother. There is humor, romance, suspense, and a very satisfying conclusion. I thoroughly enjoyed this teen novel, and I'm looking forward to reading Valiant, which is another "modern faerie tale," although it appears to be a standalone, rather than a sequel.

Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black (Simon Pulse, 2002)

12 comments:

  1. Oh, I love Holly Black's books! I really enjoyed Tithe and I thought Ironside was just as good, if not better. I haven't read Valiant, though I do own it. Ironside is the direct sequel to Tithe whereas Valiant is a separate story set in the same world. But characters from Valiant do appear briefly, in Ironside.

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  2. Sounds interesting,I love fairies and fantasy fiction, the cover is great, and I'm so influenced by the cover in bookshops. To know that is also good is just a plus:)

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  3. Oh, this sounds great! I'll have to add this to The List.

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  4. Oh - I hadn't seen that Ironside was out - thanks for the tip, Dance Chica. Should I read Valiant next anyway, do you think, since it's chronological and there is some character cross-over? I'm kind of a stickler about that! :-)

    I'm influenced by the cover, too, Valentina, even though I try not to be. The other day I was helping a boy find a copy of Coville's Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, and we found three copies on the shelf, each with a different cover. We compared all the covers, and he chose the one he liked the best. It was clearly a revelation to him that the same book was being presented in three different ways, but one book looked great, one looked all right, and one looked really dated, not so good at all. Even so, it is usually the cover art that draws my interest first!

    Nicola - this was good, and coincidentally I read another faerie-related YA novel on vacation (working on that review right now), and it had a much different plot and theme, and was also very good. Stay tuned...

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  5. I have this one sitting on my shelf as we speak! Maybe I should add it into the RIP challenge list. I've seen it on a couple of other people's lists.

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  6. I think it would be a good one to add, Chris - it certainly has a dark and spooky side to it. I actually picked it up because I was thinking of putting it on my YA horror list for my library's website, and it looked interesting. It's a quick read, too, which might help you get through the challenge while still getting a little sleep!

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  7. Oooh, sounds intriguing! Thanks for reviewing this!

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  8. Well, I'm usually big on following a series in order, too, but I decided to skip over Valiant at first because 1) I heard it didn't continue Kaye and Roiben's story; that it was set in the same world but with different characters (at the time I was only interested in Kaye and Roiben) and 2) I'd heard a lot of people express disappointment in Valient (I think largely because they'd been expecting a sequel rather than a different story). But since some characters from Valient do appear in Ironside and give away things that happen in that book, I suppose it would make sense to start there, BUT, if you want to skip over it, not knowing what happened in Valient wont't hinder your enjoyment of Ironside.

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  9. Thanks, dance chica! I guess I'll read Valiant next (especially because it was on the shelf at my library, and Ironside is checked out). I think knowing it's not a sequel from the get-go will help me take it on its own merits. I appreciate the input!

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  10. I love these books. Valient is stand alone, but still very much in the faerie realm and worth reading. I just bought Ironside which I think is a sequel to Tithe and just came out in paperback which I will hopefully read next week.

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  11. I'm looking forward to Valiant (when I finally get to it - but since it's a library book, I will be ruled by the due date!) - I've decided to read it first, even though it's not the sequel. That way I can happily anticipate the sequel as I'm reading!

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