All right already - enough vampires for now. I took a break and returned to Holly Black's gritty world, in which the darker aspects of human society meld with those of faerie. This book, while set in the same world as Tithe, is a standalone novel that has barely anything to do with characters and events from Tithe. But that was okay with me - after a few pages, I was hooked. Although I'd still like to read more about Kaye and Roiben, I found Val's story just as compelling - and I'd now like to read more about her!
The story begins as Val discovers something shocking, something that makes her feel sick and betrayed by the people closest to her. Angry yet cushioned by complete and utter shock, she takes the train from her New Jersey hometown into Manhattan. And while, in the back of her mind, she expects to go back home at some point, somehow she just doesn't. She hooks up with a couple strange but fascinating street kids, who take her through dark, wet subway tunnels to their "home," an abandoned subway station that is filthy and smelly, but relatively safe. One of the boys, Luis, can see creatures from faerie, or so he claims. Val, struck by the very strong desire to know the truth (an understandable reaction, given the sense of betrayal she's feeling), barges into a situation that she knows very little about, and finds herself beholden to a very real creature of faerie.
Val's journey is not an easy one, and she makes some terrible decisions along the way. The mom in me was shocked and upset by some of the events in this book, but at the same time the darkness and grittiness fit well with the plot and theme. In the end it was an honest novel about a very hurt and betrayed girl learning to trust herself and stand on her own two feet. So, no complaints here, worried mom voice or no!
The book is also a murder mystery - someone is poisoning creatures of faerie, and this mystery entwines itself around the lives of Val and her friends. I enjoyed the melding of the fantasy and mystery genres - it was a very fun mix. The next book in Black's "Modern Faerie Tale" world is Ironside, which continues the storyline of Tithe. I'm excited about that, but I do hope someday we will get to read more about Val and her friends.
Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie by Holly Black (Simon Pulse, 2005)