June 14, 2006

SUMMER READS: Not Your Mother's Faeries

I can't imagine how I've never posted anything by Holly Black before, but somehow I missed posting my review of Tithe! Well, no worries. It's a novel that isn't really explainable, because the storyline is multisensory, multilayered angst over grit. You've just got to read it!

Kaye is sixteen, and her life's already kind of a disaster. School isn't doable, of course, not while traveling with her Mom's band, and her Mom's singing career is, as usual, about to unravel. Kaye gets her Mom to safety when one of her boyfriend goes whacko on them, and they end up at Grandma's, where Kaye spent a lot of time growing up. Things aren't so good there, either. They're actually downright weird... all those imaginary friends she used to have aren't exactly imaginary. Her friend Janet's boyfriend is acting weird toward her. And then she meets this guy, Roiben... and he's, like, bleeding, at the edge of the woods. Something's going on. Her 'imaginary' friends say it's the Wild Hunt. And they're looking for a tithe...

This novel has all sorts of folktales like Tam Lin and others woven through, paired with filthy New Jersey and modern times. It's a wild ride, and you'll enjoy it. The end leaves space for a sequel, and there's word Black is working on it!

More recently, I finished Valiant, a novel set in the same gritty universe as Black's first book. Things aren't quite ...normal in the faery realms. There's been a power shift, since Kaye came to town, and there have been some changes. One of the worst changes is that the fey are... dying. Someone is poisoning them. But that's really no concern of Valerie Russell's. Her best friend, Ruth, is the one who'd know about that kind of stuff. She's the artsy one, the queer one with the velvet smoking jackets and all the snappy comebacks and the style. Val is just... herself. She has a boyfriend. She plays lacrosse. She lives with her Mom, who is kind of ditz, being makeup obsessed and a real estate agent, on top of that, but she's okay.
When the life Valerie thought she knew cracked open and exploded, she heads into New York and finds herself sleeping on the street. She has no idea of anything, but she knows she's never going home, not now. Head shaved, she squats with a loopy girl named Lolli and her boyfriend, Sketchy Dave, who lead her to their underground hovel. Luis, Dave's brother, isn't happy. Lolli says it's because he works for goblins, dealing some kind of drugs or something. She offers to show the disbelieving Val the goblin she's talking about...

Edgy and dark, Black's second novel is just as good as her first, and you'll want to clear a couple of hours to sit down and finish it!

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