Tithe – Holly Black

Release date: 1 October 2002
Rating: ★★★★★★★ – 7/10
Goodreads link
Book Depository link

Tithe (Modern Faerie Tales, #1) blurb:

In the realm of faerie…

Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she drifts from place to place with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient and violent power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms – a struggle that could very well mean her death.

I don’t really know what else Holly Black writes, but she should definitely keep writing Faerie books. Black seems to just understand Fae lore and be able to twist it around her own stories as easily as I twisted pipe cleaners during art when I was 7. It just works and I love it.

Kaye grew up with her mother, constantly on the move, and after their luck runs out, they move home to live with her grandmother (why yes, it does have a The Hazel Wood vibe to it). Once back in the house she grew up in, Kaye unexpectedly meets a Fae who needs her help, and she realises the “imaginary friends” from her childhood may not have been so imagined after all. And then after receiving her due thanks from the Fae, something comes undone and a secret is revealed that changes everything.

The two main characters in this novel are Kaye and Roiben. They are both facing their own struggles and yet they somehow (some say it may be fate) end up helping each other at a time of need. They are totally different from each other – Kaye being impulsive, flippant and rebellious; Roiben is strict, cool and purposeful. They are at opposing views and yet somehow, they work.

I love urban fantasy novels. I love how there’s already a starting point to the world – so the author equally doesn’t have to do as much world building, but has to do more in making the magic part work. It’s a little bit clunky in parts, but considering this is Black’s first published novel, I think we can cut her some slack on this.

You can definitely tell that this is bordering on an early version of The Cruel Prince. Black has a few plot devices that are quite similar in both books, but because this appears to be a standalone (the trilogy is three standalones from what I can tell*), it’s like a condensed version with less plot points explored. This is even to the point where Jude and Kaye seem to be opposites of each other. However, the language is easy to read and quite enjoyable – I steamrolled through this book in one sitting.

I’m now off to read book two – Valiant. Happy reading!


* Actually, the books follow a chronological order, with book two (Valiant) happening after the events of book one. While there are different characters, the worlds are brought together in the third book in the series (Ironside), with a small mention of Kaye and Roiben at the end of book two.

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