Review: Tithe by Holly Black

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Genre: Young-Adult, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 332
Series: Modern Faerie Tales #1
Release Date: October 1, 2002

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4 Stars

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Tithe is about Kaye, a little girl who has three imaginary faerie friends. But at age 10, she and her mother move away and she doesn’t see them again. Six years later, when an incident forces them both back to town, Kaye finds out that her “imaginary friends” are actually real and so are other faeries, and she finds herself becoming part of a fae plot for independence that she doesn’t know much about.

…Because she’s stupid.

Okay so that last line isn’t part of the official synopsis but it’s true. I am, honest to God, going to make a GR shelf called TSTL just so I can add this novel to it.

And the sad part is that Kaye is actually a very clever girl and she does possess a brain. She simply neglects to use it in many situations. Many deadly situations. And it annoys the hell out of me. Sometimes I suspect she’s high. Other time I think it’s a deliberate move by the author to move the plot along. Thankfully she, Kaye, does learn through the course of the novel, and I’m optimistic that she won’t be TSTL by the end of the series.

But apart from Kaye’s occasional bouts of un-brain, I really liked her. She was a very unique character in the sense that she wasn’t a squeaky clean girl. She was a high-school drop-out, had the teenager-who-doesn’t-give-a-shit-about-anything attitude down and even had her moments of trickery and mean-ness. It made her relatable.

The best aspect of the novel is still the world though. Because just like with The Darkest Part of the Forest and White Cat, Holly Black manages to create a complex and interesting world in such a short novel, all the while developing her characters and advancing the plot at a very good pace. World-building is something many authors struggle with. But Holly Black always manages to do it expertly, without make you feel like you’re being overloaded with facts. It’s probably my favourite things about the author.

In this novel, the world is dark, it’s gritty, unforgiving and cold. People are assholes and faeries are so much worse. You can never know who to trust and Kaye really wants to be able to trust those she knows. Unfortunately, between discovering huge secrets and trying to stay alive, trust is difficult to come by.

Except maybe with Roiben, a faerie night who I really liked. He was a really good guy who’d been handed the short part of the short end of the stick and had many trust issues of his own. But still, he wanted to do the right thing and was one of the few reliable people Kaye had. I’m eager to know more about him since we didn’t have much get-to-know-you time in this book. Looking forward to Ironside, which is the third book, since the second one features a completely different cast of characters.

To summarise my unorganised mess of a review, I liked this novel very much and I’m looking forward to reading more of the series. Holly Black is awesome.

 

P.S. This is a Tam Lin retelling, for those who are familiar with the tale. I’m not, sorry.

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