Monday, May 12, 2008

A Modern Day Faerie Tale


This weekend I needed something to read, so I picked up Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black (336 pgs, Simon Pulse). It's a book I'm using for the Young Adult Reading Challenge, though I think it would fit perfectly well in a category for the Once Upon a Time II Challenge.

Kaye Fierch isn't your average 16-year-old girl. She hasn't been to school since she was 14. She got a job to help her Mom pay the bills. To be honest, she was more of an adult than her Mom, who spent all her nights in bars singing in a band. Besides, Kaye was always considered a little weird. As a child, she spoke to Faeries, though everyone thought it was all in her imagination.

When an attack on her mom left the two without a place to stay, they were forced to go back to New Jersey to stay with Kaye's grandmother. As Kaye got a chance to look up old friends, she meets a Faerie Knight that is wounded. This starts off a chain of events that leads her right in the middle of a war between the two Faerie Courts, the Seelie and the Unseelie. The bright and the dark. The tradition of the Tithe is being brought back. It is the sacrifice of a mortal. And it will require that all the solitary fae, those that aren't a part of either court, be bound for seven years in servitude to the Unseelie court.

Just when Kaye starts to understand that she herself is set up to be the mortal sacrifice, she is blindsided with more news. For the last 16 years, Kaye has been living a life that wasn't hers to live. She is not a mortal at all, but part of the Fae world herself. Now with her mortal friend, Corney, and the Dark Knight, Roiben, she has to figure out who to believe. Things are not always as they seem.

I really enjoyed reading this book, although it is exceedingly darker than I originally expected. Holly Black has created a strange and dark world in which faeries aren't exactly the nicest creatures around. In fact, they are down-right frightening!! Kaye is a great character in that she has feet in both worlds. She is faerie by birth, but having lived in the mortal world for 16 years, she is starting to understand the delicate balance of power between the two worlds. And the need to keep each world in it's place.

My only major complaint at all is that this book IS marketed to the young adult set. As a 16-year-old girl, Kaye spends more time in bars with her mother than anywhere else. She drinks and smokes and is a high school dropout. There is also a lot of sexual innuendo that is just way too much for those under the age of 16. It's not a book that I would go right out and buy for my son, who reads at this age level now, at age 11.

But for older kids and adults, I think it's a unique story about new worlds. And I'm looking forward to reading Ironside, the follow-up to this book. 4/5

Also Reviewed by:

17 comments:

samantha.1020 said...

This sounds interesting. I'm gonna have to check it out.

Darla D said...

Great review, Stephanie! I felt the same way reading this - I enjoyed it very much, but it is awfully dark. Definitely a book for older teens, as you say, dark but powerful and compelling.

Stephanie said...

Thanks Samantha! If you like stories of Faeries, you will probably like it!

Darla - Thanks! I did enjoy it. But it just kind of nibbled at me that it's marketed to young kids. And that usually doesn't bother me too much. But I did like it. And I'm looking forward to the next book. Have you read it yet?

Melody said...

Great review, Stephanie! I think I've heard of the author's name but just didn't get the chance of picking up her books, yet. I'll have to add this to my wishlist.

jpderosnay said...

this sounds like great fun. and particularly something that my wife would like.

i really like those revelations where the person discovers that they were different all along.

thanks for the review!

Debi said...

Yeah, and there are idiots out here (who shall remain nameless) who were dumb enough to let their 10-year-old daughter read it.

Darla D said...

I've read Ironside and Valiant as well, and each time I was a bit struck by the extreme grittiness of the story, but loved the books. We shelve these books in the YA section of my library, for good reason. :-)

Stephanie said...

Melody - Thanks!! I liked it!

JP - Yeah, it really made the story. If your wife likes faerie stories, she will love this one!!

Debi - Yeah, well....I probably would have given it to my son if I hadn't read it. Truthfully, though, Annie is probably way more mature than alot of 16 year-old's I know. I wouldn't worry too much about it!

Darla - I'm thinking I will have to pick up Ironside when I get back to the library!! I added your review as a link!

Nicola said...

I must read this soon! Great review!

Darla D said...

Thanks, Stephanie - I added yours to mine, too! :-)

Nymeth said...

I really need to read this one. It sounds very dark, but then again, I like dark. And I like how, from what you said, she seems to have been very faithful to traditional fairy lore.

Trish said...

What a beautiful and frightening cover! :) Sounds like an interesting tale--glad you mentioned the more adult content.

Andi said...

I've seen this book for a while, and I've been intrigued by the cover, but I never investigated much. Thanks for a great review!

PK said...

This definitely looks like my cup of tea :)

Kailana said...

I can't get over the difference between the cover you have and the cover I have!

Rhinoa said...

I am glad you enjoyed this book and I hope you read the rest of the series. I know what you mean about younger children reading it, I had the same feeling. I did love it though and would definitely recommend it.

Espana said...

This book was an impulse buy and now I'm passing it around to all my fantasy-book loving friends. I couldn't put it down. Despite what previous reviewers have said, this book nails my teenage experiences and I haven't been 15 for 15 years. Sorry, moms, but bad parenting, sex, profanity, drug use and especially nihilism were endemic and this book has them all. You will have to use your judgement as far as when to give it to your kids. I wouldn't. I think it's important that parents give their kids the books whose outlook they approve of, and just in principle, I doubt this is one of those. I'd let them find it on their own. Books are more fun that way - think of all those years I put off reading Tolkien because my mom liked it! Depending on your kid, age 13 might be young, it might be perfect. It's definitely pretty good for age 30. My only real complaint is that it was over too soon