August 7, 2013 by Heidi
Welcome to New Jersey! The state that brought us Zach Braff’s Garden State (or I suppose the Garden State that brought us Zach Braff) and diners on every block. We usually stop there for gas, because it’s cheaper…and that’s about all I have to say about Jersey.
Personal favorite? White Cat by Holly Black.
What’s your favorite New Jersey read?
Title: Tithe [Goodreads]
Author: Holly Black [Website|Twitter|Tumblr]
Standing: First in a trilogy, can be read as a stand alone.
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Retelling
Published: April 1st, 2004 by Margaret K. McElderry Books (first published in 2002)
Format: Paperback; 331 pages.
Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city 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 power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms – a struggle that could very well mean her death.
Rath Roiben Rye.
Three little words that hold such great power.
Enter the world of Holly Black’s mind: a world where every edge is sharp and every corner is dark; a world that tastes like ashes, but smells subtly sweet. These are the faeries I’ve come to adore, and hope I’ll never ever meet. Kaye finds herself wrapped up in the machinations of the solitary and court fae, uncertain if she can trust her instincts or her friends.
As I have come to expect from devouring Black’s Curse Workers series, her world building is phenomenal. In such a short book (though believe me, I’d have been happy were it 100 pages longer), Holly Black manages to wrap you in a shroud of the deepest night, leading you to revelries unmatched and unknown. She parallels the cruelties and kindness of fae and humankind, and gives us characters all the more real for their shattered pieces. Kaye is cruel for a human; Roiben is kind for a faerie.
Holly Black’s prose–and characters–are gritty and hard. Kaye is the daughter of an alcoholic who just accepts that that’s the way life is and chooses not to dwell. She’s a high school drop out too wrapped up in her own world to be concerned about her future in the real one. She’s always been considered a little crazy for her “imaginary” faerie friends, and she isn’t known for making the best decisions. In short, though she is the type of girl I never would have hung out with in high school, she’s precisely the type I can’t stop reading about. The troubled girls, the ones with a cruel side–willing to taunt and tease, but still craving real affection like the dying crave water. The trouble in Tithe, is that Kaye can never be sure if the affection she’s given is real, enchantment, or part of a ploy.
Tithe is a Tam Lin retelling, and though I am familiar with the tale and have seen aspects of it used in other books (An Artificial Light, The Seven Tales of Trinket), it is the first strait retelling I’ve read. It does veer quite a bit from the original tale, but not so much that one wouldn’t recognize it for what it is. I love the separation of love and mortal by the addition of Kaye’s friend, Corny, and Black’s flushing out of Kaye’s human life made the tale that much more gripping and tragic. And Roiben. A man that had been broken, and can’t quite be put back together again, but may be all the more beautiful for his flaws.
While I greatly enjoyed Tithe, I did long for more pages to bolster the emotional development between Roiben and Kaye. More room to show the depth of friendship forged in tragedy, and the inability to return to normal once you have forgotten what that means. Basically, I feel it could have used some more meat on its bones, but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t shadows of those emotions underneath the surface, easily read by those who care to look. I don’t mind perspective shifts in books, but I dislike when they feel vastly imbalanced as they did here, however, Holly Black’s writing is both grimy and atmospheric, and I will quite happily push her on any who will listen. I’ll also be returning to Jersey with Valiant and Ironside quite soon.
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Category Miscellany, Review, Young Adult | Tags: book events, Booking It Across the US, Celtic mythology, fae, fairy tale, fantasy, Miscellany, New Jersey, retelling, review, Tam Lin, urban fantasy, young adult