REVIEW: Tithe by Holly Black

Forget what you know about faeries and their world. Just wipe them from your mind. In Holly Black’s Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale, the faeries are a malevolent bunch looking to spill mortal blood. Ms. Black has a vivid imagination that includes magic, enchantment, goblins and riddles. I was enthralled with this story from the beginning to the end.

Kaye is not human; she’s a changeling. After living sixteen years as a mortal, she finds herself manipulated by the Fae. The Fae have always been a secretive part of her life. During her childhood, Kaye remembers having had three “imaginary friends” that she would play with at her grandmother’s home in Jersey. It’s been years since Kaye and her mom have been back home to Jersey. As the story opens, they leave Philly to stay with her grandmother temporarily. While there Kaye seeks out her fey friends only to find them gone and that something terrible has happened.

Kaye’s mother, Ellen, doesn’t win any awards for being the best mom; she’s an alcoholic and continues to live a life of self-delusion. Continuously pursuing a dream that has long passed her by. Kaye is a high school drop out with no direction or parental supervision. Many a time Kaye has had to be the adult; often quitting school to find work.

Kaye is seen as awkward and weird by her friends. She is described as having Asian looks with blond hair. She is not apart of the “popular crowd” of kids. Her circle of friends includes Janet who lives in a trailer park with her pimply faced brother Corey. Weird things seem to happen to her when she’s alone. Magical things. One evening after leaving a party and heading home, she runs across someone wounded in the road. From the looks of him—-he’s fey. With an arrow to the chest, she helps him evade further attack. The person she saves is Roiben. A knight in the Unseelie Court who is viewed by many of the solitary fey as a person to be feared.

There seems to be two types of fey: the solitary fey who are bound to servitude to the Gentry of the court and those who rule the court; thus you have the two courts: The Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court. The Seelie court houses most of the benign fey while the Unseelie Court seems to house most of the malevolent fey. Fey who would rather spill blood out of amusement and sheer boredom. Roiben is a knight in the Unseelie Court, handed over by the Seelie Queen in exchange for another Knight. It is this ambiguity of Roiben’s role to the Unseelie Court that makes him a complex character.

Kaye’s role in their world hinges on the Tithe or sacrifice of human blood for freedom of all solitary fey. Kaye eventually learns that she is not human and is soon convinced to be a sacrifice for the Tithe. The Tithe frees all solitary fey for seven years leaving them  bound to no Gentry or mortal. Kaye is not human therefore, the solitary fey wants her to pretend to be human so that the Tithe becomes void. Thus, she is the catalyst for the events that lead up to the changing of leadership in the Unseelie Court. When the Tithe gets sabotaged, Kaye have no idea that her actions have consequences for mortals and fey alike.

The author does an excellent job of contrasting the fantasy with reality. This is a dark story with a bit of violence and to some— offensive language. I was surprised that this title was targeted to teens. It seemed somewhat more suited shelved in SF/F aisle. I enjoyed the novel for the sheer imagery of it. The author seems to have a very vivid imagination. I really enjoyed this world that she created here.

And did I mention the the hero? He is hot. In a reserved way. Think Orlando Bloom from Lord of the Rings. Roiben is described as having long white hair that flows down the length of his back and wears nothing but black from head to toe, encased in a long, black, body length cloak.{ Swoon.} Roiben and Kaye have great chemistry together. Their romance was just getting started when the book ended.

This is a great tale of urban fantasy with well fleshed out characters who are cloaked in ambiguity. I read this book in two days and didn’t want to put it down. Next time your in the book store, stop over in the YA section and look for Holly Black’s Tithe. Overall grade, A-. She has a sequel already out and I already have dl’d called Valiant. And what looks to be a third book in the series titled Ironside, due out May 2007.

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14 Responses to REVIEW: Tithe by Holly Black

  1. Jane says:

    I read this book and really enjoyed it. I haven’t bought the sequel yet. It got some negative reviews and was published in hardcover. I’ll be interested to see what your review says about the sequel.

  2. Kailana says:

    This book looks good, I have never heard of it before. 🙂

  3. jaq says:

    I remember picking this book up in the store because of the artwork, but faries aren’t my thing. After this review, I’ll have to check it out.

  4. Cece says:

    On my keeper shelf! As is Valiant–Jaq Valiant is more Urban Fantasy than Tithe IMO but both are great. I can’t believe I have to wait so long for the third book 😦

    Jane FWIW I think the hardcover is a cheaper HC than say an adult HC. (and smaller)

  5. CindyS says:

    Okay, if this one is darker than Twilight then I’m going to have to flip it out for Tithe.

    CindyS

  6. Dance Chica says:

    Faeries aren’t my usual interest but this sounds good. I’ll give it a shot. I’m going to add this to my ever growing wishlist. 😉

  7. Cece says:

    Cindy I couldn’t finish Twilight 😦

  8. Avid Reader says:

    I have a Twilight dissenter. Cece! What happened? No one book will have universal appeal. I’ve enjoyed Twilight and Tithe. Both are very different from each other but Cindy doesn’t really care for YA novels if I understand her right. Cindy, stick with Twilight 🙂

  9. Cece says:

    It was good but the last time I picked it up all the showing drove me bananas!!!! I’ve tucked it away. Maybe one day when I have lots of uninterupted time, I’ll try again.

  10. ag says:

    Ooh, my … you’ve got me intrigued with that Orlando/ Legolas remark. And I’ve always have a soft spot for witches and faeries.

    One more for the list then, it seems 🙂

  11. Dance Chica says:

    Yeah it was that Orlando/Legolas remark that got me too! LOL

  12. yuki says:

    Tithe is one of my favorite books. I love how Holly wrote it and I envy her writing. I with to be able to create something as amazing as this book one day.

  13. LuLu says:

    I loved Tithe I just fished reading it about a half an hour ago and I want more! I have just found out about the sequel Ironside and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

  14. I think this will be my ninth time reading it. Suffice it to say, both Tithe and its sequel, Ironside, are a main component of my crack addiction.

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