Author: Holly Black
Series: A Modern Faerytale #1
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (June 20th 2008)
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My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Welcome to the realm of very scary faeries! 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 the sixteen-year-old 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. Newcomer Holly Black's enormously powerful voice weaves teen angst, riveting romance, and capriciously diabolical faerie folk into an enthralling, engaging, altogether original reading experience.” GoodReads’ blurb
Rath Roiben Rye, marry me!
Did it work? No? Thought so... but I had to try.
This one was an audiobook for me, and I think there’s a good chance that the reading alone has put one extra star in my rating... But no matter what, truly enjoyed Tithe!
First things first, though: a lot of people complain about the world in Tithe being dark, bleak and not particularly hopeful. They say that substances suspiciously similar in effect to drugs are mentioned; that there’s drinking and smoking involved... And all that it’s true. That said, it didn’t bother me. On the one hand, because I’m an adult who’s young and not so much a young adult any longer, but also because I don’t really believe in ratings except when it comes to erotica. Teens are exposed to all this stuff; it’s their everyday life, along with romance and drama and bad language and the firm belief that the world begins and ends with whatever happens to one.
With that part out of the way, I have to say that I loved Tithe in all its seediness. I particularly liked it because it gave us dark, twisted faeries. Even the good ones are capricious here, and trusting the wrong person is a deadly mistake. In Tithe, most of the faeries see humans as a source of entertainment at best and they lack the moral needed to be able to tell that what they do is wrong... or to care about it.
In that line, the main plot behind Tithe is perfectly understandable and also enjoyable: for once, I enjoyed that the teen angst and romance wasn’t the spotlight, but rather the side-product of the point in the story. Don’t mistake me, there’s still plenty of angst and the romance does play an important role, but the truth is that the events are bigger than Kaye.
Kaye herself is perhaps not the kind of girl I’d want as a best friend, by the way. She has her heart in the right place, since she does worry about her friends, goes to extreme lengths to protect them, and has adopted a nomad lifestyle in order to better care for her mother, never once recriminating her. That’s all great qualities that make the reader sympathetic. The bad part is that she’s a bit of a slacker, with pickpocketing abilities and a total disregard for schedules and proper things.
Then again, I think I can’t blame her, with her dysfunctional family and less-than-ideal perspectives. Same as I can’t blame her for falling for Roiben, because when your life’s so bleak and a faery knight, gentry and eerily beautiful, waltzes into your life... Well, you just grab on with both hands.
Roiben himself is more broken than he lets on, and I think that might be what attracts him to Kaye. She’s also broken, and she knows that he is (though not how deeply) and still she’s kind to him, never wanting to force him or to take advantage of him in spite of the situations. She accepts him as a friend, as a member of that close circle of people she’d do anything to protect, and that’s just so new to him.
At least, that’s what I believe. The part of Roiben’s attraction is not too clear, and it’s what I missed the most: it might have been a bit fast and jumpy at some points, like when Kaye was trying to explain something and in the end doesn’t, but Roiben acts as if she had.
The ending was really sweet and I loved it, but I will be listening to the next book right away because there are so many more things I want to know about: like what happens with Cornelius? I’m not sure how much of a good guy he is, no matter how much Kaye tries to protect him. I also want to know what happens with the Summer Queen, because I believe she’s not going to just sit back and wait. And I want to know how things evolve between Kaye and Roiben, because their situation at the end is complicated, no matter how much of a Happily Ever After it looked like at the time.