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 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.
Oi, another throwback review. I know, I know. I am running low on new materials. However, I have been sucked in once more to the incredible work of art that is Holly Black’s storytelling. Thus, here we are with a re-read of Tithe one of her most well known and loved YA novels.
I had read this book many, many years ago, but somehow retained literally none of the plot or characters. As I started reading this again, I was quick to figure out why. This book is hardcore and shows the not so pretty side of the fae (aka-this book was a bit too intense for my twelve-year-old self that first read it). If you go into this book expecting Tinker Bell, or even Spiderwick Chronicles, you will not be met with your expectations.
Tithe follows the story of a teenage girl who is, well, living not a super great life. Her mom is more of a child than she is, and she’s lived her life jumping from place to place, working any part-time job she can to keep food on the table. However, through all of this, magic has been around her. She couldn’t quite pinpoint how, or why, but weird things always happened to her, and she had an oddly active imagination when it came to her imaginary friends (or so her family told her).
The story that follows her is dark and gritty, sometimes becoming almost hard to read. However, as Black is so fantastic at doing, this book made the traditional folklore of the fae seem very real in our current world. Her writing never fails to be some of the most immersive around. You read this book and you will be expecting to come across wounded fae knights in the woods because it’ll just seem like a normal happening. Black’s magic is her ability to make the unlikely seem average.
All in all, this is a great piece of YA writing. It’s a bit on the darker side and maybe a bit too much for some younger, more sensitive reads (like my tween self, lol). However, if you’re up for seeing the real fae, without the glamours of Disney or Hollywood, this should be right up your alley. It reminds me of An Enchantment of Ravens with a bit of The Cruel Prince thrown in when it comes to its treatment of the traditional legends. However, the writing is very much Holly Black to the core.
3.5 out of 5.