Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tithe by Holly Black (A Modern Faerie Tale)

Published: August 30th 2004 by Simon Pulse
Turtleback, 331 pages
ISBN-10: 0689867042
ISBN-13: 978-0689867040

Welcome to the realm of
very scary
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.


One would to describe tithe--the word, not the whole book--sacrifice. From the very beginning, you experience the challenged world of Kaye's life; looking after her mother, keeping a full time job and dropping out of school. When she grew up, she saw faeries that were her day-by-day entertainment. Spike, Gristle, and Lutie-loo. After moving and staying in no-where particular, she hasn't seen her friends--both human and faerie--in years. After one evening out with her old school friend, Janet, an epic change in her daydreams leads to a series of unexplainable actions until Kaye finds out the truth her faerie friends have been hiding for far too long. With these revealing secrets, soon Kaye acquires a new view for the color green, saving a knight from the Unseelie Court from a untimely death becomes more troublesome then she ever thought a favor to be. 

Tithe was set to be a dark, distractingly addictive read that'd consume you within the prologue. The small poems at the beginning of every chapter were a nice touch. I had to stop myself every time I read one, and think how it cooperated perfectly with what was going on in the chapter at that time. Kaye is a powerful character that takes everything that is thrown at her with a fluidity you'd envy in the hardest times. With a very unusually destructive-thinking friend, Kaye sets out to some very fearless adventures to get some answers of her purpose in the Unseelie/Seelie Court debacle.
Black's writing style is one I can admire because unlike many other authors, instead of staying stuck in one scene for endless amount of pages, she moves forward in the story and doesn't linger. From Kaye's point of view, the meetings with both faerie Queens and their courts had an impressive sense of imagery with due to both creatures and scenery alike.
The ending was comfortingly perfect after such a moving plot; just a wrap-up that let's you know there's going to be future stirrings of that faerie world.

Recommended to readers that enjoy dark, engaging novels with cheery and twisted faeries!

Grade: B+

Favorite Lines/Quotes:

'Her mother bent close, the smell of whiskey and beer and sweat as familiar as any perfume to Kaye. "Cigarette kiss," her mother said in that goofy way that was embarrassing and sweet at the same time, touching the tip of her cigarette to the red tip of Kaye's and breathing in deeply. Two sucks of smoke and it flared to life.'

Poems I enjoyed:

"For beauty is nothing
but the beginning of terror we can just
barely endure,
and we admire it so because it calmly disdains
to destroy us."
-- Rainer  Maria Rilke, "The First Elegy," Duino Elegies

"A word is dead
When it is said
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day."
--Emily Dickinson, "VI. A Word."

" Better to reign in Hell, then to serve in Heav'n."
--John Milton, Paradise Lost (Book I)