Book - Valiant
While I enjoyed the Spiderwick books, I was dying for Holly Black to return to writing for teens as she did in TITHE. I'm not a faery fan, but I loved what she did with TITHE, and I wanted to see if she would create more edgy, dark faery characters and settings. She is still Queen of the Shocker Opening: Val catches her boyfriend making it with her mom. Val's flight to New York after this results in her meeting with street teens who live in the tunnels under Grand Central. With them she comes to see the faerie world, not the Disney sugar-coated one, but the perilous one where humans can be used up and spat out, where the inhabitants are beautiful and deadly. Her new friends introduce her to Ravus, the troll pharmacist who brews potions, including the drug Never. It makes it possible for the faery people to live in our world without slow poisoning from exposure to iron, but it makes humans feel, and act, like the faeries. They can even do magic.
But there are problems. Never is addictive. Val, who earns Ravus's trust as they talk and she serves as a runner for his drugs to his faerie customers, becomes addicted and steals from him. And his customers are getting murdered. Ravus, with whom Val is falling in love, is the prime suspect, and the faerie court that exiled him and his customers to our world is coming to deal with the murders and with him.
This is a powerful book. It's about betrayal, homelessness, addiction and its poisonous effects on relationships and lifestyles, love, appearances, and hate. It's about making decisions and living with them. It's about choices. It's pure Holly Black, dark and wonderful and beautiful. No, it's not TITHE, and that's good. If I want to read TITHE, I have it on my shelf. And while I didn't set out to read about addicted kids, she says a lot of powerful things about how people get addicted to something, anything, without realizing that they're getting addicted. It doesn't have to be a substance--it can be a person, or a way of life. I'd like to know that, so when I feel like Val does in VALIANT, I'll know I'm drifting into an addictive mindset.
As always, I love it when a girl learns how to *be* Valiant.