book reviews by Althea

Valiant – Holly Black ***

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(Modern Faerie Tales, #2)

Not quite as good as ‘Tithe,’ I thought, but I still enjoyed this very much.
Val, a teen from New Jersey, runs away when she finds out that her mom has been having an affair with her boyfriend. In shock, she goes to NYC, and falls in with some squatter kids living in the subway tunnels.

The best part of the book is the portrayal of the squatters, and the culture clash between their reality and that of the sheltered suburbanites. The author really captured the milieu – how such kids can be troubled, yet smart, have issues, but yet be welcoming, supportive and accepting. Still, she doesn’t romanticize it.
It reminded me (a lot) of stuff I did in my teen years. I found it convincing.

Of course, urban vs. suburban isn’t the only conflict here – the squatter kids are in touch with faeries, and involved with running a magic potion that helps urban faeries survive in the presence of iron. Unfortunately, for humans, the effects are an awful lot like those of heroin.

When faeries start turning up dead, the mystery of who’s killing them needs to be solved… and that’s where I didn’t think the book was as strong. It ended up being a pretty typical drugs-and-murder-mystery kind of plot, with a bit of supernatural romance thrown in. It wasn’t bad, but, as I said, I liked ‘Tithe’ better. (I thought this was a sequel, but they both work as stand-alone novels; they’re just set in the same reality.)


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