Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Book Review: Tithe

I just finished reading Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black.  I really enjoyed  her Curse workers trilogy, so I wanted to read more by her.  Since I'm usually a sucker for all things fantasy, I expected to love her Modern Faerie trilogy.

In Tithe, 16-year-old Kaye Fierch has been living a rootless existance.  Her mother is trying to make it big as a singer, and changing from band to band, or moving from one boyfriend's apartment to another.  Kaye hasn't attended school in two years and works full-time at a Chinese restaurant to help pay the bills.  She also has the not-so-glamorous responsibilities of tearing down the band's equipment and fishing her mother's head out of various toilets when she drinks too much.

But then, within the first chapter, the current boyfriend attempts to stab her mother, with no seeming cause.  So they pack up and move out.  The only place they can find to go is to live with Kaye's grandmother, in a New Jersey town where they lived until Kaye was 10.  This leads to Kaye revealing that, as a child, she used to see and talk to faeries.  Oh yeah, and also, sometimes she seems to work magic without knowing how.  She describes herself as "weird."  Yeah... understatement.

Upon returning to Jersey, Kaye accidently enchants her only friend's boyfriend to fall in love with her.  Whoops.  While walking home from that feat, she happens across a wounded faerie knight.  She pulls a wicked arrow out of his chest and summons a kelpie to save his life, and he agrees to reward her with the answers to three questions.  Oh, and she develops a huge crush on the knight.... who may or may not be evil, as it is revealed that he killed one of the faeries she used to play with as a child.

And then her other faerie friends show up and reveal that even though she's spent 16 years living as a mortal--surprise!--she is actually a faerie in disguise.  Apparently she was switched at birth and has a powerful glamour on her to make her look human, but she's actually a large green winged pixie.  And  hey, by the way, we need you to go along with a plan where you pretend to be a human sacrifice for the "bad" faeries (the Unseelie Court), so then the solitary fey can gain 7 years of freedom.  Sure, no problem--Kaye accepts all of this with basically no shock.

This leads to Kaye traveling in both the Unseelie and Seelie ("good") Courts, learning how to glamour herself, and entering into a romance with that knight she saved.  All within like two days. nd there's so much crossing and double-crossing and enchanting that it's impossible to tell which side anyone is actual on (or if there are even really "sides" at all) or how they feel about each other.  And all of this is delivered in a straightforward, unamazed voice.

I had a bit of a hard time keeping up with this book. It moved very fast and crammed in a lot of information, and none of it was as well-developed as I would have liked.  Kaye's "I'm a human, no I'm a faerie, but I'm going to keep living like a human" was rather unbelievable, and none of the other characters were developed in any depth.

Thinking back, I realize that I actually had many of these same complaints about Black's White Cat.  But the Curse Workers' story was interesting enough to me that I persisted through the next two books (Red Glove and Black Heart) to finish the trilogy, which I ended up really liking.  So will I persist and read Valiant and Ironside?  At this point, I don't plan to.  I didn't think that Tithe was good enough to inspire me to keep reading, and there are plenty of other books out there that I'm anxious to get to.  To sum up, I was definitely underwhelmed by this one.

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