Author: Holly Black
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Page Count: 331
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Notable Notables: POC Character, LGBTQ+ Character
Recommended Readers: Ages 14+, Lovers of Dark Themes
What a strange but enjoyable book this was. I borrowed Tithe from my roommate because I’ve been dying for a good Fae story, one where the Fae are all unbridled passions and cruel whims and outside the realms of human morality. Because that’s what Fae are supposed to be. I’ve heard Holly Black is dubbed by fans as the Faerie Queen, so I was hoping she wouldn’t disappoint me.
I’m happy to say that, by and large, she didn’t. She gave me the Seelie and Unseelie Courts in all their ethereal beauty, perverse horrors, and glorious madness. She gave me faeries that largely regard mortals as playthings to trick and lead to ruin.
The novel follows Kaye, a 16-year-old girl who keeps having to move from place to place because her mother fancies herself a rock star. After a sudden attack, Kaye returns to her childhood home in New Jersey and resumes contact with her faerie friends she once had as a child. She’s always been a weird kid, seeing things others couldn’t and imagining things into existence that shouldn’t be possible. When she stumbles upon an injured Fae knight, Roiben, and pulls an iron arrow from him, she becomes embroiled in a power struggle between the two Fae courts.
Tithe totes itself as “a modern faerie tale,” and it is. Much of it takes place in an urban city setting rather than just the lands of Faerie. Admittedly, the first third of the book threw me off specifically because of this urban setting. I have to confess, I don’t care much about reading anything about New Jersey nor about a bunch of 16-year-olds smoking, drinking, cussing at each other, and trying to be as edgy as possible. (Y’all are sixteen! Calm down, I’m laughing.) But once more faerie stuff starting happening, the easier it became to endure it.
Plus, I mean, Roiben was mighty fine. Yes, mighty fine, indeed. And the twist about Kaye I ended up liking so much more than I thought I would. It made their budding relationship all the more interesting for me, especially since it did lack some development in the beginning. Watching them work together throughout the story made up for that, though.
I also enjoyed Corny as a character, too, and was just as concerned about his journey as I was with Kaye’s. His “fling” with Nephamael was as terrible to watch as it was envious. (Hey, I love problematic ships, I can’t help it, and this was so inexplicably Fae, it scratched an itch that I needed scratched.) But that final scene with Corny and Nephamael was pure poetic justice, and I loved every second of it and Corny’s growth because of it.
I’m super excited to start the sequel. Not Valiant because I heard it doesn’t have much to do with this cast of characters, but Ironside. I want to see what other messes Kaye, Corny, and Roiben get into.