Bad execution of a good idea, 1.5 stars, December 9, 2009
Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale, the first book in Holly Black's faery trilogy, introduces readers to a dark and twisted world of Faerie. Sixteen-year-old Kaye is the daughter of a rocker mom who moves from town to town before an act of violence pushes them back to New Jersey. Kaye thinks the faeries of her youth are a thing of the past, but soon, her world starts changing as she learns that she has been chosen as a sacrifice between faery courts. Kaye must struggle to save herself, her friend, and a certain faery knight.
Unfortunately, this world of Faerie is not very likeable or easy to read. First and foremost, I found the book difficult to read due to the writing style and lack of editing. The writing is unclear in many places, with disjointed sentences and weak dialogue. Transitions between scenes were abrupt, and it was sometimes difficult to gain a coherent understanding of what was happening. Though some settings were described well, the characters were not. Character development was limited, and the relationships between characters seemed weak and unimportant. As described, the love connection also didn't seem believable.
Secondly, Black's world of Faerie is dark, twisted, and cruel. I don't mind darker tales; however, there needs to be a point to it. The book contains vulgarity; smoking, alcohol, and drugs; unhealthy relationships; references to violent, hurtful sex that`s enjoyed; and grisly murder and torture. I knew some of this going in, but I was surprised that none of these issues were used as a means of character development or conflict. None of the characters seemed to have any redeeming or likeable qualities. Even if a character is flawed, I want to read a book where I want to root for him/her, despite these flaws or a sordid past. In this case, I was left feeling ambivalent towards everyone.
While a good concept with potential for a great tale, my negative reaction to this book was much stronger than I expected. I hope that Black brought her fans something better in the sequels, Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie and Ironside: A Modern Faery's Tale.