Great story. Captivated me from start ti finish. I do find myself wishing for a more binding resolution and answer to how everything might turn out following this, both between Kaye and Roiben, and with the Seelie queen. Is there to be a sequel?
Stories about a girl who finds out she's part/all faerie and becomes enmeshed in that world are a dime a dozen now.
But Holly Black first started this trend, with the darkly glittering "Modern Faerie Tales: Tithe" -- a clever, entrancing story that brings a bit of urban grime to the faerie world without sacrificing any of its beauty. While the plot about a teen girl falling for a dangerous faerie man seems like one of many, it's the sharp jagged edges and luminous beauty that elevate it.
Kaye Fierch has spent years traveling with her mother's rock band, until one night when her mom's boyfriend/guitarist gets high and tries to stab her. So with the band newly broken up, her mom whisks her back to her grandmother's New Jersey house, where Kaye hangs out with other teens and reminisces about some "imaginary" faerie friends she had as a child.
But then she encounters Roiben, a wounded faerie knight whose life she saves -- and soon she learns that she is a changeling, who is targeted by the Unseelie Court as a sacrifice ("the sacrifice of a beautiful and talented mortal"). Now on the run with Roiben, she must deal with the faerie world's attacks on the mortal one... including her human friends.
Holly Black is one of the best urban fantasy authors writing today, mainly because her stories truly are urban fantasies -- they combine faerie glitter and ethereality with the grime, wire and subway tunnels of New York and New Jersey. She truly makes you feel as if both the faerie realm and the mortal cities are jumping out at you, rather than just popping faerie magic into suburbia.
Her writing has a dark, raw beauty, studded with moments of haunting poetry ("Moss and mud slid from its dripping flanks as the thing turned its head to regard Kaye with luminous white eyes"). And she never turns away from the uglier facets of her world -- there are hints of cruelty, madness and heartbreak, as well as the love and persistence in Kaye.
And she writes really, really good characters who run all across the board. Kaye is a very likable, heartfelt heroine -- she's initially a little fey and odd, and she has some painful growing up to do. Roiben is a rather alluring character, being all mystery, bad reputation and unearthly beauty, and you really want to see him get together with Kaye.
"Modern Faerie Tales: Tithe" is the vibrant, haunting story that spawned a thousand "I'm a faerie girl who never knew it!" knockoffs, and like many originals, it's one of the best. Delicious.