3 out of 5
The old saying, “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover,” and the following, “Or the first few chapters,” was made for this book. I discovered Tithe on a GoodReads suggestion list because I enjoy both faeries, dark fiction and Urban Fantasy. It may have also been suggested by Amazon after I binged on Artemis Fowl. Either way, the 331 page book complete with twelve pages of White Cat (another Holly Black book) weren’t terrifying, the short and stout book may have even been shorter in a hard back with larger font and longer pages.
I remember the cover being what swayed my decision to buy it. What looks to be a butterfly missing a body is on the cover with green splattered font to display the title. Visually it is very pleasing, but reading it took a bit more time than I thought it’d would.
Having never read Holly Black I wasn’t sure what to expect, I haven’t read Spiderwick Chronicles and barely made it through the movie. What I did know was that Holly Black was the highly publicized “Queen of the Faeries”, so who better to read first?
My initial response to the book was that I was waiting. Waiting for the action to start, waiting for secrets to be revealed, waiting for the meat and potatoes of my book or I was waiting to get to the final page and be done with it. A move and getting settled back into my office put this book back on the shelf for two months, but when I finally committed I finished reading the book in about four days.
What I Liked!
I absolutely love the playful romance between Kaye and Roiben, it is still a very cliched as Roiben the older more experienced magical being becomes an accidental protector of the fair young Kaye. That Kaye is not helpless and at times is even rebellious makes her a more enjoyable heroin. Their relationship as it develops throughout the book was one of few thing that kept me going.
Once I got into it I was also quite intrigued by the mystery and deception of the gentry. The multitude of layers beneath the story and the plan for Kaye during the Tithe all seemed to be buried deep until the very last pages. This book is full of twists and turns and I’m happy I stayed along for the ride.
This may be a little macabre but I’m happy that SOMEONE if not several people died. My interests in fiction are a little bit darker than most, I adore a good fairy tale as long as we can muddy it up a bit, the Fae in this story are not like Tinkerbell for sure and the wickedness that comes from that usually end in bloodshed. The lives lost during the escalation of the story were necessary “sacrifices” to give the book its edge and maintain realism.
What I Didn’t Like…
It took a while for me to actually invest in the story. As a person from Philadelphia familiar with New Jersey I can say for certainty that despite a jab or two regarding my hometown the setting was perfect. However, the progression of the story din’t pull me in. I truly didn’t care for the book as whole until page 104. The book seemed to drag on in an attempt to subtly hint at the secrets and plot twists. It was almost as if Black didn’t trust the reader could pick up on the foreshadowing within the first few pages. I figured out Kaye’s brilliant secret by page 15 and spent the rest of the time wondering how long it would take for the rest of the world to find out if that was the goal. I don’t think there needs to be an 80 page gap between the inception of her “talents” and the actual declaration of them.
Spike…I didn’t like him. I applaud Black for her amazing development of her characters, no one entity was completely good or bad. For example even though Kaye was a high school drop out who smoked cigarettes and cursed, she was still brave and kind and a “good person”. The revelation that not all of those looking after Kaye were “on her side” definitely sucked me into the story and made Spike my second most hated, second only to Nephamael who was a piece of work in his own right.
*Minor note: I didn’t like that Kaye found her younger self, stuck at age 4. I’m not certain the significance of that particular scene besides adding evidence that Silarial was aware of her identity. Understanding that this is a series, I’d hope the explanation of baby Kaye could be explained or at least wonder if they plan to return her.
Overall I enjoyed the book a lot more than I thought I would, I’m officially interested in checking out Valiant and Ironside and will be adding them to my TBR list!
Have You Read Tithe by Holly Black?
What did you think? Leave a comment below!
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