Thursday, March 26, 2009

Valiant by Holly Black

Rating 3 1/2 out of 5

When seventeen-year-old Valerie Russell runs away to New York City, she's trying to escape a life that has utterly betrayed her. Sporting a new identity, she takes up with a gang of squatters who live in the city's labyrinthine subway system. But there's something eerily beguiling about Val's new friends. Impulsive Lolli talks of monsters in the subway tunnels they call home and shoots up a shimmery amber-coloured powder that makes the shadows around her dance. Severe Luis claims he can make deals with creatures that no one else can see. And then there's Luis's brother, timid and sensitive Dave, who makes the mistake of letting Val tag along as he makes a delivery to a woman who turns out to have goat hooves instead of feet. When a bewildered Val allows Lolli to talk her into tracking down the hidden lair of the creature for whom Luis and Dave have been dealing, Val finds herself bound into service by a troll named Ravus. He is as hideous as he is honourable. And as Val grows to know him, she finds herself torn between her affection for an honourable monster and her fear of what her new friends are becoming.

Review:This is a pretty dark tale of humans and faeries interacting. Do not expect to see any Tinkerbelle’s here. Faeries are nasty, really nasty. They get pleasure out of human’s suffering and delight in torturing, killing and in some instance eating them. Though to be fair they do the same to their own as well. Val walks smack into the middle of this world completely clueless and falls deeper and deeper into trouble.

Valiant is the sequel to Tithe. It is set some time after the events of Tithe. However you do not need to read Tithe to read Valiant. Valiant is a stand alone story.
"There is only one human who knows this place. So what did Luis tell you?" The troll took another step toward them, his voice soft and furious."Did he dare you to go inside? Did he say there was a monster?"
The story touches on drug use, teenage sex, dysfunctional families, romance, loyalty and friendship. In fact there is very little Valiant does not touch on. I found the teen issues dealt with here were darker then that addressed in Tithe. However due to the “faerie” angle for some reason they were not as confronting then if this had been a normal runaway teen story. I don’t know why but for me it was not as shocking, but it still managed to
get the message across. Though having said that there was one moment for me
that did stun me but I will not mention it here so as not to spoil the book.

Holly Black has an easy style of writing that flows well. She is a good writer and was able to get her points across without me have to scrounge around for a dictionary.

If you like your faerie tales dark and edgy then you might want to consider picking up Holly Black. I am not sure why but I was reluctant to give this 4 out of 5 stars so I settled for 3 1/2.


  1. This sounds like an interesting fantasy story -- I will keep an eye out for it! By the way, I love your blog and your rating system!

  2. I only recently really became interested in the fae. I was surprised at the number of books that paint them in a dark light, but that makes it all the more interesting, I think. This sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for the great review!

  3. Especially YA novels portray them as being dark bad things.