book review: tithe

Another one for my SFF and YA class, Holly Black’s Tithe started off well, but I liked it less as it went on.

Kaye is a fifteen year old girl who’s kind of weird and when her mother’s boyfriend tries to kill her mom in a bar, Kaye and her mom move back to the Jersey shore where Kaye grew up. She meets a mysterious gothic stranger in the woods/beside the turnpike and helps him and then things keep moving, getting Kaye further and further involved in the hidden Faery world.

What I liked about the book was its lack of a “meet the fae” kind of episode. Kaye’d always talked to faery as a kid, so she kind of knew stuff about them without having to have it explained. There wasn’t a tonne of explanation in the book. In some ways this was good because it felt more like regular life where the meanings of things aren’t expounded upon at great length, but as it went on it all felt a little shallow. At first it seems like you’re being dropped into a world and you’ll figure stuff out later, but aside from the central mystery, that never really happens. You have enough information to go on, but it doesn’t feel deep. There wasn’t a lot of mythic resonance or whatever, even in these scenes where knowing the true name of a faery is holding so much power, and the scenes in the Seelie and Unseelie Courts have been done much better in other places.

My favourite bit in the book is a gay character’s description of coming out to his family:

“Mom, you know the forbidden love Spock has for Kirk? Well, me too.”

Kaye is resourceful and figures shit out on her own, a good protagonist. There’s a bit of sexytime stuff, but nothing crazy. I mean, yes there are some kisses and longing and groping but it’s all pretty relaxed. (I obviously had a British edition, since this girl on the Jersey shore kept on saying “knickers.” Copy-editing is weird.)

The ending of the book felt rushed and there are obviously more in the series since the resolution seemed kind of trivial. I’m not sure I personally would keep reading them. I’ll gladly recommend it though.

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