Angela's Reviews > Tithe

Tithe by Holly Black
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Dec 09, 09

bookshelves: young-adult, faeries, urban-fantasy, 1-5-stars, read-in-2009
Read in December, 2009

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.
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Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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message 1: by Cory (new) - rated it 1 star

Cory I completely agree with your review. The writing was very off putting for me, and the romance was kinda weirdish and bland.


Angela @Cory: Thank you for the compliment about my review!


I am Bastet Angela, I just reread your review with White Cat in mind.

You said this: "Character development was limited, and the relationships between characters seemed weak and unimportant. As described, the love connection also didn't seem believable."

That is, unfortunately, how I felt about White Cat. The only likable character is Cassel. Everyone around him, even the people he likes and I think we're supposed to like by extension, are relatively flat and I liked none of them except his school roommate who is in far too little of the book. I have to admit to disappointment because I didn't feel this way about the faerie books.

There is also a lot of cruelty, much of it senseless, in White Cat.

You also said, "Transitions between scenes were abrupt, and it was sometimes difficult to gain a coherent understanding of what was happening." Same thing in White Cat. I had to reread parts of the climax and the scenes leading up to the climax because I had no idea what was going on or how we got to what was going on, or why certain characters were acting the way they did.

I won't say you shouldn't try it, but I don't think you're going to find anything different.


Angela Thanks for your really complete breakdown of what you did and did not like in White Cat and how it compares to my experience with Black's other books. Based on what you've written above, I think that White Cat is going to be a definite skip for me. It sounds like much of the same, sadly. :(


message 5: by Tatiana (last edited Feb 09, 2012 10:44AM) (new)

Tatiana I am a big fan, so I am butting in to defend:)

My only argument would be this: from my experience, those readers who like Black's fairy books, dislike her curse workers books, and vice versa. So, logically, you might actually like it. That's all.


Angela @Tatiana: You may butt in anywhere you'd like. I will take your suggestion of my possible liking of the Curse Workers books under due consideration. :)


Emily May I agree with Tatiana. As someone who's tried to read all Black's series, White Cat is very different and IMO much better than the rest. I noticed you disliked the writing style in Tithe and found it unlikeable and difficult to read, this is where I feel it differs greatly from the Curse Worker series.

Also: "Character development was limited, and the relationships between characters seemed weak and unimportant" - this wasn't a problem either.

Sorry, tangent there, I meant to say I like your review :)


message 8: by Angela (last edited Feb 09, 2012 10:41AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Angela Emily wrote: "Sorry, tangent there, I meant to say I like your review :)"

Haha. Thanks for reading and for popping in to say hi and to provide some insight about your experiences with Black's books. :)


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Great review, Angela. I had trouble finishing this book. The concept and the story were really intriguing to me ((view spoiler)), but the characters broke this story for me. I'm a firm believer that characters can make or break a novel. I've read books before with very little plot, but solid, vibrant characters.

Also, (view spoiler)

However, I absolutely loved White Cat and Red Glove. Her writing style improved dramatically, as did her character development and world-building.


Angela Ace wrote: "Great review, Angela. I had trouble finishing this book. The concept and the story were really intriguing to me ([spoilers removed]), but the characters broke this story for me. I'm a firm believer..."

Thanks for the "like" on the review and for your comments, Ace. Even though I only reviewed Tithe and Valiant from Black's faerie series, I did also read the final book, Ironside. When I finished that one, I could see that Black's writing was improving and becoming more to my liking, but it's never been something that I've sought out since then.

I'm thinking that maybe I'll just have to read White Cat and see which camp I fall into. Isis is predicting a "no" on it, and you and Tatiana are predicting a "yes" response. I'm intrigued enough to read it just to see whose predictions are most accurate. :)


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I would love to see what you think of the Curse Workers. It was a completely unique story, characters, and world-building. I'm planning a reread of the first two in preparation for the release of Black Heart in a couple months.


message 12: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana Well, I am willing to bet you will at least like White Cat more than Tithe:)


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Tatiana wrote: "Well, I am willing to bet you will at least like White Cat more than Tithe:)"

Seconded :).


Kelly I remember really liking this, but it was mumblety years ago and I wonder if it would stand up to my memory of it, especially since there's so much other faerie stuff now, and there was so little back then that I gobbled up anything I could find.


message 15: by I am Bastet (last edited Feb 09, 2012 11:24AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

I am Bastet Tatiana wrote: "I am a big fan, so I am butting in to defend:)

My only argument would be this: from my experience, those readers who like Black's fairy books, dislike her curse workers books, and vice versa. So,..."


That sounds like me! So yes, Angela, by Tatiana's advice maybe you should try it! I'm chuckling to myself right now at how vastly these opinions differ from mine. I couldn't make myself care about anyone in White Cat but the main character, and I didn't understand why he cared about the people he cared about, but I adored almost everyone in the faerie novels.

I also felt like the plot of White Cat was a little bit bare. When I came to the climax, my reaction was like what I had with Graceling. Basically, "Was that it? Where's the rest?"

Now I want you to read White Cat ASAP so we can have another book discussion.

P.S. I did not think White Cat was bad. I gave it 3 stars. I thought it was good, but not great.


message 16: by Angela (last edited Feb 09, 2012 11:49AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Angela All of the peer pressure! Oh no! *cowers in corner under piles of books that also await reading*

Here's my deal with you all: if White Cat comes through as a withdrawn book in the Friends of the Library sort room (where I'm in charge of all incoming YA and children's titles), I will bring it home, read it, and then commence discussion. Until then, I'm going to pore over all the other delicious things awaiting me on my TBR list. :)


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