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Welcome to the realm of very scary faeries!

Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother's rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms - a struggle that could very well mean her death.

272 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2002

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About the author

Holly Black

222 books86.8k followers
Holly Black is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over thirty fantasy novels for kids and teens. She has been a finalist for an Eisner Award and the Lodestar Award, and the recipient of the Mythopoeic Award, a Nebula, and a Newbery Honor. Her books have been translated into 32 languages worldwide and adapted for film. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret library.

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5 stars
26,749 (29%)
4 stars
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3 stars
24,018 (26%)
2 stars
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1 star
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,777 reviews
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
May 16, 2020
If curiosity killed the cat, it was satisfaction that brought it back.

This is one of those rare few books that really shows me why we need a 3 1/2 star rating, and I don’t like to give 1/2 stars. This… was so fun, and a four star book for me, and also it bugged the shit out of me to the point where I texted someone to bitch about it. But… I honestly did have so much fun.

Let’s get the complaining out of the way: god, I fucking hate 2004 YA. I mean, this text has a bunch of homophobia and racism in there for “realism,” and yet somehow it still managed to sound like How No Teen Talks Ever. Everything that happens with Corny kind of pisses me off a lot. And some of how Kaye’s being biracial is introduced… rubbed me the wrong way? I can’t really figure out why. It just felt weird.


So first of all, on the good side… the fairies . The way Holly Black draws her fairy worlds and fairy characters is genuinely so imaginative, gorgeous, and… creepy. Every time I dive into one of her books, I find myself both terrified and enamored with her fairy world, and I am so okay with that.

And more importantly, this is a very thematically strong book! There’s the fantastic meta-narrative about growing up, and learning to live with how others perceive you. There is no easy fix for Kaye’s life; no box to easily fit into. She is a member of the fairy world of the human world and she can’t figure out which one is which.

Kaye, though, is a really unlikable lead. I don’t mean that she’s flawed – though she is – I mean, I actively didn’t like her at all, and I love unlikable lady leads. I found that she was one of those early YA protagonists who’s written just generic enough that she’s easy to make into a self insert.

She’s not... awful. But she’s very selfish. And not in a delicious way — in a way that’s really annoying because she keeps fucking up and the narrative doesn’t notice or criticize it.

Oh, but I will admit - I fucking love Roiben. I really hate reading YA sometimes because inevitably, if there’s some male love interest that everyone fangirls over, the female lead will be unquestionably the best character in the narrative. [I mean, to mention another Holly Black book, The Cruel Prince?? some of you just don’t appreciate Jude like you should.] But no, Roiben is so incredibly likable and compelling. It’s a cliche trope, but I adore it when characters who keep up walls fall for characters who encourage them not to do so. I absolutely loved him.

The main thing I want to say is that this is just… a really fun book. It's so short that I basically bingeread it and oh, loved it. And do you guys even understand how fucking short this book is? it's 320 pages but every page is like, in sixteen point font, and also half the size of a normal book page, and I'm honestly just confused as to how this is a full novel. This would be great for fans of any of Holly Black’s current books or anyone who just wants to read a really fun, trashy YA book with a gorgeous fairy world and a really good love interest. Hey, I liked it.

Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube⭐Look out for my review of book two and my review of book three!
Profile Image for Tomoe Hotaru.
248 reviews850 followers
May 22, 2012
Ugh. I don't know where to start with this one so I'm gonna jump right in. I didn't like it. It was all just a raging bunch of WTF?! for me. I mean, it was random. My brain hurts so this isn't going to be a very coherent review.

Before I go to my detailed ravings, it's best if I gave a brief overview of what this book was about. It's the story of Kaye, a changeling, who was put under a glamour to hide her true green-skinned self and lives with her rockstar wannabe "mother", Ellen. Her life ultimately changes when her mother was almost murdered in a pathetic, lame excuse of an attempted stabbing, and having nowhere else to go, they return to their home town.
Here, Kaye suddenly finds herself reunited with her childhood "imaginary" friends, who needs her to help them plot against the unseelie court and win the freedom of the faeries.

It was painful. It's like listening to a child with ADHD jumping from one thing to the next. Everything seemed so rushed that you don't get a single connection to the story.

First example of it popped up right there in the freaking prologue.
Frank, Stepping Razor's drummer, grabbed Lloyd's arm. Lloyd had just enough time to punch Frank in the face before other patrons tackled him and somebody called the police.
By the time the cops got there, Lloyd couldn't remember anything. He was mad as hell, though, cursing Ellen at the top of his lungs. The police drove Kaye and her mother to Lloyd's apartment and waited while Kaye packed their clothes and stuff into plastic garbage bags. Ellen was on the phone, trying to find a place for them to crash.
"Honey," Ellen said finally, "we're going to have to go to Grandma's."

So a bit of background info, that's the scene where Lloyd, the dude Kaye's mum is dating, the dude they live with -- tried to kill Kaye's mum. And that is literally the single paragraph where it is mentioned.
I don't know about you, but if my boyfriend suddenly lost his marbles and tried to kill me, I'd be in a state of hysteria. I'd be wondering what the flying fook was that all about?!? I'd be dedicating at least an extra paragraph or two to explore the psychological damage that's done me, and probably wrap things up a little smoothly.
But nope; not this. Apparently they're happy with "We're going to have to go to grandma's."
and the next scene, they're living with Nana and Kaye's off to some rave like some whacko never tried to gut her mama. http://www.smileycodes.info Like wtf is wrong with you people?!

And this sort of thing continues persistently throughout the rest of the book. I guess what I'm trying to say is the narrative came out as choppy and rushed; it was emotionally detached from the readers, like an exposition of events. This was happening, and then this, this followed by a whopping amount of this.

And this is the second reason why I simply couldn't like Tithe. I just couldn't relate - or even respect - any of them.

I'm sorry, Black, was I supposed to root for Kaye and her friends? Was I supposed to care ??

So here's the thing. Black was trying to make it seem like Grandma was the annoying, self-righteous, imposing old woman butting into her daughter & grand-daughter's business; and we were supposed to hate her. For shame, Granny, you should know that school is for wussies and you don't need an education for a decent future. Look at your own daughter Ellen! You tried to bring her up with your strict rules and educayshen but she turned out some groupie whore/rockstar wannabe ... better let HER make the decisions for Kaye; she is, after all, her mother. And mother knows best, right? Right??

Also, the depiction of these ... urban (?) teens really frustrated me. It seems that all they do is get stoned, drink, rave, oh and shoplift. And yes I am aware that some people do do this nonstop and burn their pretty little brain cells away, but if you want to make characters with these traits and no redeeming qualities whatsoever, please don't expect me to care about them.

Oh and what's with the lack of parental figures in YA? Alright, in this case, what's with the lack of *significant* parental figure? It's like the author wrote Ellen that way just so she conveniently butts out of her daughter's business and doesn't get in the way of her adventure.

Kaye shook her head. It was kind of stupid to think that her mother would just give up on going back to the city, but she couldn't help hoping. "Tell Grandma I won't be home late."
"You come home when you want. I'm your mother."

http://www.smileycodes.info ....yes, yes you are.

So she comes home at like, three in the morning and all's dandy at breakfast the next day. Man am I glad *my* parents weren't that lenient and actually cared if I came home raped or not.

((sidenote)) I don't understand why Kaye was made half-Japanese? Is this somehow relevant in the next installments? --cuz it dang well wasn't in this one! --or is it just some odd otaku homage?

This is the problem with most YAs. I just don't see how these two characters could fall for each other - especially in such short amount of time. Kaye saw Roiben once and fell instantaneously in love with his ... hair? I have no idea. By the way, she met him, bleeding in the woods and her first sentence was "You're a fairie, aren't you?"

...and what if I am?

...and what if I am?

I also don't know what Roiben sees in Kaye. Apparently she's "Kind, lovely and terribly, terribly brave." I'm not sure about the kind part, just read over the times she lets her best friend's boyfriend feel her up (twice!), get caught, and just run away (both times!) without bothering to see if her "bff" was fine or not.[image error]

I'm going to go now because everything's a jumble in my head and I have no idea how to put it in a coherent structure. Final word is, I will not be reading the sequels.

you can also find reviews at my blog
Profile Image for Shannon.
402 reviews74 followers
June 27, 2019
Read #4? probably
Started on June 4, 2019
Finished on June 5, 2019

“If you would help me, draw this arrow." His eyes narrowed, and he shook his head. "If not, then push it in as deep as you can and hope it kills me.”

Still a hoe for Kaye and Roiben and I'm not sorry about it

(This masterpiece made me do a re-read. My eyes will never be the same. Petition for more Kaye/Roiben fanart)



I'm going to be up front... this series? You will either love it or hate it. Personally, I absolutely love gritty real-life/fantasy stories when they're written well, and I think Holly Black does the combination so much freaking justice. It doesn't try too hard to be overly badass. Kaye is such a great lead -- although I don't always see myself in her actions throughout the book, I still liked her because she was real. I never got the sense that Holly Black was trying to impress me; she was just writing about a real girl. And honestly, when I compare female leads in other books, I always think about Kaye and if they live up to her standards (which is not often enough for me).

So many people cut down Tithe for its "objectionable" content, but I was actually able to find a lot of realism in the way most of the characters behaved. As I was growing up, the teenagers I knew cursed like sailors and were always trading stories about sex. Unfortunately or not, it's a way of life nowadays -- teenagers are naturally curious. I think in this case, Holly Black's choice to include these situations and words make her characters come alive. However, that's not all Tithe is about -- people want to focus on that, but it's only a small portion of the entire book. Tithe is different, and some people just don't enjoy or understand how YA can fit that profile. But that's the one thing I appreciate about Holly Black: her ability to take YA to another level. She proves that the genre doesn't have to be a complete trope-fest with beginnings and ends that fit together perfectly.

For me, Holly Black's writing in Tithe is really hard to pin down. It's like a combination of trippy and poetic. The way she describes things, you feel like you're reading poetry -- I love the detail she pours into Tithe. I think my favorite sections have to be when she describes the faeries and where they live -- she makes it all gothic-y and enchanting and it just makes me feel like I have a spell cast over me that forces me to be in this complete daze. I can't get out of it if I wanted to. I just keep reading every sentence she writes and loving them.
Profile Image for Julie Kagawa.
Author 115 books24.7k followers
May 29, 2009
Tithe is a very raw, very dark faerie tale. While not suitable for younger readers (lots of swearing, random torture and violence, and mature themes), I loved its take on the darker side of faerie. It deals with faerie themes like Changelings and the knowing of one's True Name very well, and Roiben is probably my favorite faery hero of all time. (Kind of like Sephiroth. If you know who Sephiroth is, you'll understand.)

The writing was a teensy bit sporadic and hard to follow at first. I found myself going back and re-reading passages to understand them. All-in-all, though, a great story for older, more mature audiences. By the time I got to its sequel, Ironside, I was hooked on Holly Black.
Profile Image for toointofiction.
193 reviews152 followers
December 30, 2022
"Nevertheless, he found himself no longer wanting to punish her for her faith in him. Instead, he found himself wanting to be worthy of it. He wanted to be the knight he had once been. Just for a moment."

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐,5

This review may contain minor spoilers

⚠️Trigger Warning: Coarse language (I only mention it because this series is YA), violence⚠️

To be perfectly honest, I expected just a little better. I was really excited to read this, I mean The Folk of the Air was A MASTERPIECE!!!!! It wasn't as good as I thought it'd be, but I still enjoyed it. And I can't wait for The Stolen Heir AAAAAAAAAH!!! I need it right now!! 🤩🤩🤩🤩

I'm going to start by saying if Holly Black makes a habit of introducing all her Elfhame books with (attempted) murder then I'm aaaall for it. It grabs my attention immediately. Also, when a book starts with murder there's always a silent promise for more later on and if you're not going to have fun with a little murder then why even bother?? 😁😁 The plot was pretty solid, too. Nothing original, but still really interesting. Its execution, however, may or may not have reached slightly above mediocre. It wasn't bad. Not at all. Just a little bland. It could be a little better. One thing that surprised me was the continuous use of curse words throughout the book. I shouldn't be too surprised, kids Kaye's age (16) often talk exactly that way. I certainly did 😅😅 I did appreciate the extensive fae lore in this one. It was delivered smoothly and helped me better understand everything that happened in The Folk of the Air. It was pretty cool delving much deeper into the world of faeries and how they operated (with each other and with humans - there isn't much difference quite honestly).

I wasn't too invested in the characters either. I really liked Kaye, she was a sweet teen trainwreck, that kept making mistakes all the time and got people killed/into trouble left and right (her loved ones mostly). It was pretty hilarious, to be honest, all she had to do was know them. Jude doesn't even have a body count that high.😅😂 Roiben was rugged, sexy, another victim of Kaye's bad luck, but it's okay because he has a huuge crush on her and he's a badass so he can survive. Similar to the rest of the story, Roiben and Kaye's romance could have been a bit better. I still enjoyed it, they shared a lot of cute scenes together. Roiben is quite the sweet talker for a brooding knight and Kaye is crazy impulsive. So you can bet there were several sweet (and sometimes awkward 😅) kissing scenes.

As for the other characters, despite not feeling particularly connected to any of them, I did like some of them. Two to be precise. Corny, Kaye's human friend and google searcher for when she discovered she's actually a fae pixie. I didn't care much about him at first, but I soon grew to love him which means he was well written. HB still got it. Thankfully. He is deeply loyal to Kaye (even though she's been a pretty bad friend 😅😅) and he's been through some serious shit in this book. He was horrendously humiliated by the fae. I'm glad Jude scared those assholes straight. They deserved it. That was some intense character development on his part. I can't wait to see that means for him in Ironside. The other one is Lutie-loo. You can tell by her name alone that she's adorable and the best character in the entire book. She's a tiny little fae fiercely loyal and brave, and I would just love it if I could keep her in my pocket forever 😍😍😍 She's is without a doubt my favourite character in the entirety of Tithe. She carried the book at times.

It's true, I love Jurdan much much more. They are love. They are life. But this wasn't bad either. I would still recommend it.
Profile Image for ✨ A ✨ .
427 reviews1,716 followers
October 4, 2019
I was not expecting to be blown away by this and gosh am I so glad I kept my expectations low.

The main reason I read these books is because I absolutely loved The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King. And since I don't know what to do with myself while I wait for The Queen of Nothing I decided to get to know more about the other faerie courts which is set in the same world as TCP.

Kaye thought that she was just an ordinary girl. When one day her friend mistakenly enters a faerie realm, things change for her. She discovers that she is not an ordinary, but one of the lesser faeries. A pixie to be exact. Her whole life has been a lie. And Kaye wants to know exactly how she came to live in the human realm disguised as a human without knowing her true nature.

The first half of Tithe was not very interesting. It was absolutely boring to be honest. But when (gorgeous) Roiben came into the picture I became more invested (*wink*). If it wasn't for Roiben I might have DNF-ed this, he made it worthwhile.
If you think the only reason I'm reading this book is because it's set in the same world as The Cruel Prince then you are absolutely... CORRECT. *ding! ding! ding!*
Profile Image for Eliza.
594 reviews1,374 followers
April 26, 2018
1 / 5

There’s no way I’m going to write an entire review for this. Nope. I'm just proud I managed to skim and not give up entirely; that's an achievement on its own.

Let me sum this book up for you: Imagine a story filled with only unlikeable/trashy characters (there wasn’t a single person or thing I liked—I swear, everything was terrible), a nonexistent/poor plot, cliche male jerks that are accepted because they’re (of course) “extremely attractive," etc., and all of that tied in with choppy/childish writing. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

...yeah, no.

Honestly, save your time and read The Cruel Prince by Holly Black—it’s infinitely better than this. I’m still shocked the two books are written by the same person; but I guess that’s proof that writing is a craft that can be improved over time.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,659 reviews5,138 followers
May 29, 2018
Holly Black’s writing was my first introduction to fae fiction; as a kid, I was obsessed with all sorts of fae mythology, but typically was limited to nonfiction until the first time I saw Tithe on the “new” shelf at my library. I must have checked this book out and reread it four or five times within the first couple of years, but this was my first reread since I was a preteen, and I had no idea what to expect!

If curiosity killed the cat, it was satisfaction that brought it back.

I had forgotten so much of the plot in this book, and the first thing that surprised me upon rereading it was actually how problematic some of the writing is! If you’re a newer fan of Holly’s and haven’t read her old work, here’s your warning: this book involves racist remarks, homophobic slurs, attempted sexual assault, and some potentially sleazy romance dynamics, most of this going entirely unchallenged as the story unfolds. After one character tries to assault the protagonist, there are even one or two instances in which she talks about feeling flattered by his refusal to take “no” for an answer.

“And if I said nothing at all?”
“Then I would point out that sometimes, if you look at something out of the corner of your eye, you can see right through glamour.”

On a more positive note, I had also forgotten how totally addicting the storyline is, how fun and gothic the aesthetic feels, and how lovable Roiben is. While I stand by the fact that the blossoming romance has potential to be problematic, it genuinely doesn’t feel as though Kaye is taking advantage of him with her power over his name. Everything comes across as fully consensual, albeit quite a bit rushed and insta-lovey.

“I am your servant,” the King of the Unseelie Court said, his lips a moment from her own. “Consider it done.”

More than anything, though, I just love the way Holly crafts her fae worlds. Unlike most of today’s popular fae writers, she stays true to the old folklore in many prominent fashions, and my favorite aspect of that is the way she weaves in different types of feyfolk (like sprites, pixies, kelpies, etc.). I have always said that I think Holly is almost singlehandedly responsible for the world of fae YA fiction that so many of us now know and love, and after reading Tithe, despite its imperfections, I adamantly stand by that belief.
Profile Image for Avery (Taylor's version).
203 reviews286 followers
December 2, 2022
“She loves the serene brutality of the ocean, loves the electric power she felt with each breath of wet, briny air.”

DNF 50%

I shouldn't have gone in expecting this to be as good as The Cruel Prince. Because this was definitely not as good as The Cruel Prince.

I think what made me excited about this was the short story at the end of The Cruel Prince that was in Kaye's perspective and I loved her and Roiben's relationship, but oh my gosh, this was so boring. I have been reading this book for two weeks, and based on that number, I just decided that there was no way I was going to be able to finish it.

There were many things I didn't like about this book, and honestly, I shouldn't have gone into this with such high expectations.

“If curiosity killed the cat, it was satisfaction that brought it back.”

I think one reason I didn't like it was because I wasn't paying attention at one point, and I completely lost the plot. I was skimming, and I had no idea what was happening anymore, and I had no desire to just scroll back and find out what was happening.

Overall, the plot was also just...confusing. Even when I was paying attention, I had no idea what was happening. Everything was moving so fast that I was confused as to why stuff was happening, since it was so early in her discovering what she is, and then suddenly she's able to transform into it. Maybe it was explained, maybe not, but again, I had no intention in going back and trying to find where everything was explained. The writing was rushed and confusing, and the info-dumping was really bad in the beginning.

“Crippled things are always more beautiful. It's the flaw that brings out beauty.”

The characters are.....meh. They are nothing compared to the characters in The Cruel Prince. Kaye wasn't that likable, I don't know why. She just rubbed me off the wrong way. She didn't have that much personality, just kind of...bland I guess. She just smokes, goes to parties or clubs or whatever. Also, she literally let her best friend's boyfriend kiss her. TWICE. Maybe she gets better, I don't know because I don't want to read the next book.

I did rather like Roiben though. Because of course I do. Rude and cocky faeries are my weakness. There's just something about him that I love. But Cardan is better. So much better. Roiben doesn't even make my list of book boyfriends. I just enjoy his character more than Kaye.

The side characters have done nothing for me, and I do like their personalities kind of, but I don't care for them at all.

“You can break a thing, but you cannot always guide it afterward into the shape you want.”

The romance made no sense. It was very instantaneous, like she met Roiben ONCE and Kaye called him the most "cool dangerous amazing storybook character ever" girl be for real, you've spoken to him literally once.

It was just nothing compared to The Cruel Prince, as I said. I thought this was going to turn into an enemies to lovers at one point because Kaye and Roiben were arguing and seemed to dislike each other but I highly doubt that stayed. Also this book was really short, meaning they formed a relationship in a little over 300 pages, which isn't a lot of time. Unless there's like a skip between months, but that doesn't really add anything to it, because that just means the reader doesn't get a lot of time to see the relationship develop.

I'm just going to stick to that little fantasy bubble I had while reading the short story from The Cruel Prince where I liked Kaye and Roiben's relationship.

But anywho, this review may or may not make much sense, but here were my thoughts on this book. I recommend to just read The Cruel Prince, which is a million times better than this one.

2 stars

“Kiss my ass Rath Roiben Rye”

And he did. I mean, it was her hip. At least I think it was. I don't want to think about it.

I give up.

Mini rtc

The classic fae book! Considering how much I OBSESS over The Folk of the Air, I hope this will be equally as enjoyable, but literally nothing can beat Jurdan. Nothing.
14 reviews
June 24, 2008
If I could have given it 0 stars I would have. To publish this as a young adult novel is horrifying. I wouldn't read past 30 pages it was too offensive and to think it was published as content for young adults is terrible. It would be R rated as a movie. Not only was the f word used liberally throughout the few pages I read, teens were drinking, smoking and hinting at being sexually active. NOT something I would want my kids to read, or myself. I normally wouldn't dream of rating a book without reading more of it, but I was so appalled by what I read I couldn't go any further in the story. I just don't want to subject myself to that kind of trash posing as literature.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,460 reviews8,563 followers
November 22, 2010
"Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale" is about sixteen year old Kaye Fierch, a girl who has been moving around with her single mother for her entire life. At a young age she has been able to see and interact with these things called faeries, although no one believed her. Then one day, she enchants a boy into falling in love with her and makes a broken, splintered horse move. Soon after that event she meets a young faerie night named Roiben, and that is just the start of her faerie adventure.

Hm... okay, the reason I picked up this book was because I heard that it had a gay side character. On that note, this character, Corny, was absolutely underdeveloped. In fact, almost all of the side characters were underdeveloped, I felt like I didn't know a single thing about any of them. This book also feels like it moves from event to event, but not with the grace or ability that a good author has to string her storyline together.

There were some scenes that were just plain difficult to read. Some examples are when Kaye told Robien to "kiss her ass", and Robien actually did because he was "bound" to her. If Robien was bound to do what Kaye demanded of him, then I think Robien would've understood that what Kaye demanded of him wasn't the literal sense of what she said, but the emotional sense. Also, there was a scene where Corny is in the underground faerie hill with this strange prince character, and then Corny is tortured. Like, he is completely helpless and starts eating everything he can get his hands on. A rotten apple. The dirt on the ground. And some ants. For Pete's sake, when I read that, I thought I was going to be sick. And what's even weirder is that NO ONE even CARED about what happened to him. In fact, the only thing in the book that acknowledges that the event occurred is when Corny starts blindly stabbing his tormentor to death. Which was a total "huh?" moment to me.

This is the first book I have deemed worthy of one star. Totally disappointing.
Profile Image for ✨faith✨trust✨pixiedust✨.
398 reviews364 followers
March 7, 2020
I wasn’t originally planning on rating this, since I was reading off the omnibus edition released somewhat recently. But oh my goodness, that version changed so much! I’ll go more into that when I review the edition as a whole, but suffice it to say that there was some serious editing that happened between this original version and the combined copy. It’s not just an omnibus, it’s a veritable rewrite.

That said, this was sort of hard to rate even on its own merits. It felt very much like something that I would have been in love with had I read it when I was 13 and utterly obsessed with all things fae. I used to read creepy stories from the 1800s about changelings for fun. And this definitely had those creepy faeries I so craved. I also really liked how the characters were kind of all awful people as that was a great element to add to the intended realism of the story. People are multidimensional and sometimes they’re not rainbows and sunshine all the time. Sometimes a mean protagonist works (I’m looking at you, rewritten Corny 👀)

Now, simply having some degree of depth didn’t save this book. It suffered from a truly dreadful plot that was consistently confusing. There were very few clear transitions, so I often had no idea what was even happening and when it occurred. And from what I did understand, this had nothing to say. It was largely pointless. It dallied with some themes but didn’t stick with them in any meaningful way. I find Black’s work tends to do this often. I’ve never read something by her that had anything to it. It’s all aesthetic for aesthetic’s sake, which is fine, I guess, but undeniably boring after a while.

Though I will say, she’s the only urban fantasy author who doesn’t irk me with unnecessary real world insertion. She lets the fantasy feel plausible enough on its own without making grand claims about how Harry Houdini was a demigod 😒🙄 One way to break reality is to bring up reality, and she didn’t do that. She just wrote a world like our own and put spooky faeries in it. So good job, I guess!
Profile Image for Beatriz.
831 reviews706 followers
January 26, 2021
La verdad tenía altas expectativas con este libro, las que sólo se vieron cumplidas en el último tercio, en que la acción y el argumento van in crescendo hasta un final que, para mí, fue absolutamente satisfactorio. En retrospectiva, lo que se narra en las dos primeras partes era necesario para el desenlace, pero el estilo no atrapa, incluso es un poco aburrido. Afortunadamente la lectura es simple y rápida, por lo que tampoco alcanza a molestar tanto.

El Tributo es una fantasía urbana que incorpora un mundo de hadas y seres mágicos del tipo que presenta Cassandra Clare en su serie Cazadores de Sombras. De hecho encontré muchas similitudes en lo que se refiere a las Cortes de las Hadas. Eso sí, con descripciones bastante más chocantes, lo que es un poco contradictorio con las medias tintas con que se aborda la relación de los dos personajes principales. Es decir, el libro es suficientemente adulto como para presentar torturas bastante sangrientas, pero lo suficientemente juvenil para que la pareja no se dé más que un casto beso. Peeero, en fin, pasé un muy buen rato en la última parte, por la cual vale la pena leerse todo el libro.

Reto #29 PopSugar 2018: Un libro acerca de o ambientado en Halloween
Profile Image for chan ☆.
1,051 reviews49.1k followers
August 28, 2018
“What’s next on the faerie agenda?”
“I get sacrificed, I guess.”
“Great. When is that?”

oh, holly black. you never cease to make me laugh, gasp, and shake my head. this book was no exception, and for a debut novel (WRITTEN IN 2002!!!) no less.

book follows a girl named kaye who has always thought the world had a little magic. after moving back to her hometown and saving an injured fae knight, she figures out that she's right. she also discovers there might be a little more to her personal history than she thought & she is grappling with this while trying to avoid being used as a human sacrifice.

heavy stuff. sort of. the atmosphere of this book is unlike that of the cruel prince. it's almost a complete reversal: instead of a human growing up in a fae you have a non-human growing up in the human world. and i think that's why this was a little bit bumpy.

almost half of the book is spent in the real world while kaye is dealing with her shitty mom, and some random side characters. i know it's meant to slowly introduce magic back into kaye's world but it sort of bored me.

thankfully the characters and their relationships made up for that. the vibes that i got from kaye & roiben (aforementioned fae knight) were very jude and cardan-esque. not quite the same enemies to lovers relationship but i was seriously DYING for them to hook up. which was just as i remembered from my read of this in middle school. lol.

i'm giving this 3 stars because it felt nostalgic and for the time it was written it was insanely inventive and dark. but the plot was a little confusing and wrapped up a little too neatly at the end for my taste. i think this just shows how much holly has grown as an author. and i'm still going to read the other 2 books. i'm trash for angst.
June 8, 2022
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3 ½ stars (rounded up because of nostalgia)

“It was one thing to believe in faeries; it was totally another thing if you weren’t allowed to even have a choice about it. If they could just walk into your normal life, then they were a part of normal life, and she could no longer separate the unreal world from the real one.”

Holly Black writes the best modern faeries tales.
First published in 2002 Tithe is Holly Black's debut novel. While Black's storytelling has certainly come a long way since her Modern Faerie Tales days, I have a soft spot for this series. I first read Tithe back in 2007 when I was 11 and it completely blew my mind. While I now recognize that its plot, language, and secondary characters could have been more complex, I still find that it makes for an engrossing read. Black has definitely honed her writing skills since writing this, and if we compare Tithe to her Folk of the Air trilogy, well it does seem a bit less ‘sophisticated'...but maybe that's the reason why I like it so much. It has this late 90s/early 2000s grunge aesthetic that works really well with the faerie world Black has created. Black's faeries are beautiful, cunning, and cruel, not to be messed with, and her lead character, Kaye, is delightfully gritty.

The narrative is fairly fast-paced. After spending the last years on the road, sixteen-year-old Kaye and her mum, who is in a punk-rock band, return to her grandmother's home in New Jersey. Here Kaye reconnects with her childhood BFF Janet and, not fully aware of what she's doing, ends up casting a spell on her boyfriend. Freaked out by her own actions Kaye runs off and finds herself coming face-to-face with Roiben, a wounded faerie knight.
Kaye becomes embroiled in the ongoing feud between the Seelie and the Unseelie court. Turns out that her childhood friends, Lutie-Loo, Spike, and Gristle, are not ‘imaginary friends' after all and they are now in need of her help.
In addition to Kaye, we also follow Corny, Janet's older brother, who is gay and a bit of an outsider. He and Kaye team up but soon learn first-hand how dangerous and brutal the faerie world can be.

“Whatever has been done to me, whatever I have done… as surely as blood soaks my hands, and it does, the stain of it touches even the hems of the Queen of Elfland.”

I had a lot of fun re-reading this. The narrative goes for this ‘edgy' tone that for some bizarre reason I found to be strangely endearing. I liked the friendship between Kaye and Corny, and I also appreciated how flawed Black's characters are (there is a tendency in ya to make female leads into shy/book-loving/not-like-other-girls type of characters). While the romance does have a vague hint of insta-love, Kaye and Roiben certainly have chemistry and their interactions are charged with ambivalence.
While Black's prose here isn't quite as gorgeous or refined as the one from her later works—she uses the dreaded “She let go a breath she didn’t even know she’d been holding” phrase—Tithe still holds up. We have some truly lush and tantalising descriptions of the faeries and their revels, as well as some bewitching scenes that really showcase Black's knowledge of faerie tales. The riddles populating this narrative are ingenious, the court dynamics and shenanigans are intriguing, and Kaye's arc was certainly compelling.
If you are a fan of Black’s newest series and you are in the mood for something a quick urban fantasy read, well, you may want to give Tithe a shot.
Profile Image for Tessa Nadir.
Author 3 books239 followers
May 19, 2023
Pe scurt: 'Twilight wannabe' dar nu cu vampiri ci cu... elfi!
Pe lung: Inca de pe coperta suntem avertizati ca "fanii seriei Twilight vor iubi aceasta carte". Adica li se pare normal din punct de vedere al marketingului sa spere ca daca prima a avut succes atunci si acesta va avea, mergand pe urmele unui... 'clasic'.
In subtitlu ni se zice ca este vorba despre un basm modern. Mai apoi pe coperta avem un om fluture si nu inteleg de ce, pentru ca eu stiam ca elfii sunt niste spiridusi cu urechi lungi si chiar si in carte ni se confirma acest lucru. Si atunci ce sens are fluturele sau molia?...
In ceea ce priveste actiunea, o avem in prim plan pe Kaye Fierch, o asiatica blonda de 16 ani care are 3 prieteni imaginari (da ati citit bine!) si calatoreste din oras in oras cu trupa rock a mamei ei. Cele doua traiesc o viata dezlanata si neavand unde sa locuiasca se intorc in orasul copilariei ei, New Jersey.
Intr-o zi Kaye intalneste in padure un elf, care fiind ranit are nevoie de ajutorul ei. Ea il salveaza si acesta ii spune ca este Roiben din Curtea Malefica. Kaye descopera ca acest Roiben este cel care l-a omorat pe unul dintre prietenii ei imaginari (da, din nou ati citit bine!) si din acel moment este prinsa in lupta dintre cele doua regate ale elfilor: Curtea Benefica si Curtea Malefica. Ba mai mult, Kaye descopera ca ea insasi e elfa si ca cei malefici vor sa o sacrifice.
Daca ati rezistat pana aici si n-ati murit de ras atunci sa discutam putin despre roman si personajele sale. Consider ca trebuie sa ai mult talent sa aduni intr-un singur loc atatia 'no-liferi' ca in aceasta carte. Romanul nu are personaje placute, ba dimpotriva, toti sunt dezagreabili. Toti vor doar sa bea, fumeze, sa se drogheze si sa nu faca nimic altceva. Un nivel de depravare ca la aceste personaje este rarisim de intalnit. Mama personajului principal bea de stinge de fata cu ea, ii cere ei tigari si cele doua fumeaza cot la cot. Iata ce crede Kaye despre aceasta: "Mama ei se apleaca spre ea, mirosul de whisky, bere si transpiratie fiindu-i mai familiare lui Kaye decat orice alt parfum."
In ceea ce o priveste pe protagonista, mi s-a parut ca totul este in neregula cu ea:
- Doarme in patul pe care-l avea inca de la 4 ani cu picioarele stranse
- Poarta jacheta unor barbati cunoscuti ai mamei ei si cotrobaie prin buzunarele acesteia.
- Fura de la Mall (doi hamsteri printre altele)
- Asculta melodia lui Courtney Love care spune "Vreau sa fiu fata cu cei mai multi baieti"
- Se preface ca se duce la scoala ca s-o pacaleasca pe bunica sa
- Cand calatoreste nu-si tine hainele in valiza ci in saci de gunoi. Culmea, gunoiul este aruncat in locul hainelor in dulap.
- Este batuta si doborata pe jos de elful Roiben
Toate locurile unde are loc actiunea sunt murdare si saracacioase cum nici nu va puteti inchipui iar personajele sunt indolente, nepasatoare si au haine imbacsite si neglijente. Este foarte greu de gasit cineva simpatic in tot romanul, poate cu exceptia celor doi hamsteri.
Barbatii sunt caracterizati in urmatorul fel: "E un tampit. Nu face altceva decat sa stea in camera lui si sa si-o frece toata ziua. Cred ca e aproape miop."
Halucinant, in tot acest talmes-balmes am gasit si un citat de la Oscar Wilde, despre tigari evident, ceea ce aproape arata ca nu este totul pierdut.
De obicei citesc cu entuziasm cartile, dar la acest roman a trebuit practic sa ma biciuiesc pentru a ma motiva sa citesc in continuare. Totusi, am ajuns doar pana la pagina 150 cand un instinct de supravietuire / auto-conservare m-a oprit. Regret daca aceasta recenzie pare a fi scrisa de o femeie nebuna, insa acesta e materialul cu care am avut de lucrat.
In incheiere am o recomandare disperata de facut: daca sunteti fani ai acestui gen si doriti sa cititi la modul cat de cat serios ramaneti la Twilight (nu credeam ca o sa zic asta vreodata). Iar daca doriti sa va distrati copios 'pe nervii vostri', atunci puteti sa incercati aceasta capodopera. :)
Profile Image for Emma.
2,435 reviews828 followers
April 13, 2018
Please don’t judge me for being a middle aged woman loving this book! I couldn’t help wishing that this kind of book had been available when I was actually within YA range, but on the other hand my inner teen is enchanted anyway! I will definitely be reading Ironside which completes this story. Apparently the middle book of the trilogy, Valiant, doesn’t really connect to either Tithe or Ironside. Recommended for faerie tale lovers!
August 12, 2022



Really. I had such a great time with this strange, darkly magical book and its characters. It was true Holly Black, even if I’ve only read two of her books before this - I loved how the plot fell perfectly into place at the end.

Yeah, not too much to say. But I am so excited to continue this series and follow its amazing characters.

Ahh. So good.

4.5/5 stars.
Profile Image for Pine tree leaf stick.
184 reviews301 followers
February 26, 2021
The plot of this book was so confusing, I can't even. I don't know if it's because I read it during the four hour drives in Newfoundland, but I was so supremely confused all the time it was not enjoyable.

And the excessive amount of swearing kind of ruined things.

There was some side plot with a random side character that I didn't like.

Did I mention the swearing?

I have nothing against swearing in books. In fact, I enjoy a bit of it. BUT THIS. NO.
It was highly annoying. Highly.

2/5 at least the cover is nice.
Profile Image for Natalie.
28 reviews2 followers
April 18, 2009
I ended up reading this book by accident. It was recommended to my 14 year old, Gini. She began the book and then brought it to me saying that she didn't feel it was appropriate for kids and that she, personally, had no interest in a heroine who consistently made such poor life choices. Well! I decided to read it to see what the deal was. This book was recommended for kids 14 and up and Gini has read books that were definitely adult reading level and she LOVES faery.

The problem with this book for Gini (and I am proud of her for it) is that the girl, Kaye, who is the main character, as well as her friends, smoke, drink, sneak around, fool around, and generally make all the choices that parents hope their children will avoid. Gini loves books and movies with really strong female characters. Ultraviolet, Alias, Charmed, Dragonlance, Bones and Sarah Connor Chronicles are some of her favorites. She just really didn't like the idea that a 16 year old who was so "messed up" and misguided would be turned into a heroine of faery. She appreciates that the best heroines have flaws to overcome but this just didn't work for her.

Now! All that that being said, I finished the book and for an adult with the grace of age and perspective, this book is a fun, light read. This poor kid who has pretty much raised herself and her mother could very well end up the same dead-end mess that her mother has but she doesn't. She discovers something very special within herself. She ends up showing a lot of character and courage. The teens dealt with in the book are not the teens that I have guided my girls to become or to identify with but those kids are out there and they have the same potential and beauty within them. It was really cool to talk to Gini about why she didn't like this character and how the character developed without requiring her to read something she objected to and without glorifying the type of kid portrayed in the book.

This is just my opinion folks so take it for what it is worth to you! I would not have this book in the hands of anyone under 16 and even at 16, my girls would probably not read this type of material if for no other reason than the frequency of the "f" word which we don't appreciate in our home, hearts or heads and the underage drinking and sexuality. But if you do have a child who wants to read it and you don't like to censor your child's reading (and I do very little of that, believe it or not - I teach them the principles and let them apply them, which Gini did very well) then this book is a good opportunity to talk about the choices the kids in the book make. Why it may or may not be a good idea for an author to portray a young person with such poor judgement as a hero or heroine (I thought it was a great idea!) and how people can turn their lives around no matter how dismal and dead-end they seem to be.
Profile Image for Juushika.
1,552 reviews163 followers
March 6, 2008
As a child, Kaye had faery friends; throughout her life, she has always been unusual. Now, following an barfight, Kaye and her would-be-rock star mother return to Kaye's childhood home. There, Kaye meets another faery, and discovers that her childhood friends really do exist and that she is far more unusual than she ever suspected. She soon falls into the middle of the power struggle between two rival faery courts, a struggle which could easily spill into the human world. Tithe is a mix of wonderful and horrible aspects: the characters are difficult to like or identify with, and the writing style is inconsistent and immature, but the plot is realistically complex (even though it ends abruptly) and the faeries are dark, enthralling, and vividly conceived (if overdrawn). I found this book at times both frustrating and wonderful, and though it has many faults, I still recommend it for its plot and atmosphere, as well as its great potential.

At the beginning of reading Tithe, the weaknesses far outweigh the strengths. Kaye, her mother, and her friends are neither likable nor identifiable—Kaye's mother is a struggling rock vocalist, Kaye is a high school drop out, Janet is a superficial teenager, Corny is an unattractive gas station attendant; everyone drinks too much and smokes too much. Maybe I just lived a sheltered life, but wouldn't have identified with any of these characters as a young adult, and I still don't now as an adult. They are not likable, nor are their flaws realistic—instead, they are exaggerated and simplistic. Along with difficult characterization, the writing style is inconsistent and immature, replete with adverbs, repeated gestures, and dull dialog and episodes. This is clearly a first novel, and accordingly it feels unfinished and unpolished. The book would have benefited from a rewrite, to tighten the language and unify the style.

But for all of these negative qualities, Tithe remains readable and exhibits some real jewels and true potential as it goes on. The plot moves just fast enough that it is not frustrating and slow enough that it is still intriguing. There are many points where the book could have ended prematurely, wrapping up the plot into a nice and neat package; Black, however, rejects these endings, instead introducing new complications to build a plot that is is political, complex, and ongoing. The unfortunate effect of the ongoing story is that the book has an indistinct ending—although not a cliffhanger, it seems arbitrary and incomplete. On the whole, however, the complex plot fits the book's wide political premise and makes for a satisfying read. The faeries are equally satisfying: they are otherworldly, diverse, and carefully imagined. Some of the dark faeries are overdrawn and excessively macabre, but on the whole the faeries are the highlight of the text. Black's imagination is lively and wide; her descriptions (in particular Kaye's transformation) shine off of the page in vivid language that is at once ethereal and tactile.

I found this to be an alternately frustrating and delightful book. The characters disappointed me, the writing style annoyed me, but whenever I became too frustrated, another new aspect would shine: a banquet scene in a faery court, a new plot development, some measure of character growth. So while I can't rate this book very highly on account of its many faults, I do recommend it. Less critical readers may not find it so frustrating as I did; no matter the reader, the magic and imagination make this a book worth reading. There is great potential here, and where it is realized, Tithe is a truly enjoyable read. I look forward to reading more of Black's published work—I expect that as she matured as a writer, her books became more readable and less frustrating.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,401 reviews11.7k followers
February 27, 2018
He slid out of bed, scratching his balls through once-white briefs, and sat down in front of the computer.

Ok, now I remember WHY I hated Holly Black's writing before finally enjoying White Cat. Too much grossness! That's why. Everything is in Tithe is disgusting and grimy (except for the love interest, thank goodness for that!) - if it's nail polish - it's chipped, if it's bed linen - it's dirty, if it's hair - it's greasy. Yuck! Apparently I am more used to the gross now, because this time I liked Tithe. If not for the insta-love, I would have liked it more. Glad Black moved on to better things and abandoned this overblown grunginess.
Profile Image for Carol.
726 reviews40 followers
August 22, 2021
After loving the cruel prince as much as I did, I was scared this book wasn't going to live up to my expectation. I'm happy to report it did, and I love it, so glad I bought the boxset

This book is about Kaye a teenage girl who lives with her mother and grandmother in her grandmother's house. Kaye appers to be like any normal teenager, at first, but as the story unfolds I soon realise she is anything but normal.

I really enjoyed this I don't know if I would call it fast past exactly but it is definitely interesting and I wasn't waiting long till I was completely swept up in the story and loving every page.
Profile Image for Noura Khalid (theperksofbeingnoura).
505 reviews731 followers
February 7, 2020
I first discovered Holly Black's books when I read The Cruel Prince. I loved it so much I made it a goal to read all her books, and this one was next on my list. The first thing I thought when I read this was that I loved how strange it was!

Despite the book being strange you can literally read these in one sitting. The story is addicting and everything just happens so quickly that you don't even realize that you've finished the book until you've closed the book. The Fae world is wicked as always and I love how classic the Fae narrative is. Holly Black sticks to myth and all the Fae stories you usually read about. I honestly wish I had read these books when I was a teenager. I feel like it would have fit the vibe I was in back then a lot more. Roiben is a complete sweetheart I honestly loved him. And following Kaye's story was so twisted and strange but I enjoyed every minute of this. There were obviously some problematic aspects (which I can't quite remember now since this review is long overdue) but most of the books back then did.
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