Friday, May 7, 2010

Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black

Let me begin by saying Tithe has some really strong points as well as some really low points. This is perhaps why I am having difficulty writing a review.

A part of me enjoyed the story. Kaye, a sixteen-year-old girl, finds out she is really a changeling – a pixie that looks human – and is thrown into the middle of a courtly feud in this new world. But I wasn’t really interested in Kaye or most of the characters. The human characters smoke, drink, swear, shoplift and ditch school a little more than most normal kids. It was pretty impossible for me to identify with them. I felt sorry for Kaye (her mom is a transient rock star wannabe who has no interest in parenting) but by the tone of the text the reader isn’t meant to feel pity for her. Kaye’s best friend is very childish and jealous. The boys are very touchy feely with the girls. The only reason I did not dislike Kaye is because of the lack of guidance she has and the fact that she is young and trying to figure herself out. In stark contrast to the humans, Roiben, the “dark knight” faerie, is a complex character offering mystery and a better romantic figure. I liked Roiben and he was probably the only reason I kept reading.

It took about a hundred pages before I became interested in the story. I felt the text lingered too long on Kaye’s crappy human life and I was antsy to get to the faerie tale part which was good. Black doled out just enough of the good stuff to keep me reading. The text is a fast read. I would have quit otherwise. Some of the sentences just didn’t make sense. I was re-reading many, trying to get the meaning out of them without success. The “f” word set in right away but tapered off to my relief because the dialogue was just too high school for me, if that makes sense. As the story focused more on the faerie tale part, my reading experience improved. I feel Black’s writing style in Tithe is very conflicted. It seemed as though she wanted to write as Kaye in first person. I think that would have worked so much better. The third person POV was cramping Black’s style.

If you like faeires, kelpies, and pixies crossing from weird other worlds to ours, you may enjoy Tithe. If you like urban-fantasy, I suspect this text is for you. Although marked as YA, parents should be aware of the issues, most of which I mentioned earlier. Without parental guidance, I do not recommend letting very young teens read this. Like I said, I did like the story. I’ll be reading Ironside in the future with hopes that Black will have worked out the kinks.
Publisher: Simon Pulse, 2004 (originally published 2002)     Pages: 331
Rating: 2.5 Stars     Recommended Age: 16 and up                   Source: IC Public Library


  1. Hey Chelle, excellent review! I was especially interested to see what you thought of TITHE, cause I read it awhile ago and was really conflicted too. I thought it was creative and parts were interesting and well-thought out, but I don't think Black is that good of a writer, and she put too much content stuff in that wasn't necessary. I like what you had to say! :D
    have a good weekend

  2. This is totally on my TBR pile, I love the cover. I'm hoping I don't get confused reading this!

  3. This is on my pile too - thanks for the honest review. I will read it, but I won't be rushing through others to get to it. I will blog when I do read it.

  4. Thanks for the comments! I'll be interested in what you two think of Tithe when you get to it.

  5. Let me know what book you are reading for the 500-page challenge! I haven't picked mine yet!