Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale
2016 Book Challenge: a book set in high school
by Holly Black
Okay. So this isn’t exactly set in high school, but kinda. There’s a scene at a high school, the main character and all her friends are high school age, and a big fuss is made over the main character dropping out (even though it happens before this book starts), so I’m counting it.
I picked this book up because it sounded neat. A modern faerie tale? Yes please! Plus, I had read Holly’s Spiderwick Chronicles and enjoyed them, so I figured this one was a good choice. And I was right! I enjoyed reading it, and found myself caught up in the character development and plotlines. There were a few twists, too. Some of them I saw coming, others I did not.
To be honest, when I first started reading the book I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of it. It starts (after the opening scenes, anyway) with our school-aged heroine out past the time when her grandmother thinks she should be in bed, climbing into abandoned buildings, smoking, and getting accosted by the boyfriend of her best friend. (Nothing too bad, but he makes unwanted advances.) While I will grant you that I was a prude in high school (and like it or not some of that sticks around later in life) I wasn’t sure that this kind of heroine was someone I wanted to read a whole book about. However, I’m glad I kept going. While Kaye does continue to behave consistently with the way she started the book, her actions are tempered a bit by what happens in the land of faerie and what she finds out.
Without going into spoiler territory, I will say that Kaye does some dumb things. A few of them are REALLY dumb things. Not unexpected for a teenager, but there were some things I rolled my eyes at. (Again, not unexpected for a teenager.) It was completely believable behavior, mind. I can’t say I wouldn’t have behaved similarly at her age. I also have to say that her faerie friends acted how I would expect faeries to act. (Her faerie enemies did, as well.) It was interesting to see how her human friends and family acted and reacted to the faeries, and the character interactions are what makes me curious about the rest of the series.
Is this one worth reading? Yes. It won’t be for everyone, because some people won’t be able to get past Kaye’s or her mother’s initial actions, or be able to accept faeries as something other than cute, happy, friendly beings. However, if it sounds like an interesting book and you’re okay with the more traditional take on faeries you should certainly give it a try.