Review: Tithe | Holly Black

This review is spoiler free.

283495 “You can break a thing, but you cannot always guide it afterward into the shape you want.” 

Series: Modern Faerie Tales
Published: 2003. by Simon and Schuster.
Pages: 331
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Fairies 
Contains: Violence, Strong Language, Torture, Blood/Gore, Death, Alcohol

‘Tithe’ tells the story of Kaye, a fierce and independent sixteen-year-old. She travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces her back to her childhood home. There, she finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two faerie kingdoms. 

I didn’t set my expectations too high for this read, managing to acquire the entire trilogy cheaply. However, Holly Black’s name has been engraved into all YA readers minds these past few years so I thought I’d give it a try. And yet, I still ended up being disappointed.  

This read was incredibly difficult for me, not really knowing how to review such a novel. There was quite a few flaws, ones which I couldn’t simply overlook and has left me feeling quite unfulfilled.
Kaye is a difficult protagonist, one which I’m not entirely sure how we should be feeling about. I couldn’t bring myself to root for her, no matter how many times she found herself in trouble. She was complex, selfish and reckless, yet also had the occasional soft moment. It left me feeling quite confused on numerous occasions, you just never knew what to think about her.
The secondary characters were all quite similar, none of those within the book being likeable enough to care about the difficulties they were facing. They all seemed to be extremely unlikable and intimidatingly reckless, making you hardly care for their lives. Corny was a difficult character to understand, finding him charming and intimidating at the same time, whilst Janet simply seemed like a terrible friend and person in general. How could you call these heroes of the tale?

Personally, I found the story itself extremely difficult to follow, resorting to skim reading and page jumping to plough through the pages of choppy narrative and lack of explanation. As someone who’s unfamiliar with faeries in fiction, I needed more description to comprehend the world-building, yet that was what this novel was severely lacking.

Overall, I desperately wanted to love this story, feeling as if Black’s older works would have provided me with the same amount of joy as her newer ones. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and I was left confused and disappointed.



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