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Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerieby Holly Black
Synopses & Reviews
When seventeen-year-old Valerie Russell runs away to New York City, she's trying to escape a life that has utterly betrayed her. Sporting a new identity, she takes up with a gang of squatters who live in the city's labyrinthine subway system.
But there's something eerily beguiling about Val's new friends. Impulsive Lolli talks of monsters in the subway tunnels they call home and shoots up a shimmery amber-colored powder that makes the shadows around her dance. Severe Luis claims he can make deals with creatures that no one else can see. And then there's Luis's brother, timid and sensitive Dave, who makes the mistake of letting Val tag along as he makes a delivery to a woman who turns out to have goat hooves instead of feet.
When a bewildered Val allows Lolli to talk her into tracking down the hidden lair of the creature for whom Luis and Dave have been dealing, Val finds herself bound into service by a troll named Ravus. He is as hideous as he is honorable. And as Val grows to know him, she finds herself torn between her affection for an honorable monster and her fear of what her new friends are becoming.
Bestselling author Holly Black follows her breakout debut, Tithe, with a rich, harrowing, and compulsively readable parable of betrayal, abuse, friendship, and love.
"When 17-year-old Valerie Russell finds her boyfriend having sex with her mother, she splits Jersey for Manhattan, takes in a Rangers game and falls in with some creepy homeless teens who live on an abandoned subway platform. They survive by rooting through trash, and shoot up to take the edge off their urine-scented, rat-infested existence. It isn't until Val realizes that they're shooting up faerie drugs that this unevenly paced companion to Black's debut novel, Tithe, takes off. Val joins her fellow squatters as a courier for the faerie healer Ravus, a troll who, in a Beauty-and-the-Beast-inspired twist, becomes Val's romantic interest while turning her skills with a lacrosse stick into prowess with a sword. But Val succumbs to addiction, siphoning Ravus's potion for personal thrills. When she finds one of the troll's customers (a mermaid) murdered, she gets caught in the internecine politics of rival faerie courts. Black draws on a grab bag of fairy and folk motifs to create a labyrinthine plot with a decidedly dark edge in a narrative rife with expletives. Val, though sympathetic, is not as memorable as Tithe's Kaye, and that book's fans may miss the trips into the enchanted faerie world. The squatters' actions spiral inexorably toward a death, but the victim turns out to be a cop-in a horrifying incident that is never mentioned again. The climax connects with the plot of Black's first novel, and fans of Tithe will probably stick with the long build-up to get to the exciting finish. Ages 14-up. " Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"As in...Tithe, the plot matters far less than the exotic, sexy undercurrents...the deliciously overripe writing, and the intoxicating, urban-gothic setting..." Booklist
"Val's story, while not the best of the genre, makes for a compelling, edgy read complete with faerie murders and shaven-headed heroines." Kirkus Reviews
"This dark fantasy includes drug use and strong language, but beneath its darkness readers find well-rendered characters, a gripping plot, and pure magic." School Library Journal
"[A] narrative by turns eloquent and crude, ethereal and gritty, a book that tempers childhood fairy tales with dysfunctional family issues, teen sex and substance abuse." Children's Literature
The New York Times bestselling author follows up her stunning debut Tithe with this rich, harrowing, and compulsively readable parable of betrayal, abuse, friendship, and love. In New York City, 17-year-old runaway Valerie Russell takes up with a gang of eerily beguiling squatters who live in the city's subway system.
About the Author
Holly Black's first book, Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale, was published in Fall 2002 to stellar reviews. She lives in West Long Branch, New Jersey, with her husband, Theo. Visit Holly on the World Wide Web at www.blackholly.com.
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