Tithe by Holly Black
Kaye is not your typical 16-year-old. For one thing, she’s spent the last few years of her life acting as mother to her mother: holding Mom’s head as she vomits, following Mom around to her various unsuccessful singing gigs, working in a Chinese restaurant to make enough money so that she and Mom can eat from time to time. She doesn’t attend school and she isn’t happy in the least.
For another thing, as a child she used to have a few fairies as dear friends. Not imaginary creatures: real fairies. When Mom’s boyfriend tries to knife her, Kaye and Mom return to Grandma’s, where Kaye first knew her fairy friends, and she gets a chance to reunite with them. The only problem with this happy reunion is that the fairies have come up with a plan to — well, to say they plan to sacrifice Kaye is seemingly a tad strong. But there is no question that they want their freedom from the rule of the Unseelie Cour... Read More
Holly Black(1971- )
Holly Black spent her early years in a decaying Victorian mansion where her mother fed her a steady diet of ghost stories and faerie tales. An avid collector of rare folklore volumes, spooky dolls, and crazy hats, she lives in West Long Branch, New Jersey, with her husband, Theo. Learn more at Holly Black’s website.
Modern Faerie Tales — (2002-2007) Young adult. Publisher: 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.
Tithe by Holly Black
The Poison Eaters and Other Stories by Holly Black
The first collection of short stories by author Holly Black, The Poison Eaters and Other Stories is dark, gorgeous, and emotionally compelling. Ranging from longer stories to short little character sketches, Black has created a handful of settings and characters that will live on in memory long after you close this slim volume. Holly Black manages to evoke an incredibly detailed world with a spare prose that conveys the static crackle of a remote video feed, the smell of a city bus in the summer, and the bitter taste of poison with equal clarity.
While there are no bad stories here, there are a few stand outs. “Coat of Stars” reads like a modern take on a Keats poem, with a bereaved young man encountering a fairy queen. “Ironside” is a chilling glimpse into the life of an elf who has to stay in the human lands bec... Read More
The Spiderwick Chronicles — (2003-2008) Ages 9-12. Now a major motion picture. Publisher: It all started with a mysterious letter left at a tiny bookstore for authors Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. Its closing lines: “We just want people to know about this. The stuff that has happened to us could happen to anyone.” Little could they imagine the remarkable adventure that awaited them as they followed Jared, Simon, and Mallory Grace and a strange old book into a world filled with elves, goblins, dwarves, trolls, and a fantastical menagerie of other creatures. The oddest part is in entering that world, they didn’t leave this one!
Spiderwick books are available for download at Audible.com and in boxed sets.
THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES by Holly Black
Although the book in The Spiderwick Chronicles were originally published separately (five in all), I knew it was only a matter of time before a box set was released, and so held off purchasing the separate installments so that I could invest in the complete set. I'm glad I waited, as one of the best things about this series is its beautiful presentation (the phrase "don't judge a book by its cover" has little meaning here), and this nifty box set protects and displays them to best effect. Between the attractive coverings, Tony DiTerlizzi stunning ink illustrations and even the box itself, The Spiderwick Chronicles are books that will inhabit a place of pride on any bookshelf. They really are that pretty.
But of course, the story itself must always be of paramount importance, and Holly Black has managed to craft a fast-paced... Read More
The Nixie's Song by Holly Black
After the five-part The Spiderwick Chronicles ended with a promise that there would be more to follow in the Spiderwick world, it was only a matter of time before there was another installment in the series. Now we pick up in the first book of a proposed trilogy that features a new set of children (two step-siblings) and a different location (the mangrove swamps of Florida as opposed to the old world charm of New England), but with plenty of new faerie lore incorporated into the story. As always, writer and illustrator manage to capture the essence of old faerie-lore, in which the creatures are both beautiful and dangerous, with a set of obscure rules surrounding them that need to be followed if one wishes to keep safe.
Nick Vargas is a plump eleven-year old who is not at all happy with the inclusion of a new stepmother and ... Read More
A Giant Problem by Holly Black
In A Giant Problem, the second book of the sequel/spin-off to the original The Spiderwick Chronicles, we meet up again with our two protagonists: stepsiblings Nick (surly and portly) and Laurie (dreamy and cunning), who are getting along reasonably well in the wake of their discoveries in the previous book The Nixie's Song.
Having allied themselves with the half-blind and near-senile Noseeum Jack (this book's version of wise-but-dotty Aunt Lucinda) the two are learning all they can about the awakening giants that are threatening their parents' housing development. Jack takes them giant-hunting, in the attempt to show them how to deal with the massive and destructive nature-spirits. It does not go well.
On the whole, A Giant Problem is a... Read More
The Wyrm King by Holly Black
The third and final part of Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi's collaborative effort is called The Wyrm King, following on from The Nixie's Song and A Giant Problem, part of the Beyond the Spiderwick trilogy which in turn is a sequel to the original The Spiderwick Chronicles series (why are fantasy titles so convoluted?) and which wraps up the trilogy in a satisfying, action-picked finale.
Centred on the plump eleven-year old Nick Vargas, his older brother Jules and their unwanted stepsister Laurie, the three siblings spent the better part of the last book trying to remove giants from Mr Vargas's housing development, only to find that their successful attempt to lead the giants into the ocean has only led to more troubl... Read More
Care and Feeding of Sprites by Holly Black
Since the publication of the five-part Spiderwick Chronicles there have been three "spin-off" publications: Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You (a copy of the book that featured so heavily in the Chronicles themselves), A Notebook for Fantastical Observations, designed for readers themselves to fill out, and this, Care and Feeding of Sprites. If you can only choose one of them, then the pick of the litter is undoubtedly the Field Guide, a stunning collection of illustrations and information that (in my opinion) is even better than the five books on which it is based.
But as a second choice Care and Feed... Read More
The Good Neighbors — (2008-2009) Young adult. Publisher: Rue Silver’s mother has disappeared… and her father has been arrested, suspected of killing her. But it’s not as straightforward as that. Because Rue is a faerie, like her mother was. And her father didn’t kill her mother — instead, he broke a promise to Rue’s faerie king grandfather, which caused Rue’s mother to be flung back to the faerie world. Now Rue must go to save her — and must also defeat a dark faerie that threatens our very mortal world.
Kin by Holly Black
When I first opened Kin by Holly Black, I was surprised to find it was a graphic novel. Once I started reading, I was absorbed in the story of Rue Silver, a slightly punk college student who is facing an unexpected crisis in her life. Her mother has disappeared, and her father has been arrested for her murder, and the murder of one of his grad students. And to make matters worse, Rue has started seeing people — or more precisely things — that shouldn’t be able to exist.
Kin follows Rue as she tries to find the truth behind the allegations plaguing her father, and her sudden ability to see into the realm of Faerie. Holly Black has created a main character that will resonate with the YA readers of this tale, but may seem a bit angsty to anyone who has left their college years in the rear view mirror. Graphic novels... Read More
Kith by Holly Black
Kith is the second installment in The Good Neighbors, Holly Black’s series of graphic novels about Rue, a young woman whose life is torn apart when her mother disappears. Kin, the first book in this series, traces Rue’s discovery that her mother is a fairy princess who returns to her own people when Rue’s father is unfaithful. Kith picks up the action as the fairy world fights for Rue to join her mother, and as Rue’s grandfather, Aubrey, sets into motion a plan to bring the town where Rue lives into the fairy realm forever.
Ted Naifeh’sartwork is as lovely as ever, with a dark and brooding presence that underscores the temptation that magic holds for Rue, even as she struggles to protect her friends from Aubrey and his minions. A scene where Rue tries to convince her mot... Read More
The Curse Workers — (2010-2012) Young adult. Publisher: Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’re all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn’t got the magic touch, so he’s an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago. Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen. Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love — or death — and your dreams might be more real than your memories.
White Cat by Holly Black
White Cat, the first book in the new The Curse Workers series, focuses on Cassel, a teenage boy born into a family of workers. Working magic is illegal, which means anyone born with the gift — his entire family — either works for the mob or as a con artist. Except Cassel, that is, because Cassel doesn’t have a gift. What he does have is strange dreams that make him sleepwalk, and end up in the strangest places, like on top of the dorms at his boarding school. If only he could figure out what was causing these dreams, he knows he would be okay. But what’s causing the dreams is even scarier than what is in them.
White Cat is quintessential Holly Black. You have intriguing characters, razor sharp dialog, dark and moody settings, and a unique system of magic. In this world, the system of magic is ... Read More
The Magisterium — (2014-2015) Middle Grade. Publisher: From NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a riveting new series that defies what you think you know about the world of magic. Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial. Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail. All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him. So he tries his best to do his worst – and fails at failing. Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future. The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . . From the remarkable imaginations of bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a heart-stopping, mind-blowing, pulse-pounding plunge into the magical unknown.
The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
I listened to The Iron Trial, by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare on audiobook, narrated by Paul Boehmer. It tells the story of Callum Hunt, or Cal, a boy who enrolls in a magical boarding school, makes friends, irritates teachers, and finds out he's been marked from birth by the greatest enemy the magical world knows. Sounds familiar, right?
I read a lot of complaining reviews about this Middle Grade book, all accusing The Iron Trial of being a Harry Potter rip-off. Cassandra Clare is, after all, the woman who got her start by writing Harry Potter fan-fic. This is not Harry Potter fan-fic, though, any more than Star Wars is Joseph Campbell fan-fic.
Th... Read More
A Flight of Angels by Rebecca Guay (illustrator)
Stories by Holly Black, Louise Hawes, Bill Willingham, Alisa Kwitney and Todd Mitchell
An angel has fallen. Led by their insatiable curiosity, the hosts of fae have followed the descent of the white-winged creature and now gather around his still-breathing body to decide what to do with him. They decide to hold a trial, and present evidence in the form of stories about the deeds of angels to decide whether or not to let him live.
I am fairly new to reading graphic novels, so I do not know how original the conceit is of having multiple authors work on the same novel, but here it works splendidly. Each author is responsible for a different angel story, told by a different fae, which accounts for differences in tone. Holly ... Read More
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a novel of the same name as a short story in Holly Black’s The Poison Eaters, and anthology of delightfully dark YA stories, all with particular flavours and drawing on different myths from around the world. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown finds the reader in a post-vampiricism-infected United States. The cities in which the largest outbreaks occurred were swiftly enclosed (earning the name ‘Coldtowns’), trapping vampires, humans, and infected alike in a backwards world where day is night and predators look like the people you once loved.
The way one turns into a vampire in Holly Black’s world is unique. It’s a disease that has particular stages from bitten to full vampire, and there’s a way to beat it. Of course sweating out the infection isn’t easy, as it takes 88 d... Read More
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Once upon a time, in a town called Fairfold, Holly Black set her story for her stand-alone novel The Darkest Part of the Forest. The dark faerie-tale fuses the fantastical with the mundane, as humans and Fae folk exist alongside one another, the faeries even being a huge source of tourism for the little town. That is an original and intriguing premise if there ever was one, with promises of dark twists and turns. But somewhere along the lines the plot failed in its execution, and a book that began as compelling, seemed to lose its magic.
The story opens in the forest, where a high school party is in full swing. Drunken teenagers lounge against the glass casket of a sleeping Prince with horns and pointed ears. One such teenager is Hazel. Angsty and brooding, Hazel doesn’t like the part of her that keeps kissing all the boys and leading them n... Read More
The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Coyote Road: Trickster Tales is another thematic fantasy anthology by the trio of Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, and Charles Vess. Coyote Road features twenty-six pieces of fiction and poetry. Each story is preceded by art by Vess and ends with a short bio and afterword from the author. In the Introduction, Windling gives us an extensive account of trickster tales around the world. The last few pages of the book consist of a Recommended Reading list of titles that tackle that subject as well.
Perhaps the best description I have for the stories here is that they're sophisticated and well-written. They're not easy reading and some have a slow pace, but they tend to leave a resonating emotion by the time you're done with them. This is probably one of the more "literary" anthol... Read More
Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Fairy tales were my first love when I was a child. My mother introduced me to the joys of stories with The Golden Book of Fairy Tales long before I learned how to read. My early reading included the first three volumes of The Junior Classics and Andrew Lang’s colorful fairy tale books. When Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling started editing anthologies of new takes on the old tales for adults with Snow White, Blood Red, I was delighted. And when Datlow and Windling started editing a series of original fiction for young adults based on fairy tales, I couldn’t resist t... Read More
Wings of Fire edited by Jonathan Strahan & Marianne S. Jablon
I don't like dragons.
This is probably not the first sentence you'd expect to find in a review of Wings of Fire, an anthology devoted exclusively to dragon stories, but I thought it best to get it out of the way right from the start.
There's nothing inherently wrong with dragons. They're just terribly overused, one of those tired genre mainstays that people who typically don't read a lot of fantasy will expect in a fantasy novel because they were practically unavoidable for a long time. To this day, I confess to having to suppress a mental groan whenever I encounter them.
For a long time, I actively avoided reading any fantasy novel with the word dragon in the title. Granted, I made several exceptions to this rule in the past, most notably The King's Dragon by Read More
Sympathy for the Devil edited by Tim Pratt
Please allow me to introduce Sympathy for the Devil, a fine new anthology filled entirely with short stories about the devil... who is, as we all know, a man of style and taste. However, you won’t just find the smooth-talking stealer of souls here. In addition to that famous version of His Grand Infernal Majesty, you’ll also find funny devils, monstrous devils, abstract devils and strangely realistic ones. Devils scary and not-so-scary, devils who are after children’s souls and others going after old men. Devils with a surprising amount of business acumen, and devils who try to get what they want, no matter the cost. There’s even one who engages in a competitive eating contest — the prize is, of course, someone’s soul.
Sympathy for the Devil, edited by Tim Pratt, offers up 35 very diverse short stories (and o... Read More
The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling
The Faery Reel is an indispensable tome for anyone who has a mania for faeries. Aside from the short stories in this anthology, the comprehensive introduction of Terri Windling on the fey and the illustrations by Charles Vess are worth the price of admission in themselves. Moreover, the last few pages feature a Further Reading section on the topic of faeries. The typography of the book is appropriate to the faery theme and makes the text quite readable. In other words, it's a really pretty book.
But The Faery Reel isn't just about exterior beauty, and I'd still buy the book if only for the story selections and the poetry. There are actually a lot of stories I liked in this anthology, and choosing a select few to talk about is quite difficult: "Catnyp" by Read More
Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier
Back in 2007, Holly Black and Justine Larabalestier got in an argument about which fiction creature was superior — zombies or unicorns. Spurred on by that debate, they each recruited some of their author friends to write short tales in which they present the storytelling possibilities of the two mythic beasts. With header notes for each story in which they discuss the historical background for the different takes on the creatures, HollyBlack heads up Team Unicorn, and Justine Larbalestier heads up Team Zombie.
Writing for Team Unicorn, we have Kathleen Duey, Read More
Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant (eds.)
Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories is a new young adult collection edited by veteran anthologists Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant. Featuring twelve conventional short stories and two graphic entries, Steampunk! showcases a wide variety of ideas and styles that fall under the steampunk umbrella. The collection is entertaining and is lent extra freshness by the variety of settings explored by the authors: none of the stories are set in Victorian London.
The book begins with “Some Fortunate Future Day” by Cassandra Clare. This is a creepy little story about a rather warped young girl who desires love but knows very little about it. Th... Read More
Dark Duets edited by Christopher Golden
Christopher Golden explains in his introduction to Dark Duets that writing is a solitary occupation right up until that moment an alchemical reaction takes place and a bolt of inspiration simultaneously strikes two writers who are friends. Golden has found that the results of collaboration are often fascinating and sometimes magical, as when Stephen King and Peter Straub teamed up to write The Talisman. Writing is an intimate, very personal process, Golden says, and finding someone to share it with is difficult but exciting. Golden therefore undertook to create a book full of such diffi... Read More
Monstrous Affections by Kelly Link & Gavin Grant
Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales, a new anthology by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant, was an interesting and surprising read. Interesting because, duh, anything the duo behind Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet puts together has to be great. And surprising because nothing on the cover prepared me for its YA-focus.
And let’s talk about the cover for a second, because it is incredible. Red thistles explode out of line-drawn stems. Blood drips from the maw of a fully-colored toothy black beast as it crouches over a prone, line-drawn man... his prey, we assume. Out of the beast’s back arise feathered wings, again line-drawn. I love the contras... Read More
Doll Bones — (2013) Publisher: Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing …and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice. But one night the girls pay Zach a visit and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll — which claims to be made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity…A chilling ghost story by the bestselling author of “The Spiderwick Chronicles”, “Holly Black”.
John Joseph Adams, in recent years the editor of a raft of excellent anthologies on different science fiction, fantasy and horror themes, has now become the editor of Fantasy Magazine. The March 2011 issue is the first published under his red pencil, so to speak, and its mix of new and reprint fantasy material is promising. All content is free on the web, though ebook subscriptions and editions are available for sale.
“The Sandal-Bride,” by Genevieve Valentine, is about Sara, a woman who needs to travel from one land to a... Read More