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Tithe: A Modern Faeire Tale (Modern Faerie Tale) Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 1, 2002
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Sixteen-year-old Kaye Fierch is not human, but she doesn't know it. Sure, she knows she's interacted with faeries since she was little--but she never imagined she was one of them, her blond Asian human appearance only a magically crafted cover-up for her true, green-skinned pixie self. First-time author Holly Black explores Kaye's self-discovery and dual worlds in her riveting, suspenseful novel Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale. The book has its faults: it slips into shock-value mode; the descriptions are often overwritten (sunset on the water looks like the sun slit his wrists in a bathtub); the language is overly, unnecessarily explicit; and the writing often unpolished. Still, the story's pull is undeniable, and readers under its spell will be hard-pressed to put the book down.
The novel begins in a bar in Philly, where Kaye's alcoholic rock-singer mother's boyfriend tries to kill her. For their own safety, mother and daughter quickly move back to grandma's on the New Jersey shore where Kaye grew up. This ugly turn of events was all rigged by the Faerie world, as it turns out, a world Black describes in deliciously vivid, if rather overblown, detail. Kaye, a drinking, smoking, foul-mouthed high school dropout in the land of mortals, soon finds herself embroiled--as a human sacrifice, no less--in a battle between Faerieland's Seelie and more malevolent Unseelie courts. The beautiful, mysterious knight Roiben, torn between worlds himself, falls in love with Kaye--the brave, clever changeling--against his better judgment. Throughout the electrifying journey to the horrific underworld of this modern faerie fantasy, teen readers will relate to a hard-luck tough girl who feels alienated, discovers her best qualities in the worst of circumstances, and finally finds a place between worlds where she can feel at home. (Ages 13 and older) --Karin Snelson
From Publishers Weekly
Tripping the dark fantastic with newcomer Black means pixie dust may very well include blood spatter, sharp thorns and bits of broken glass. At the center of this edgy novel is Kaye Fierch, a 16-year-old "Asian blonde" who spends most of her time taking care of a would-be rock star mom. When her mom's latest boyfriend turns homicidal, they return to Gram's house at the New Jersey shore, where Kaye hooks up with childhood friend Janet and her gay brother, Corny Stone. Stark images ripple through the third-person narrative, offering clues to Kaye's internal state (e.g., "She loved the serene brutality of the ocean"). A covert sexual overture from Janet's boyfriend precedes Kaye's nighttime encounter at the edge of the woods, where she meets and rescues Roiben, a mysterious Black Knight with silver hair. Throughout, the author subtly connects Kaye's awakening sexual feelings in the real world and Roiben's sudden appearances. Kaye soon discovers that she is a changeling-and that her one-time "imaginary" faerie playmates want her to pretend to be a human, so they can use her as the Tithe ("the sacrifice of a beautiful and talented mortal") to earn their freedom for seven years. The author's Bosch-like descriptions of the Unseelie Court, with its Rackham-on-acid denizens, and the exquisite faeries haunt as well as charm. When fate intervenes, sudden tragedy teaches Kaye about the high cost of straddling the faerie and human worlds (and sets the stage for a possible sequel). A gripping read. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Kaye is a tough, resourceful, street smart sixteen year old. As the daughter of a flighty, small-time rock singer who rarely stays in one place for more than six months at a time Kaye's life has been filled with chaos. When her mother is attacked after a performance she decides to temporarily move them back into her mother's home. As a child, Kaye loved living in her grandmother's old house and believed she had faery friends.
Kaye has always been able to see things other cannot but it's not until she returns to her grandmother's home that she begins to discover exactly how different she is. In the woods Kaye meets an injured young man with pewter hair and pointy ears named Roiben who requests her help, reluctantly promises her payment and then quickly disappears. Though Kaye refuses to be anything like her worthless mother and will never pine away after a man she can't seem to get thoughts of Roiben out of her head.
Soon after the weird encounter with Roiben, Kaye discovers her imaginary world is not quite so imaginary after all. After locating two of her old faery friends she discovers that she is fated to play an important (and possibly deadly) role in helping her friends remain free from the warring faery kingdoms (the Seelie and the Unseelie) who want to enslave them. Kaye's somewhat unstable world becomes even more-so when she enters into a fantasy world filled with magic and dark beauty and the irresistible but terribly confusing dark knight named Roiben who may or may have not killed one of her friends.
Tithe is a real page-turner. I especially enjoyed its bleak, but never overwhelmingly depressing, look at life from a jaded sixteen year old point of view. Even before Kaye discovers the world of faery her world isn't that of your typical teenager. Because of her upbringing and lack of parental support she's got an edge about her that makes her refreshingly interesting. She smokes, talks tough, and holds her own against the flakey, ineffective adults and self-absorbed teens that inhabit her world. Though she's self-reliant and insightful she's still a teenager prone to emotion, moments of selfishness and wicked thoughts of revenge. Her faults, as well as her strengths, are the reason I enjoyed her character so much. Her conflicted feelings for Roiben -- is he tortured hero or cold-hearted fiend? -- are also another fascinating aspect of the story. Their emerging romance manages to be sensual, touching and anything but the same-old, same-old. If you're tired of angelic, nauseatingly good heroes and heroines don't worry because you won't find any here!
Though I enjoyed this book thoroughly I did spot a few minor problems (sorry, I can't shut off the nitpicker inside me). With the exception of Kaye, nearly all of the secondary characters aren't given enough space to become very well defined. This is one case where I think a longer book may have made for a near perfect book (and I almost never say such things). Kaye's troubled friend Corny and especially Roiben would've benefited from more space to become fully fleshed out characters. I guess we can hold out hope for a prequel all about Roiben. There is also some troublesome dialogue here and there that needed a little tweaking. At times I felt like I'd walked in on the middle of a conversation and missed a sentence or two somewhere along the way. Other times I felt like the characters must be reading each others minds because their dialogue made little sense to me. Despite this the story moves very quickly, is imaginative, entertaining and I wish it hadn't had to end quite so soon. I cannot wait to see what author Holly Black comes up with next.
With its adult language, sexuality, violence and alcohol consumption "Tithe" reads more like an adult novel featuring young protagonists and because of this I'd recommend it for the "older" young adult ... 4 ½ stars
I liked it too much to be 3 stars but not quite enough to give it 4, but that’s what I did. It starts off great but quickly segues into a little silly. But it picks up rather quickly and turns interesting.
The author hooked me from the opening segment: Kaye puts a cigarette butt in her mom’s beer. Had to keep reading after that.
I found it hard to believe that Kaye became friends so fast with Corny…and that she cared so much about his well being. In my mind, and according to the book, I had him pictured as a goofy, ugly-ish teenager with no friends. (His first scene in the book led us to believe that he had mental issues, at the very least.)
The story she created was fascinating. I loved all the various creatures. It was easy to get inside her creation. She did a wonderful job of describing everything. The book was fast paced with lots of entertainment.
There were a lot of mysteries going on within the story. Some were easy to figure out but many were not. I was still uncertain till the end. AND there are still many mysteries to be solved with the coming books. I’m not certain at this time if I will be reading them, as I’m doing the PopSugar 2015 reading challenge. But I’ll keep them in my radar.
While you might think of Amanada Hocking's Trylle when you think of this book, dont. It's completely different. And as much as I like Hocking (and have read every book) this is actually a better, more well written book.
If you are looking for a book for your teens to read you should be aware that there is lots of language in this book, plus some mature themes, and of course, a romance with several kisses.
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