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Valiant: A Modern Faerie Tale Paperback – October 1, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
But there are problems. Never is addictive. Val, who earns Ravus's trust as they talk and she serves as a runner for his drugs to his faerie customers, becomes addicted and steals from him. And his customers are getting murdered. Ravus, with whom Val is falling in love, is the prime suspect, and the faerie court that exiled him and his customers to our world is coming to deal with the murders and with him.
This is a powerful book. It's about betrayal, homelessness, addiction and its poisonous effects on relationships and lifestyles, love, appearances, and hate. It's about making decisions and living with them. It's about choices. It's pure Holly Black, dark and wonderful and beautiful. No, it's not TITHE, and that's good. If I want to read TITHE, I have it on my shelf. And while I didn't set out to read about addicted kids, she says a lot of powerful things about how people get addicted to something, anything, without realizing that they're getting addicted. It doesn't have to be a substance--it can be a person, or a way of life. I'd like to know that, so when I feel like Val does in VALIANT, I'll know I'm drifting into an addictive mindset.
As always, I love it when a girl learns how to *be* Valiant.
It's about obeying the insane suggestion to go go go that your lizard brain whispers when you're standing at a train station or an airport. It's about the rusty, dirty magic of New York wrapped around a girl with a broken heart. It's about following those beautiful people down the alley at 4am instead of finishing your watery coffee and catching the morning train home.
So I suppose she had me at St. Mark's Place, but there's more here than the trimmings; the story's bones are strong and important. This is the way a schoolgirl becomes troll defender, knight and protector, Valiant -- so hide your daughters, Missouri. This is a story that bangs out space for the girls who can't help standing up to bullies, and does so without even a whiff of the after-school special.
The same feel for the surreal within the ordinary that made Tithe, which is set in the same world, so successful is even more apparent in Valiant. The exiled fairies scattered across Manhattan are no stranger than the perceptual disconnect between the normal adults strolling through Greenwich Village and the homeless kids they step around without seeing. Black's monsters can be brutal and deadly, but no more than the heroine's own friends and family.
Being in possession of tickets to a hockey game at Madison Square Garden, Valerie fled to New York, where a chance meeting introduced her to a part of the New York Underground that usually only exists in the mind of Neil Gaiman and his ilk. Joining her new friends Lolli (as in pop) and Dave (just Dave), she officially became a runaway, living deep in the subway system and scavenging for her daily bread (and whatever else) on the streets (and in the alleyways and garbage cans) of Manhattan. She also met Luis, the leader of the little group, a strange young man with multiple body piercings and a both a weight and a chip on his shoulder.
Very soon, Valerie realized that there was more going on than communal living and scavenging, and here begins the grim faerie tale part of this story. As Holly Black tells it, there are faerie folk living among us, members of the Seelie Court, who appear to us as regular people (regular for Manhattanites at least) by magical means. Her friends have been working for a troll who lives under a bridge, and they have been trip trapping to and from his lair running errands in exchange for certain favors.
Soon Valerie becomes a part of the network, but when someone begins killing all the great faerie folk of Manhattan, alliances must be changed, loyalties questioned, and somebody has to get to the bottom of the matter before more innocent lives are lost.
This is a very dark faerie tale, and in telling it, the author also deals with betrayal, alternative lifestyles, drug abuse, casual carnal encounters, larceny, treachery, cruelty to animals, and more, all laced with generous helpings of profanity and teenage angst.
A modern faerie tale, and extremely well written, but recommended for more mature teenage readers due to the content.
Amanda Richards, November 24, 2007