I will start this off by saying that as a kid growing up, I love love LOVED anything to do with Faeries and other little magical creatures like that. So I was intrigued, seeing as how I haven’t actually read any young adult novels based around those types of creatures (which is kind of surprising to me). And these two books were pretty interesting to hear all about these faery worlds and creatures and customs, despite the fact that the plot followed that sort of typical YA, “you’re different from everyone else” pattern. What do we call it? The special snowflake thing? Anyways. The only problem was with the main character, Kaye… There was something about her. I wanted to like her, and for all intents and purposes I probably should have. But there was something about her that did not resonate with me.
In any case, Tithe begins with a whimsical, teenage Kaye and her mother, returning to their hometown after drifting from place to place with Kaye’s mother’s band. This experience over the many years has hardened Kaye quite a bit, but as soon as she returns home she can’t help but return to her old ways of looking for faeries and for something magical around her. This leads to some revelations that Kaye may not in fact be human, and she may also be necessary in a plot to help her faery friends from childhood. What of course puts a jam in the works is the presence of a super hunky faery boy named Roiben (look… I know it’s supposed to be like regal or faery-like but that name just isn’t working for me). They way he’s described makes me think of a young King Thranduil, so you know I’m all about that. Kaye’s childhood friend’s older brother, named Cornelius (or “Corny) also ends up involved in the works, and the two friends become a part of some dangerous faery politics between both the light and dark sides of that magical world.
Overall, the story is one that zipped by really quickly, and I did indeed want to know what was going to happen next. Holly Black has a way of writing that is detailed enough, but doesn’t get jammed up and slow down the pace of things. There were some things that I rolled my eyes at, of course, as I tend to do with YA novels that follow specific plot points or have certain things involved in them. I’m talking about the romantic relationship between Roiben and Kaye (it’s not a spoiler, I’m sure you saw that coming) that seemed very stiff and I was like, oh my goodness you guys have known each other for two days: calm down! But that is to be expected, I suppose. (Also the games of riddles asked throughout various parts seemed a little forced, even though that parts in the Hobbit wherein they are asking riddles is one of my favourites. But let’s not get off track here).
Following some brutal events within the conclusion of the first novel, Ironside then picks up with the aftermath of some new governance in the faery world, and all that that entails, while Kaye comes to terms with what her new life should look like, being that she now knows she is a faery but still wants to somehow be connected to her old life. Corny is also feeling a little out of place, now that he knows about the feary world and is afraid of coming under their spells and control, wanting to be able to protect himself, but feeling incredible human.
But to come to the end of this sprawling nonsense of words: I liked some of the minor characters in the book quite a lot more than the main ones. The plot was also enjoyable and not too complicated, but complicated enough to not get too confusing for me. I enjoyed the inclusion of the faery aspects, because as I said, I was very much into that sort of thing growing up. And in general I did like reading them and got through these books quite quickly. So if you don’t mind something that follows some of the common YA tropes, but twists them in a little bit of a different way, then maybe consider giving this series a try. And perhaps I will read the other book that comes in-between these two one day.
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