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Tithe (Modern Tale of Faerie Series #1)

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Overview

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.

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Tithe (Modern Tale of Faerie Series #1)

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Overview

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.

After returning home from a tour with her mother's rock band, sixteen-year-old Kaye, who has been visited by faeries since childhood, discovers that she herself is a magical faerie creature with a special destiny.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Publishers Weekly, starred review A gripping read....[T]he exquisite faeries haunt as well as charm.

Kirkus Reviews, starred review Debauchery, despair, deceit, and grisly death — what more could you ask for from a fairy tale?...A luscious treat for fans of urban fantasy and romantic horror.

Publishers Weekly
An edgy 16-year-old 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 earn their freedom for seven years. In a starred review, PW called this book "a gripping read." Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews

Debauchery, despair, deceit, and grisly death -- what more could you ask for from a fairy tale?...A luscious treat for fans of urban fantasy and romantic horror.

Publishers Weekly

A gripping read....[T]he exquisite faeries haunt as well as charm.

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Kaye is 16 when she finally learns why she's such a strange young woman: she's a changeling pixie under a spell. A move home to the New Jersey shore brings her back in touch with her childhood friends, the solitary fey, who want to end their servitude to the higher-born faeries by foiling the sacrifice of human blood known as the Tithe. Kaye offers to masquerade as a human for the Tithe and is swept into a complicated net of politics and treason between two rival courts of faeries. Grim scenes from Kaye's life in the human world pile up at the beginning of the story in what initially seems a gratuitous manner (her mother is almost stabbed by her current boyfriend, Kaye steals for thrills, a new acquaintance tries to rape her), but the details all have explanations later on in the equally grim world of the faeries. The plot moves quickly, and the secondary characters are appealing, if not always entirely believable. Occasional awkward changes in point of view won't discourage readers who enjoy dark, edgy fantasy. However, the excessive use of obscenities adds little to character development. Thegreatest strength of the story lies in the settings, particularly the descriptions of the debased Unseelie Court.-Beth Wright, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington, VT Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Debauchery, despair, deceit, and grisly death-what more could you ask from a fairy tale? Sixteen-year-old Kaye has always felt like a freak; partly because she's spent half her life in seedy bars while her mother vainly pursued rock-star fame, but also from her memories of childhood fairy companions. Still, she's not prepared for what happens after she rescues Roiben, the gravely wounded and impossibly gorgeous elven knight. Her friendly sprites return to warn her that Roiben serves the Unseelie Court, the darker aspect of Faerie, and that she has been designated the mortal sacrifice in the ritual Tithe that binds the independent fey to their cruel and depraved rule. But what if that sacrifice weren't . . . quite . . . mortal? Black's stunning debut cleverly twists the Tam Lin tale. Though Kaye's home life seems almost comically sordid, when the action moves to the various Faerie Courts and their allies, their intrigues make an intricate tapestry, woven of dark threads of obsession, degradation, and horror, yet graced with bewitching beauty and a surprisingly tender romance. Once she drops her angst-ridden attitude, Kaye is a clever, courageous heroine with an appealingly wry voice, and Roiben is a gloriously damaged and darkly noble tragic hero. While most of the supporting cast has little to do beyond playing villains or victims, Black has an eye for the telling detail that brings the most minor character to life. A labyrinthine plot with Goth sensibility makes this a luscious treat for fans of urban fantasy and romantic horror. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689867040
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Publication date: 3/23/2004
  • Series: Modern Tale of Faerie Series , #1
  • Edition description: Repackage
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 112,526
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Holly Black
Holly Black spent her early yearts in a decaying Victorian mansion where her mother fed her a steady diet of ghost stories and faerie tale. An avid collector of rare foldlore volumes, spooky dolls, and crazy hats, she lives in West Long Branch, New Jersey, with her husband, Theo. Visit her website at www.blackholly.com.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

"Coercive as coma, frail as bloom

innuendoes of your inverse dawn

suffuse the self;

our every corpuscle become an elf."

— Mina Loy,

"Moreover, the Moon,"

The Lost Lunar Baedeker

Kaye spun down the worn, gray planks of the boardwalk. The air was heavy and stank of drying mussels and the crust of salt on the jetties. Waves tossed themselves against the shore, dragging grit and sand between their nails as they were slowly pulled back out to sea.

The moon was high and pale in the sky, but the sun was just going down.

It was so good to be able to breathe, Kaye thought. She loved the serene brutality of the ocean, loved the electric power she felt with each breath of wet, briny air. She spun again, dizzily, not caring that her skirt was flying up over the tops of her black thigh-high stockings.

"Come on," Janet called. She stepped over the overflowing, leaf-choked gutter along the street parallel to the boardwalk, wobbling slightly on fat-heeled platform shoes. Her glitter makeup sparkled under the street lamps. Janet exhaled ghosts of blue smoke and took another drag on her cigarette. "You're going to fall."

Kaye and her mother had been staying at her grandmother's a week already, and even though Ellen kept saying they'd be leaving soon, Kaye knew they really had nowhere to go. Kaye was glad. She loved the big old house caked with dust and mothballs. She liked the sea being so close and the air not stinging in her throat.

The cheap hotels they passed were long closed and boarded up, their pools drained and cracked. Even the arcades were shut down, prizes in the claw machines still visible through the cloudy glass windows. Rust marks above an abandoned storefront outlined the words salt water taffy.

Janet dug through her tiny purse and pulled out a wand of strawberry lipgloss. Kaye spun up to her, fake leopard coat flying open, a run already in her stocking. Her boots had sand stuck to them.

"Let's go swimming," Kaye said. She was giddy with night air, burning like the white-hot moon. Everything smelled wet and feral like it did before a thunderstorm, and she wanted to run, swift and eager, beyond the edge of what she could see.

"The water's freezing," Janet said, sighing, "and your hair is fucked up. Kaye, when we get there, you have to be cool. Don't seem so weird. Guys don't like weird."

Kaye paused and seemed to be listening intently, her upturned, kohl-rimmed eyes watching Janet as warily as a cat's. "What should I be like?"

"It's not that I want you to be a certain way — don't you want a boyfriend?"

"Why bother with that? Let's find incubi."

"Incubi?"

"Demons. Plural. Like octopi. And we're much more likely to find them" — her voice dropped conspiratorially — "while swimming naked in the Atlantic a week before Halloween than practically anywhere else I can think of."

Janet rolled her eyes.

"You know what the sun looks like?" Kaye asked. There was only a little more than a slice of red where the sea met the sky.

"No, what?" Janet said, holding the lipgloss out to Kaye.

"Like he slit his wrists in a bathtub and the blood is all over the water."

"That's gross, Kaye."

"And the moon is just watching. She's just watching him die. She must have driven him

to it."

"Kaye..."

Kaye spun again, laughing.

"Why are you always making shit up? That's what I mean by weird." Janet was speaking loudly, but Kaye could barely hear her over the wind and the sound of her own laughter.

"C'mon, Kaye. Remember the faeries you used to tell stories about? What was his name?"

"Which one? Spike or Gristle?"

"Exactly. You made them up!" Janet said. "You always make things up."

Kaye stopped spinning, cocking her head to one side, fingers sliding into her pockets. "I didn't say I didn't."

The old merry-go-round building had been semi-abandoned for years. Angelic lead faces, surrounded by rays of hair, divided the broken panes. The entire front of it was windowed, revealing the dirt floor, glass glittering against the refuse. Inside, a crude plywood skateboarding ramp was the only remains of an attempt to use the building commercially in the last decade.

Kaye could hear voices echoing in the still air all the way out to the street. Janet dropped her cigarette into the gutter. It hissed and was quickly carried away, sitting on the water like a spider.

Kaye hoisted herself up onto the outside ledge and swung her legs over. The window had been long gone, but her leg scraped against the residue as she slid in, fraying her stockings further.

Layers of paint thickly covered the once-intricate moldings inside the carousel building. The ramp in the center of the room was tagged by local spray-paint artists and covered with band stickers and ballpoint pen scrawlings. And there were the boys.

"Kaye Fierch, you remember me, right?" Doughboy chuckled. He was short and thin, despite his name.

"I think you threw a bottle at my head in sixth grade."

He laughed again. "Right. Right. I forgot that. You're not still mad?"

"No," she said, but her blithe mood was gone, leaving her drained and anxious. Janet climbed on top of the skateboard ramp to where Kenny was sitting, a king in his silver flight jacket, watching the proceedings. Handsome, with dark hair and darker eyes. He held up a nearly full bottle of tequila in greeting.

Marcus handed Kaye the bottle he was drinking from, making a mock throwing motion as he did so. A little splashed on the sleeve of his flannel shirt. "Bourbon. Expensive shit."

She forced a smile as she took it. Marcus resumed gutting a cigar. Even hunched over, he was a big guy. The brown skin on his head gleamed, and she could see where he must have nicked himself shaving it.

"I brought you some candy," Janet said to Kenny. She had candy corn and peanut chews.

"I brought you some candy," Doughboy mocked in a high, squeaky voice, jumping up on the ramp. "Give it here," he said.

Kaye walked around the round room. It was magnificent, old and decayed and fine. The slow burn of bourbon in her throat was perfect for this place, the sort of thing a man in a summer suit who always wore a hat might drink.

"What flavor of Asian are you?" Marcus asked. He had filled the cigar with weed and was chomping down on one end. The thick, sweet smell almost choked her.

She took another swallow from the bottle and tried to ignore him.

"Kaye! You hear me?"

"I'm half Japanese." Kaye touched her hair, blond as her mother's. It was the hair that baffled people.

"Man, you ever see the cartoons there? They have them little, little girls with these pigtails and shit in these short school uniforms. We should have uniforms like that here, man. You ever wear one of those, huh?"

"Shut up, dickhead," Janet said, laughing. "She went to grade school with Doughboy and me."

Kenny looped one finger through the belt rings of Janet's jeans and pulled her over to kiss her.

"Yeah, well, damn." Marcus laughed. "Won't you hold up your hair in those pigtails for a second or something? Come on."

Kaye shook her head. No, she wouldn't.

Marcus and Doughboy started to play Hacky Sack with an empty beer bottle. It didn't break as they kicked it boot to boot, but it made a hollow sound. She took another long sip of bourbon. Her head was already buzzing pleasantly, humming in time with imagined merry-go-round music. She moved farther back into the dim room, to where old placards announced popcorn and peanuts for five cents apiece.

Against the far wall was a black, weathered door. It opened jerkily when she pushed it. Moonlight from the windows in the main room revealed only an office with an old desk and a corkboard with yellowed menus still pinned to it. She stepped inside, even though the light switch didn't work. Feeling in the blackness, she found a knob. This door led to a stairwell with only a little light drifting down from the top. She felt her way up the stairs. Dust covered the palms of her hand as she slid them along the railings. She sneezed loudly, then sneezed again.

At the top was a small window lit brightly by the murderess moon, ripe and huge in the sky. Interesting boxes were stacked in the corners. Then her eyes fell on the horse, and she forgot all the rest. He was magnificent — gleaming pearl white and covered with tiny pieces of glued-down mirror. His face was painted with red and purple and gold, and he even had a bar of white teeth and a painted pink tongue with enough space to tuck a sugar cube. It was obvious why he'd been left behind — his legs on all four sides and part of his tail had been shattered. Splinters hung down from where his legs used to be.

Gristle would have loved this. She had thought that many times since she had left the Shore, six years past. My imaginary friends would have loved this. She'd thought it the first time that she'd seen the city, lit up like never-ending Christmas. But they never came when she was in Philadelphia. And now she was sixteen and felt like she had no imagination left.

She tried to set the horse up as if he were standing on his ruined stumps. It wobbled unsteadily but didn't fall. Kaye pulled off her coat and dropped it on the dusty floor, setting the bourbon next to it. She swung one leg over the beast and dropped onto its saddle, using her feet to keep it from falling. She ran her hands down its mane, which was carved in golden ringlets. She touched the painted black eyes and the chipped ears.

The white horse rose on unsteady legs in her mind. The long curls of the gold mane were cool in her hands, and the great bulk of the animal was real and warm beneath her. She wove her hands in the mane and gripped hard, slightly aware of a prickling feeling all through her limbs. The horse whinnied softly beneath her, ready to leap out into the cold, black water. She threw back her head.

"Kaye?" A soft voice snapped her out of her daydream. Kenny was standing near the stairs, regarding her blankly. For a moment, though, she was still fierce. Then she felt her cheeks burning.

Caught in the half-light, she could see him better than she had downstairs. Two heavy silver hoops shone in the lobes of his ears. His short, cinnamon hair was mussed and had a slight wave to it, matching the beginnings of a goatee on his chin. Under the flight jacket, his too-tight white T-shirt showed the easy muscles of someone who was born with them.

He moved toward her, reaching his hand out and then looking at it oddly, as though he didn't remember deciding to do that. Instead he petted the head of the horse, slowly, almost hypnotically.

"I saw you," he said. "I saw what you did."

"Where's Janet?" Kaye wasn't sure what he meant. She would have thought he was teasing her except for his serious face, his slow way of speaking.

He was stroking the animal's mane now. "She was worried about you." His hand fascinated her despite herself. It seemed like he was tangling it in imaginary hair. "How did you make it do that?"

"Do what?" She was afraid now, afraid and flattered both. There was no mocking or teasing in his face. He was watching her so intensely that he seemed drained of expression.

"I saw it stand up." His voice was so low she could almost pretend that she didn't hear him right. His hand dropped to her thigh and slid upward to the cotton crotch of her panties.

Even through she had seen the slow progression of his hand, the touch startled her. She was paralyzed for a moment before she sprang up, letting the horse fall as she did. It crashed down, knocking the bottle of bourbon over, dark liquor pouring over her coat and soaking the bottoms of the dusty boxes like the tide coming in at night.

He grabbed for her before she could think, his hand catching hold of the neck of her shirt. She stepped back, off-balance, and fell, her shirt ripping open over her bra even as he let go of it.

Shoes pounded up the stairs.

"What the fuck?" Marcus was at the top of the stairwell with Doughboy, trying to shove his way in for a look.

Kenny shook his head and looked around numbly while Kaye scrambled for her bourbon-soaked coat.

The boys moved out of the way, and Janet was there, too, staring.

"What happened?" Janet asked, looking between them in confusion. Kaye pushed past her, shoving her hand through an armhole of the coat as she threw it over her back.

"Kaye!" Janet called after her.

Kaye ignored her, taking the stairs two at a time in the dark. There was nothing she could say that would explain what had happened.

She could hear Janet shouting. "What did you do to her? What the fuck did you do?"

Kaye ran across the carousel hall and swung her leg over the sill. The glass she had carefully avoided earlier slashed a thin line on the outside of her thigh as she dropped among the sandy soil and weeds.

The cold wind felt good against her hot face.

Cornelius Stone picked up the new box of computer crap and hauled it into his bedroom to drop next to the others. Each time his mother came home from the flea market with a cracked monitor, sticky keyboard, or just loads of wires, she had that hopeful look that made Corny want to hit her. She just couldn't comprehend the difference between a 286 and a quantum computer. She couldn't understand that the age of guerilla engineering was at a close, that being a motherfucking genius wasn't enough. You needed to be a rich motherfucking genius.

He dropped the box, kicked it hard three times, picked up his denim jacket with the devil's head on the back, and made for the door.

"Can you use that stuff, honey?" His mother was in Janet's room, folding a new pair of secondhand jeans. She held up a T-shirt with rhinestone cats on it. "Think your sister will like it?"

"Thanks, Ma," he said through gritted teeth. "I got to get to work." He walked past The Husband, who was stooped over, getting a beer from the case under the kitchen table. The white cat was waddling along the countertop, its belly dragging with another pregnancy, screaming for canned food or pickles and ice cream or something. He petted its head grudgingly, but before it began rubbing against his hand in earnest, he opened the screen door and went out into the lot.

The cool October air was a relief from the recirculated cigarette smoke.

Corny loved his car. It was a primer-colored Chevy blooming with rust spots and an inner lining that hung like baggy skin from the roof. He knew what he looked like. Beaky. Skinny and tall with bad hair and worse skin. He lived up to his name. Cornelius. Corny. Corn-dog. But not in his car. Inside, he was anonymous.

Every day for the last three weeks he had left a little earlier for work. He would go to the convenience store and buy some food. Then he would drive around, cruise past all the local rutting joints, imagining he had a semiautomatic rifle in the car and counting how many he could have gotten. "Pow," he'd say, softly, to rolled-up windows as a brown-haired boy with broad shoulders and a backwards baseball cap ran up to the giggling girls behind the window of a red truck. "Pow. Pow."

Tonight, he bought a cup of coffee and a package of black licorice. He lingered over a paperback with an embossed metallic dragon on the cover, reading the first few sentences, hoping something would interest him. The game was becoming boring. Worse than boring, it made him feel more pathetic than before. Nearly a week before Halloween and all, this was the point when a real maniac would go and get a gun. He sipped at the coffee and almost spat it out. Too sweet. He sipped at it some more, steeling himself to the taste. Disgusting.

Corny got out of his car and chucked the full coffee into the parking lot. It splashed satisfactorily on the asphalt. He went inside and poured himself another cup. From behind the counter, a matronly woman with frizzy red hair looked him over and pointed to his jacket. "Who are you supposed to be, the devil?"

"I wish," Corny said, dropping a dollar twenty-five on the counter. "I wish."

Copyright © 2002 by Holly Black

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First Chapter

Chapter 2


"The stones were sharp,

The wind came at my back;

Walking along the highway,

Mincing like a cat."

-- Theodore Roethke, "Praise to the End!"


The wind whipped tiny pebbles of rain across Kaye's face. The droplets froze her hands, making her shiver as they slid down her wet hair and under the collar of her coat. She walked, head down, kicking the scattered trash that had eddied up on the grassy shores along the highway. A flattened soda can skittered into a sodden chrysanthemum-covered foam heart, staked there to mark the site of a car crash. There were no houses on this side of the road, just a long stretch of wet woods leading up to a gas station. She was over halfway home.

Cars hissed over the asphalt. The sound was comforting, like a long sigh.

I saw you. I saw what you did.

Awfulness twisted in her gut, awfulness and anger. She wanted to smash something, hit someone.

How could she have done anything? When she tried to make a magazine page turn on its own or a penny land on heads, it never worked. How could she have made Kenny see a broken-legged carousel horse move?

Never mind that she might as well assume that Spike and Lutie and Gristle had been imaginary. She'd been home for two weeks, and there was no sign of them, no matter how many times she had called them, no matter how many bowls of milk she left out, no matter how many times she went down to the old creek.

She took a deep breath, snorting rain up her nose. It reminded her of crying.

The trees seemed like flat lead panels missing the stained glass to fit between their branches. She knew what her grandmother was going to say when she got back, stinking of liquor with a torn shirt. True things.

The same things that Janet would say tomorrow. There was no way to explain what had happened without admitting to something. His hand on her leg was what Janet would really care about -- that, and that she had let it rest there, even if only for a moment. And she could imagine what he was telling Janet now -- flushed, angry, and drunk -- but even a badly managed lie would sound better than the truth.

I saw it stand up.

But even if he didn't go that far, who would believe that he touched her crotch on purpose, but ripped her shirt by accident? No, he must have told an entirely different story. So what was Kaye supposed to say when Janet asked what happened? Janet thought she was a liar already.

She could still feel the heat of Kenny's hand, a stroke of fire along her thigh in contrast to her otherwise rain-soaked skin.

Another gust of rain stung her cheeks, this one bringing a shout with it from the direction of the woods. The noise was brief, but eloquent with pain. Kaye stopped abruptly. There was no sound except the rain, hissing like radio static.

Then, just as a truck sped past, kicking up a cloud of drizzle, she heard another sound. Softer, this one, maybe a moan bitten off at the end. It was just inside the copse of trees.

Kaye moved down the slight slope, off the short grass and into the woods. She ducked under the dripping branches of an elm, stepping on tufts of short ferns and looping briars. Weeds brushed across her calves, leaving strokes of rain. The storm-bright sky lit the woods with silver. An earthy, sweet odor of rot bloomed where she disturbed the carpet of leaves.

There was no one there.

She half turned toward the highway. She could still see the road from where she was standing. What was she doing? The sound must have carried over from the houses beyond the thin river that ran along the back of the woods. No one else would be dumb enough to go trooping through wet, dripping woods in the middle of the night.

Kaye walked back up to the road, picking her way through spots that looked somewhat drier than others. Burrs had collected along her stockings, and she bent down to pull them off.

"Stay where you are." She jumped at the voice. The accent was rich and strange, though the words were pronounced precisely.

A man was sprawled in the mud only a few steps from her, clutching a curved sword in one hand. It shone like a sliver of moonlight in the hazy dark. Long pewter hair, plastered wetly to his neck, framed a face that was long and full of sharp angles. Rivulets of rain ran over the jointed black armor he wore. His other hand was at his heart, clutching a branch that jutted from his chest. The rain there was tinted pink with blood.

"Was it you, girl?" He was breathing raggedly.

Kaye wasn't sure what he meant, but she shook her head. He didn't look much older than she was. Certainly not old enough to call her "girl."

"So you haven't come to finish me off?"

She shook her head again. He was

long-limbed -- he would be tall if he were standing. Taller than most people, taller than any faerie she had ever seen -- still, she had no doubt that was what he was, if for no other reason than the pointed tops of his ears knifing through his wet hair -- and that he was beautiful in a way that made her breath catch.

He licked his lips. There was blood on them. "Pity," he said quietly.

She took a step toward him, and he twisted into a defensive crouch. Wounded as he was, he still moved swiftly. Hair fell forward across his face, but his eyes, shining like mercury, studied her intently.

"You're a faerie, aren't you?" she said soothingly, holding her hands where he could see them. She had heard stories of the court fey -- the Gentry -- from Lutie-loo, but she had never seen one. Maybe that was what he was.

He stayed still, and she took another half step toward him, holding out one hand to coax him as if he were some fascinating, dangerous animal. "Let me help you."

His body was trembling with concentration. His eyes never flickered from her face. He held the hilt of his sword in a white-knuckled grip.

She did not dare take another step. "You're going to bleed to death."

They stayed like that a few more minutes before he slumped down to one knee in the mud. He bent forward, fingers clutching the leaves, and spat red. The wet lashes over his half-closed eyes were as silver as a safety pin.

She took two steps and knelt down next to him, bracing herself with shaking hands. This close, she could see that his armor was stiff leather sculpted to look like feathers.

"I cannot draw the arrow myself," he said softly. "They are waiting for me to bleed a little more before they come against my blade."

"Who is waiting?" It was hard to understand that someone had shot him with a tree branch, but that seemed to be what he was saying.

"If you would help me, draw this arrow." His eyes narrowed, and he shook his head. "If not, then push it in as deep as you can and hope that it kills me."

"It will bleed more," Kaye said.

He laughed at that, a bitter sound. "Either way, no doubt."

She could see the despair in his face. He obviously believed her to be part of some plan to kill him. Still, he slid his body back until he could lean against the trunk of an oak. He was braced, waiting to see what she would do.

She thought of the faeries she had known when she was a child -- impish, quick things -- no mention of wars or magical arrows or enemies, certainly no lies, no deception. The man bleeding in the dirt beside her told her how wrong her perceptions of Faery had been.

Her fingers flinched away from the wound in his chest. Her lungs turned to ice as she looked at the grisly wound. "I can't do it."

His voice stayed soft. "What do they call you?"

"Kaye," she said. There was silence for a moment as she noticed the cold cloud of her breath rise up with the word.

"I'm Roiben." Faeries didn't give their names easily, even part of their names, although she had no idea why. He was trying to show her that he trusted her, maybe trying to make up for the assumptions he had made about her. "Give me your hand."

She let him take her hand in his and guide it to the branch. His hand closed over hers, both of them chilled and wet, his fingers inhumanly long and rough with calluses. "Just close your hand on it and let me pull," he said. "You don't even have to look. As long as I'm not touching it, I might be able to draw it out."

That shamed her. She had told him that she wanted to help him, he was in a whole lot of pain, and it was no time for her to be squeamish. "I'll do it," she said.

Roiben let go of her hand, and she gave a sharp tug. Although his face constricted with pain, the branch only pulled out a short way.

Were there really other faerie folk in the trees, waiting for him to be weak enough to defeat? Kaye thought that if so, now was a great time for them to come down and have a go at it.

"Again, Kaye."

She took note of the angle of the armor this time, changing her position so that the branch couldn't catch on one of the plates. She raised herself to one knee, braced, and then stood, pulling upward as hard as she could.

Roiben gave a harsh cry as the branch slid free of his chest, its iron tip black with blood. His fingers touched the wound and he raised them, slick with blood, as if suddenly disbelieving that he had been shot.

"Very brave," he said, touching his wet fingers to her leg.

Kaye tossed the stick away from her. She was shuddering, and she could taste the ghost of blood in her mouth. "We have to stop the bleeding. How does your armor come off?"

He seemed not to understand her at first. He just looked at her with a kind of incredulity. Then he leaned forward with a groan. "Straps," he managed.

She came and sat behind him, feeling over the smooth armor for buckles.

A sudden wind shook the branches above, raining an extra shower of heavy droplets down on them, and Kaye wondered again about faeries in the trees. Her fingers fumbled in her haste. If those faeries were still afraid of Roiben, they didn't have to worry for much longer -- she was betting that it would be only a few more minutes before he passed out entirely.

To get off his breastplate, she not only had to detach it from the backplate at his shoulders and sides -- there were also straps that connected it to the shoulderplates and to his legplates. Finally, she managed to peel it off his chest. Underneath, the bare skin was mottled with blood.

He tipped back his head and closed his eyes. "Let the rain clean it."

She pulled off her coat and hung it on one of the branches of the tree. Her shirt was ripped already, she reminded herself as she took it off. She tore it into long strips and began winding them around Roiben's chest and arms. He opened his eyes when she touched him. His eyes narrowed, then widened. Their color was mesmerizing.

He straightened up, horrified. "I didn't even hear you rip the cloth."

"You have to try to stay awake." Kaye's cheeks felt so warm that the cold rain actually felt good against them. "Is there somewhere you can go?"

He shook his head. Fumbling near him, he picked up a leaf and wiped it against the underside of the leather breastplate. It came away shining red. "Drop this in the stream. I -- there is a kelpie there -- it is no sure thing that I will be able to control her in this weather, but it is something."

Kaye nodded quickly, although she had no idea what a kelpie was, and made to take the leaf.

He did not let it go immediately. "I am in your debt. I mislike not knowing how I must repay it."

"I have questions..."

He let her take the leaf. "I will answer three, as full and well as is within my power."

She nodded. Like a faerie tale. Fine; it wasn't as if she had wanted anything from him anyway.

"When you drop the leaf in the water, say Roiben of the Unseelie Court asks for your aid."

"Say to what?"

"Just say it aloud."

She nodded again and ran in the direction of the water. The steep bank of the stream was choked with vegetation and broken glass. Roots, swept bare of the mud that should have surrounded them, sat above the bank like overturned baskets or ran along the ground like the pale arms of half-buried corpses. She forbade herself to think of that again.

She squatted down and set the leaf, blood side down, into the water. It floated there, spinning a little. She wondered if it was too close to the bank, and tried to blow it farther out.

"Roiben of the Unseelie Court asks for your help," she said, hoping that she had gotten it right. Nothing happened. She said it again, louder, feeling foolish and frightened at the same time. "Roiben of the Unseelie Court needs your help."

A frog surfaced and began to swim in her direction. Would that have something to do with a kelpie? What kind of help were they supposed to get from a shallow, polluted stream?

But then she saw that she had been mistaken. What she had taken for the eyes of a frog were actually hollow pits that quavered as something swam through the water toward her. She wanted to run, but fascination combined with obligation to root her to the spot. Hollow pits formed into flaring nostrils on the snout of a black horse that rose up from the black water as if created from it. Moss and mud slid from its dripping flanks as the thing turned its head to regard Kaye with luminous white eyes.

She could not move. How many minutes passed as she stared at those mottled gray flanks, smooth as sealskin, and stared into the impossible glow of those eyes? The creature inclined its neck.

Kaye took a half step backward and tried to speak. No words came.

The horse-thing snuffled closer to her, its hooves sinking in the mud, snapping twigs. It smelled of brackish water. She took another careful step backward and stumbled.

She had to say something. "This way," she managed finally, pointing through the trees. "He's this way."

The horse moved in the direction she pointed, speeding up to a trot, and she was left to follow it, nearly shaking with relief. When she got to the clearing, Roiben was already straddling the creature's back. His breastplate had been haphazardly strapped on. She let out a breath she hadn't known she was holding.

He saw her emerge from under the canopy of branches and smiled. His eyes seemed darker in the moonlight. "Were I you, I would stay clear of the Folk in the future. We are a capricious people, with little regard for mortals."

She looked at him again. There were scratches on his armor that she didn't remember. Could he have been attacked? He could barely lift his head before -- it was impossible to believe that he could have fought with someone. "Did something happen?"

His smile deepened, wiping the weariness from his face. His eyes glittered. "Don't waste your questions." Then the horse rode, moving like no living thing, darting between trees with unearthly speed and grace. Leaves flurried from kicks of its hooves. Moonlight glowed along its flanks.

Before she could think, she was alone in the wood. Alone and shivering and proud of herself. She moved to retrieve her coat, and a glimmer of light caught her eye. The arrow.

She knelt and picked up the branch with its iron tip. Her finger ran up the rough bark and touched the too-warm metal. A shudder went through her, and she dropped it back in the mud. The woods were suddenly menacing, and she walked as quickly as she could back toward the road. If she started running, she didn't think she'd be able to stop.


Kaye dug her feet into the muddy slope that marked the edge of her grandmother's lawn and heaved herself up. She slid past the overflowing trash can, the broken-down Pinto, the rusted coffee cans wired together as a fence for a wilted herb garden.

All the lights in the house seemed to be on, highlighting the grubby curtains. Blue lights flickered in the living room where the TV was.

She opened the backdoor and walked into the kitchen. Pots and pans, crusted with food, were piled in the sink. She was supposed to have washed them. Instead, she went to the cupboard and took out a bowl, filled it with milk, then put a piece of stale white bread on top of it. It would have to do, she thought as she carefully opened the door and set it on the step -- after all, the only things likely to come for it anymore were neighborhood cats.

Kaye crept into the living room.

On the other side of the staircase, Ellen was sitting in front of the television, eating one of the miniature Snickers Grandma had bought for the trick-or-treaters. "Leave me the fuck alone," she muttered to the drink in front of her.

"You think I don't know anything. Okay, you're the smart one, right?" Kaye's grandmother said in that too-sweet voice that pissed off Kaye so much. "If you're so smart, then how come you're all alone? How come all these men just use you and leave you? How come the only one to take you in is your old, stupid mother?"

"I heard you the first million fucking times you said it."

"Well, you're going to hear it again," Kaye's grandmother said. "Where is your daughter tonight? It's almost one in the morning! Do you even care that she's out gallivanting around who knows where, trying her damnedest to turn out just like -- "

"Don't you start in on my daughter!" Kaye's mother said with surprising vehemence. "She's just fine. You leave her out of your bitching."

Kaye bent her head down and tried to walk up the stairs as quickly and quietly as she could.

She caught her own reflection in the hallway mirror, mascara and glitter eyeshadow smeared across her cheeks and under her eyes, running in crusted and glittering streaks that looked like they were made by tears. Her lipstick was smudged and dull, arching across her left cheek where she must have wiped it.

Kaye turned to take a furtive look into the living room. Her mother caught her glance, rolled her eyes, and motioned her up the stairs with a furtive hand movement.

"While she's in this house she's going to live by the same rules that you lived by. I don't care that she's spent the last six years in a rat-infested apartment with whatever hoodlums you took up with. From now on that girl's going to be raised decent."

Kaye crept the rest of the way up the stairs and into her room. She closed the door as quietly as she could.

The tiny white dresser and too-short bed seemed to belong to someone else. Her rats, Isaac and Armageddon, rustled in their fish tank on top of the old toy box.

Kaye stripped off her clothes and, not caring about the wet or the mud or anything, climbed into the small bed, wrapped a blanket around herself, and folded her legs so that she fit. Kaye knew what obsession was like -- she saw how her mother craved fame, pined over men who treated her like shit. She didn't want to want someone she would never have.

But just for tonight, she allowed herself to think of him, to think of the solemn, formal way he had spoken to her, so unlike anyone else. She let herself think of his flashing eyes and crooked smile.

Kaye slid down into sleep like water closing over her head.

Copyright © 2002 by Holly Black

Read More Show Less

Introduction

A Reading Guide for TITHE, VALIANT, and IRONSIDE

By Holly Black

ABOUT THE BOOKS

Holly Black's first Young Adult novel, the urban fantasy/faerie tale Tithe, focuses on a sixteen-year-old girl named Kaye who is actually a pixie, only at first she doesn't know it. Kaye starts to piece together the strange story of her real identity when she and her mother return to the New Jersey town where she grew up, and Kaye comes in contact with the faeries she used to play with as a child and a wounded knight, Roiben, who will change her life forever. Black's second book, Valiant, picks up where Tithe leaves off, but follows a different girl — a human named Val — who catches her boyfriend and her mother in a compromising position and runs away from home. In New York City, Val hooks up with a strange group of homeless teens and joins them in living in an abandoned subway station. It's not long before Val learns that these teens are not like anyone she's ever met — they work as couriers for a troll and come in contact with faeries on a regular basis. Ironside, Black's third book, returns readers to Kaye's story, beginning two months after the ending of Tithe. Roiben is about to take the throne of the Unseelie Court and there will undoubtedly be a war, but then Kaye makes a foolish declaration and is sent on an impossible quest. Luis and Dave from Valiant become an integral part of the story as Kaye is forced to visit Silarial, the Seelie queen, to try to save Roiben and herself.

DISCUSSION TOPICS

How does Tithe compare with other fairy tale books you've read in the past? Did you like the modernsetting?

If you were Kaye, what gift would you have given to the kelpie if the broken carousel horse had not been available?

What other orders would you have asked Rath Roiben Rye to carry out if you suddenly knew his full name? (Don't forget his skill of turning leaves into money!)

For New Jersey and New York readers: Name all of the real locations that were mentioned in the three books — for example: Allaire State Park, Caf - des Artistes, etc.

If you were able to choose, would you want to be a part of the Seelie court, the Unseelie court, the solitary fey, or the human world? Why?

At the end of Tithe, what do you imagine happened to Roiben and Kaye? Before you read the sequel, how did you feel about the ending of Tithe? Would you have ended the book differently?

Were you excited to see cameos by some of the characters from Tithe in Valiant?

Who is your favorite character from Valiant? Why? What qualities does this character possess that make him/her most interesting to you?

If Valiant was made into a movie, what current film or TV stars would you cast as Val, Lolli, Dave, Luis, Ravus and the others?

Put yourself in Lolli's shoes — tell the story of Valiant from her point of view. What do you think happened to Lolli at the end of the book?

What did you think of the use of the faerie drug "Never" in the story? Did you think that the book showed enough of the downside of using drugs? If Dave had never taken the drug, how do you think his story would change? What about Lolli? Val?

We know that Kaye got her GED during the two months between the end of Tithe and the beginning of Ironside. What else do you think happened during this interim? How did Kaye cope with the loss of Janet, her mom moving away, her relationship with Roiben, etc.?

Ironside obviously takes place in December — what are the clues that tell you what time of year it is?

If you were cursed like Corny, would you immediately get to the ocean to cure yourself or would you attempt to touch someone or something? Whom or what?

Do you think it was a mistake for Kaye to have the young human brought back to Ellen? Do you think the girl will grow up to be a normal person?

If you were in Kaye's position with no need for college and the ability to create a new life for yourself, what would you do? What do you think of Kaye's coffee shop plans and her idea of dividing her time between it and Roiben?

Which adventurous duo do you think had a more challenging or exciting task: Val and Luis going after Mabry for Ravus's heart or Kaye and Corny traveling to the Seelie Court to strike a deal with Silarial?

Should there be additional books in this series? How would the story continue? Which character besides Kaye or Val would you like to see explored in another book?

Were any of the quotes at the beginning of each chapter familiar to you? Choose a few of your favorites and discuss how they relate to what happened in the story at that point.

RESEARCH AND ACTIVITIES

Create a Tithe board game that follows Kaye's travels between the Seelie and Unseelie courts and the human world. Playing pieces can represent something about each character — Kaye's purple cat suit, Roiben's long white hair, Corny's beat-up car, etc. Use obstacles like iron, thorns, ogres, and the Unseelie queen. Make minor characters part of the game (Janet, Kenny, Ellen) by detouring major players to save them from the kelpie. Be creative!

Make a clay sculpture, a painting, a drawing, or other piece of art of your favorite character from any of the books. What do you think they would actually look like?

Make an Unseelie feast! Re-create dishes that Kaye sees when she sneaks into the Unseelie court, then invent your own interesting recipes.

Write a spell for creating a glamour, then read it aloud to the group. Describe the new look you have created.

Choose your favorite scene and act it out in front of the group. If several people wish to be involved, choose a scene that features many characters. Make your performance as simple or as elaborate as you choose by adding costumes and props or just reading dialogue aloud from the book.

Assuming that Kaye's grandmother lives in Long Branch, New Jersey, get an atlas and map out the route that Kaye and Corny (and later, Luis) took during the course of their travels in Ironside.

Design your own sword — either patterned after the glass one Ravus used to teach Val how to fight or one of your own creation. Draw a detailed picture of your design.

Holly Black spent her early years in a decaying Victorian mansion where her mother fed her a steady diet of ghost stories and books about faeries. Her first book, Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale, was an ALA Top Ten Book for Teens, received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, and has been translated into twelve languages. Her second teen novel, Valiant, was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a Locus Magazine Recommended Read, and a recipient of the Andre Norton Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. Visit Holly at www.blackholly.com.

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

A Reading Guide for TITHE, VALIANT, and IRONSIDE

By Holly Black

ABOUT THE BOOKS

Holly Black's first Young Adult novel, the urban fantasy/faerie tale Tithe, focuses on a sixteen-year-old girl named Kaye who is actually a pixie, only at first she doesn't know it. Kaye starts to piece together the strange story of her real identity when she and her mother return to the New Jersey town where she grew up, and Kaye comes in contact with the faeries she used to play with as a child and a wounded knight, Roiben, who will change her life forever. Black's second book, Valiant, picks up where Tithe leaves off, but follows a different girl — a human named Val — who catches her boyfriend and her mother in a compromising position and runs away from home. In New York City, Val hooks up with a strange group of homeless teens and joins them in living in an abandoned subway station. It's not long before Val learns that these teens are not like anyone she's ever met — they work as couriers for a troll and come in contact with faeries on a regular basis. Ironside, Black's third book, returns readers to Kaye's story, beginning two months after the ending of Tithe. Roiben is about to take the throne of the Unseelie Court and there will undoubtedly be a war, but then Kaye makes a foolish declaration and is sent on an impossible quest. Luis and Dave from Valiant become an integral part of the story as Kaye is forced to visit Silarial, the Seelie queen, to try to save Roiben and herself.

DISCUSSION TOPICS

How does Tithe compare with other fairy tale books you've read in the past? Did you like the modern setting?

If you were Kaye, what gift would you have given to the kelpie if the broken carousel horse had not been available?

What other orders would you have asked Rath Roiben Rye to carry out if you suddenly knew his full name? (Don't forget his skill of turning leaves into money!)

For New Jersey and New York readers: Name all of the real locations that were mentioned in the three books — for example: Allaire State Park, Café des Artistes, etc.

If you were able to choose, would you want to be a part of the Seelie court, the Unseelie court, the solitary fey, or the human world? Why?

At the end of Tithe, what do you imagine happened to Roiben and Kaye? Before you read the sequel, how did you feel about the ending of Tithe? Would you have ended the book differently?

Were you excited to see cameos by some of the characters from Tithe in Valiant?

Who is your favorite character from Valiant? Why? What qualities does this character possess that make him/her most interesting to you?

If Valiant was made into a movie, what current film or TV stars would you cast as Val, Lolli, Dave, Luis, Ravus and the others?

Put yourself in Lolli's shoes — tell the story of Valiant from her point of view. What do you think happened to Lolli at the end of the book?

What did you think of the use of the faerie drug "Never" in the story? Did you think that the book showed enough of the downside of using drugs? If Dave had never taken the drug, how do you think his story would change? What about Lolli? Val?

We know that Kaye got her GED during the two months between the end of Tithe and the beginning of Ironside. What else do you think happened during this interim? How did Kaye cope with the loss of Janet, her mom moving away, her relationship with Roiben, etc.?

Ironside obviously takes place in December — what are the clues that tell you what time of year it is?

If you were cursed like Corny, would you immediately get to the ocean to cure yourself or would you attempt to touch someone or something? Whom or what?

Do you think it was a mistake for Kaye to have the young human brought back to Ellen? Do you think the girl will grow up to be a normal person?

If you were in Kaye's position with no need for college and the ability to create a new life for yourself, what would you do? What do you think of Kaye's coffee shop plans and her idea of dividing her time between it and Roiben?

Which adventurous duo do you think had a more challenging or exciting task: Val and Luis going after Mabry for Ravus's heart or Kaye and Corny traveling to the Seelie Court to strike a deal with Silarial?

Should there be additional books in this series? How would the story continue? Which character besides Kaye or Val would you like to see explored in another book?

Were any of the quotes at the beginning of each chapter familiar to you? Choose a few of your favorites and discuss how they relate to what happened in the story at that point.

RESEARCH AND ACTIVITIES

Create a Tithe board game that follows Kaye's travels between the Seelie and Unseelie courts and the human world. Playing pieces can represent something about each character — Kaye's purple cat suit, Roiben's long white hair, Corny's beat-up car, etc. Use obstacles like iron, thorns, ogres, and the Unseelie queen. Make minor characters part of the game (Janet, Kenny, Ellen) by detouring major players to save them from the kelpie. Be creative!

Make a clay sculpture, a painting, a drawing, or other piece of art of your favorite character from any of the books. What do you think they would actually look like?

Make an Unseelie feast! Re-create dishes that Kaye sees when she sneaks into the Unseelie court, then invent your own interesting recipes.

Write a spell for creating a glamour, then read it aloud to the group. Describe the new look you have created.

Choose your favorite scene and act it out in front of the group. If several people wish to be involved, choose a scene that features many characters. Make your performance as simple or as elaborate as you choose by adding costumes and props or just reading dialogue aloud from the book.

Assuming that Kaye's grandmother lives in Long Branch, New Jersey, get an atlas and map out the route that Kaye and Corny (and later, Luis) took during the course of their travels in Ironside.

Design your own sword — either patterned after the glass one Ravus used to teach Val how to fight or one of your own creation. Draw a detailed picture of your design.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 684 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 686 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Spiderwick Fan

    I love Holly Black for her "Spiderwick Chronicals." So when I picked up Tithe, I thought, "Cool! Holly Black, faries, teenager's level, it can't get any better!" But I had to put the book down and give it away within the first ten pages. I can understand that for some adult writters to write for teenagers today, but it feels like Holly Black is trying way to hard. It also felt like Black was trying to use every curse word in her memory banks within the first chapter. Does she think all teens are over sexed, bad mouthed hoolagins?

    If your looking for 'edge', maybe you'll like this book. But if you want a good story, with substance, read "Graceling".

    19 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 20, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Fantastical

    I love this book. This book is the best Faerie book I have ever read. It has great characters, plots, etc. Very edgy and dark. Excellently written. If you are not a person to enjoy a book with drug use, sex, graphic description, and or plain dark novels/series, then dont read it.<BR/>Other than that, its an awsome read. No doubt about it.

    16 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2007

    I would give this less stars if I could

    I was overwhelmed with the amount of high ratings given to this book. How in the world do so many people like tithe! I admit that it has been some time since I last read it, but a single fact still remains: this was a rather poorly written story. I was barely able to get through it, and only my stubbornness to always finish a book allowed me to finish. There were so many things I felt were wrong. Let's start with one of my biggest peeves: Corny Stone. Ignoring his name for fear of laughter, Corny is the main character's (Kaye) best friend's brother. To say it bluntly, he is the token gay in the story. Heavens know that I have no problem with this, I mean, I would be hard-pressed to have a problem. However, what the author does with said character is demeaning. Corny is used so cruely and without care. I was really upset by how Black used Corny being gay to do whatever the hell she wanted. And though highly amused by the shounen-ai and manga references, they were superflous and a faulty attempt of connecting to the audience. Next, let's examine the plot, or lack there of. I understand how Black wanted to tie in 'fantasy' with 'real life situations' but it does not, and cannot, work because neither exists. Her fantasy is vague and hastily written, without any real cause for it being there in most cases. (That merry-go-round horse, though a great idea, was silly to have been included. Why it was there in that warehouse still a mystery to me. Why it was needed for the plot, I dare not explore.) Then, her real life is ridiculously overworked and extreme. From neglected teens to raves (I am still feeling the horror of her description of what I treasure so) to misconduct of reckless, annoying teenagers. Such actions were together a complete and utter misrepresentation of what a teenager is. Sidetracked as this paragraph may seem, this is all that is left after the absent plot is removed. It was simply not rememberable. And breaching off from that: the sheer YA-ness of this book was what kept me from at least accepting this book as a novel. There was little original with this story, characters and descriptions. It was dry. Okay, the guy was really hot. Okay, okay. The girl can be pitied. And, yeah, we got the token gay. But there was nothing else. I was personally disgusted by how little Faye cared about her friend's end. Oh, she cried! But there was nothing at all beyond that. Then, there was no attention given to breaking past the expectations of a young adult story. The ending was so bland I was laughing at its lack of anything and everything. Ugh. I cannot stand to remember how dull it was. I understand that this is the Holly Black's first novel. But I know that there are plenty of first-timers that write beautiful stories that are actually worth your time. I only suggest this book to mindless, teenaged girls that are so silly as to ignore the actual content and only see the 'OMG! Roiben's soooooo h0t! LOL!!!' part of the story. I think the most interesting thing to happen to this book was Conry 'I actually really did like him' and perhaps that reference to Star Trek's infamous couple.

    11 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A wonderful story

    It's amazing what you can find in the young adult section of your favorite book store. Normally I try to avoid this section. I find the books unsatisfying and the characters dripping with morals and ethics that are usually to adult based. For many young adult fiction writers, their characters seem to be wallowing in the 50's ideology and naivety. I know it's been a while since I was in high school, but I seriously doubt the Cleavers or the Brady's took over while I was gone. Hell yes teenagers smoke, drink, party, steal, skip or dropout of school, some are gay, some do drugs, and many even have sex. Why try to portray it differently, no matter what fantasy is playing out in a novel. Thus what I enjoyed most about Tithe was it's characters believable personalities.

    Tithe is a beautifully crafted tale of 16 year old Kaye who has had a difficult life with nomad rocker mom Ellen. Kaye has always been a bit different, from the strange things that happen around her, to her ability to see and converse with faeries. Forced to move back into her hometown, Kaye reunites with her old friends both human and faerie, stumbles across Roiben, the handsome and mysterious Unseelie Knight, and discovers a secret that reveals her true nature. Now Kaye will need all the strength and clever wit she posses if she wishes to save her friends and herself.

    I must say that Tithe is a beautifully dark, wondrous story that will captivate readers of any age. My only complaint being that the book is to short! I didn't want to leave the world of the faeries, and I am looking forward to reading Holly Black's next two books in the series. Tithe is a story to be put in the must read pile.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Good One to Read in Between Series

    Okay I became interested in this series because someone told me that a few of the characters were in Cassandra Clare's books The Mortal Instruments (I absolutely loved them and cannot wait for more!!). As I began reading I was shocked at how morbid this book was. I know it's referred to as a modern day story but as a mother I wonder if it is a little too negative for my early teen daughter. Kaye is a high school drop out, smokes, hangs out with teens that are getting drunk in abandoned buildings and having sex (only implied). I know this is really common amongst youth today but I hope that there are several young women out there that are not giving in. Overall I liked the writing and the storyline. I hope I get to know more about the characters and their storylines continue!!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 31, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Darker World of Fairy

    Sixteen-year-old Kaye has seen fairies all her life, what she doesn't know is that she is not actually human. Tough, a bit uncouth and not interested in following the rules, Kaye has never really been part of anything. But now she finds herself embroiled in the battle between the Seelie and Unseelie courts. Kaye is an interesting character, but very different from many "fairytale" heroines; she's no one's princess. The characters both fey and human are well developed and interesting. Black's world is gritty, dark and at times over developed, but it works for the story. This is no light-hearted fairytale; some hefty issues are discussed and dealt with in this novel. Recommended for readers who enjoy their fantasy with a dose of darkness.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2012

    I really liked this book. Yes, it has drugs and curses but all i

    I really liked this book. Yes, it has drugs and curses but all in all the story line was good, if a bit confusing.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2012

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    I have a special place in my heart for this book. If I remember

    I have a special place in my heart for this book. If I remember correctly, this book initiated my long-lasting love affair with urban fantasy. I almost certain that this was the first book I had ever read in the genre. I remember seeing and being interested in the cover (the original one, with the butterfly) in the young adult section of the bookstore before, but I didn&rsquo;t end up buying it at the time. Shortly thereafter, I noticed one of my best friends reading the book, and she recommended I read it the very instant she was done. I&rsquo;m glad I did.

    This novel is a gritty, dark look into the world of faeries in a modern, urban setting. Kaye is not what you would call the traditional teen protagonist, but it is somewhat refreshing to show a heroine with a dark past. I also really liked the characters of Roiben (the conflicted love interest) and Corny (Kaye&rsquo;s friend&rsquo;s gay brother with whom she develops a special relationship). I enjoy Holly Black&rsquo;s style and I think that she is a fantastic world-builder. There are a couple plot gaps and some lacking character development, but it didn&rsquo;t detract from the book for me.

    If you are someone that expects a cookie-cutter protagonist and happy endings, then no, I wouldn&rsquo;t recommend this book to you. However, if you like urban fantasy (or think you might like it), like a good, dark tale, and want an easy, enjoyable read, then I definitely recommend you check it out.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    What on Earth!

    Seriously, the language was horrible. What parent wants their teen to read such a book. I love the faries and all but the f-bomb I could live without.Allowing teens to read about drugs and such language is saying its ok to speak it!

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2008

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    I Also Recommend:

    bad book

    I really really didn¿t like this book it was too slow and too weird even for me and I like weird books. I do not recommend this book for anyone. If you like books that make no sense and have stupid love stories (I like love stories but this one was not realistic) then you will like this book.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 6, 2012

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    My go to book

    I am in love with tales of the fey, and this has got to be my all time favorite. Holly Black's urban fairy tale is exquisite. The grungy view of life is perfect coupled with the beautiful darkness of the Unseelie court. Roiben is the perfect, beautiful dark faerie and I can easily imagine myself as Kaye. I have reread this book so many times it is falling apart. The characters are all beautiful in their own messed up ways. This book takes me to the Unseelie court, and immerses me in the dark and delectable, horrifying world, which parallels with our own beautifully. I highly recommend this series whether you are 14 or 35. If you love faeries, you'll love this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2011

    Not even worth the free chapter

    This author left a good review on another series I was reading (Beautiful Creatures) and I though I'd see what she writes. Sadly, the free chapter was such a disappointment. I'm very glad I read that before bothering to purchase the book. The author went straight for shock factor by incorporating swearing and drugs within the first page. I tried to keep reading after that, but the story wasn't even worth bothering with.

    Shock factor does not equal quality writing or a good story. All this book has is shock and not a thing else. If you want a good book try the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent or the Beautiful Creatures series. Both series' are actually worth the paper they are printed on.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Not your typical Faerie. Good read.

    Curiousity got the better of me, and I decided to give this book a try. It was not what I had expected. I had heard mixed reviews about this book, and decided to try it out for myself. If you're looking for the classic faerie type book, all skipping and flowers and la la la . . . this is not the book for you. If you're looking for a dark, teen angst, raw novel then voila. I enjoyed reading this book. I liked how there was swearing and drinking and drugs because it made the characters seem more real. You may not relate to them, but you could build a better picture of what was going on in the story. Black's writing style is honest. No sugar coating, or dancing around, she wrote passionately. I loved how she described the world of the Fae. The oddity of the people in the court, and how she incorporated folklore about faeiries. And of course I liked Roiben. Edgy, sexy Roiben. I did swoon over him. I couldn't resist him! This may not be a book for everybody, but you should definitely give it a try. It may open your eyes to whole different of genre.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2011

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    Poorly Written and Rushed

    I heard amazing things about Tithe so I decided to begin reading it. Throughout the whole novel I was confused and had to re-read some pages over just to know what was going on. There are no transitions, it'll just jump from one thing to another without giving any detail. It was rushed, and partly the only reason I kept reading it was because of Kaye and Roiben. Maybe it was just me, but I was honestly confused as to what was going on with the Unseelie and Seelie courts. The overall story is good, but the way it was written lacked detail and excitement.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2011

    Too much swearing for my taste

    I liked the story, but feel that it could do without the swearing! Wish I would have read this before ordering the next two books in the series!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 27, 2011

    no enchantment on this reader

    I was excited to read this book, the summary seemed right up my alley of interests and it is written by Holly Black. So needless to say I was expecting greatness. What I got was disappointment, this book lacks magik. I read it with a friend, and if it hadn't been for that I would have layed the book down early on. So with that said let me tell ya - Tithe lacked the magik other books have that pull you into the world. I didn't feel any connection for any of the characters, and they in turn lacked empathy. A Little past the middle of the book the story-line picked up with action which helped move it along since it was a chore to pick it up and read at this point. Thankfully it went at a faster pace then and I was able to finish finally. Ms. Black did me a favor by ending this book wrapped up. I have no reason nor desire to read another in this series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    Loved it

    Although i am not a teen I love to read fantasy that is less sexual.. as alot of our adult books are... I love the series read it all and loved it passed it to my sister and friends.. anyone who wants a good fairy tell it is here:)<BR/><BR/>I have listed some other series I have read...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 23, 2014

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    This is one of my favorite books! It's got faeries, and it's set

    This is one of my favorite books! It's got faeries, and it's set in modern times, and in my mind's eye, the main fae, Roiben, is mega-hot! :P I've read this one more than once, and I love it every time I read it. I think that the imagery is very clear and it makes it very simple to imagine the story as you read it. I highly recommend this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2014

    Amazing

    One of my favorite books. I love when a writer addssome realism to something magical!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2014

    AWESOME A MUST READ

    There are two bad parts but other wise this was a awesome book I mean I thought faires were all light bright and sparkley but not in this book more like dark darker and spooker. All in all a wonderful book I also recomend Doll Bones by Holly Black also its spooky.

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