What makes Black's books so appealing to young adult readers is their well-balanced mix of reality (including a healthy dose of sex), high-concept fantasy and old-fashioned mystery. Raudman's expert reading of Black's second book in what the author calls the Faerie series catches that delicate blend very well, giving equal weight and credibility to characters who are definitely human (like heroine Valerie, her dismal school mates, her tacky family and the sad young derelicts she meets in the subway tunnels of New York) and those who are from another world entirely like the golden-eyed troll Ravus, who delivers a drug that heals faeries but kills the human runaways who steal it, looking for a way to improve their desperate condition. Raudman, whom listeners might recognize as several of the younger voices on The Simpsons, has a universally appealing voice likely to please hardcore fantasy fans and neophytes alike. Ages 14-up. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
This best-selling author's unique amalgam of traditional faerie lore with edgy YA issues creates a narrative by turns eloquent and crude, ethereal and gritty, a book that tempers childhood fairy tales with dysfunctional family issues, teen sex and substance abuse. Its audience might be anyone fifteen or older who simultaneously feels nostalgia for simple fairy stories yet relishes a novel that gives expression to some tough adult emotions and situations. In the book's first chapter, 17-year-old Valerie Russell discovers her boyfriend having sex with her mother and flees home in New Jersey for life on the streets of New York City. Val winds up sharing an abandoned subway platform with homeless drug-addicted teens and starts to enjoy the effects of shooting drugs herself. Val's subterranean, urine-scented, "Blade Runner-esque" night city craftily intersects the world of Faerie Folk; the drug is actually a medicine that keeps faeries healthy but induces hallucinations in humans. Her new friends are couriers, delivering the medicine to Folk living concealed and not altogether pleasant lives around the City. Any middle grade reader could relish some elements of the story: powerful magic potions, mermaids and faerie queens and kings. A charismatic troll named Ravus trains Val, who was a member of her high school lacrosse team, in the art of combat with a glass sword. After saving Ravus' life during a formal duel with an evil faerie villain, and rejecting drugs, Val winds up back home, in school, hoping to join the fencing team in college at NYU, and to continue her romance with Ravus. 2005, Simon and Schuster, Ages 15 up.
J. H. Diehl
Black, author of the best-selling Tithe (Simon & Schuster, 2002/VOYA October 2002), follows up with another "modern fairy tale." Seventeen-year-old Val runs away to New York City after catching her boyfriend and mother engaged in a sexual encounter. Val is befriended by three street urchins who live in the city's subway system and who claim that faeries exist. After accompanying one of the urchins on a delivery of Never, a medicine that allows the faeries to survive in the city, Val's curiosity is piqued. In seeking to prove the existence of faeries, she is bound into service by an enigmatic troll, falls in love with him, and becomes embroiled in a struggle to prove his innocence. A subplot develops when Val and her new friends use Never as a drug and become addicted. Several characters and scenes seem inserted for their sensational value and do little to enhance the plot. Why is Ruth, Val's best friend at school, gay? Why does the author choose to advance the story by having Val catch her mother and boyfriend together? This reviewer also has concerns about the explicit descriptions of drug use and the way the story ends. Val runs away for a month but seems to suffer few consequences. Nevertheless this novel's appeal to teen readers is undeniable. It is escapist fantasy complete with romance and a happy ending. It is likely to circulate regularly, especially if teens at your library enjoy fantasy and if the author's last book has been popular. VOYA CODES: 2Q 4P S (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2005, Simon & Schuster, 320p., Ages 15 to 18.
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, July 2005: Readers of Black's previous novel, Tithe, know what the uninitiated don't: faerie has nothing to do with magic wands and glitter. Black's faerie world is a dark Gotham, where the shadows of the city hide strange doings and beings. At 17, Valerie Russell runs away to New York after she walks in on her boyfriend making out with her mother. Angry and disillusioned, she hooks up with a street couple, Lolli and Dave, who take her down into their subterranean world amid the dark, dank tunnels of the subway system where she meets Luis…and learns about the faeries that co-exist with humans in the city. She also learns about the faerie crystal powder that Lolli shoots up and the powers it can bringbut at a price. Valerie finds herself drawn into the dark world of faerie and bound in service to the troll Ravus, unwittingly caught up in an intrigue involving murder and deception. She also grows more and more fond of Ravus in a subplot with echoes of Beauty's feelings for the Beast. Black spins a spell of a story weaving adolescent subculture, the dark side of the city, and those glimpses of the shadow side that most of us miss. We might all look more closely to see the sprout of horns or a flash of goat feet, sure that the faerie world is real if only we know how to see. (An ALA Best Book for YAs.)
Gr 9 Up
Val Russell runs away from home after discovering her mom and her boyfriend making out. In New York, she meets two eccentric, homeless teens who take her to their hideout in the subway tunnels where Dave's older brother runs an underground operation dealing potions to faeries. Lolli introduces her to the land of Faerie by shooting up an otherworldly substance called Never (named after Edgar Allan Poe's "Nevermore" from The Raven ). Val and Lolli are caught by Ravus, the powerful troll they work for. After enduring his rage and bargaining for Lolli's life in true Beauty and the Beast fashion, Val is bound to Ravus for indefinite servitude and falls in love with him. In Holly Black's dark fantasy (S & S, 2005), filled with twists and turns, her vivid portrayal of the homeless teenagers is harsh, realistic, and apt. Narrator Renee Raudman's excellent voice-overs bring the characters to life, and listeners will relate to the teens. School libraries considering purchasing this audiobook should be aware that there is strong language, sex, violence, and rampant drug and alcohol use. A unique mixture of fairy tales, urban stories, and fantasy, this title will fly off the library shelf. For public libraries, Valiant is a must for fans of Black's Tithe (S & S, 2002).
Ann CrewdsonCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Murdered mermaids, runaways addicted to magical drugs and trolls inhabit a New York City that draws heavily on the conventions of urban fantasy. Valerie runs away from home when she finds her boyfriend and mother having sex. She joins punks Lolli and Dave in their squat in an abandoned subway station. Dave helps deliver a magical drug to the city's mythical denizens, and he and Lolli steal the drug, which they call Never, to use themselves. High on Never, the mortal users can control a little bit of faerie glamour. When being caught breaking and entering binds Val into a contract with an erudite troll, Val, despairing, becomes a Never addict. Her spiral into squalor is complicated by her increasing regard for the troll and the intrigues of the faerie exile community. Though Val doesn't grow much as a character, she does rescue her troll and return home, safe at last. Val's story, while not the best of the genre, makes for a compelling, edgy read complete with faerie murders and shaven-headed heroines. (Fantasy. YA)
"An edgy but ultimately life-affirming read."
Horn Book Guide
"This is a powerful book.... I love it when a girl learns how to be Valiant."
Tamora Pierce, author of the Immortals and Song of the Lioness quartets