Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Tithe by Holly Black


I came by owning this book quite accidentally.  I bought Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan, which also features a cover with a butterfly on it, and then at a closing sale for my hometown’s mall Borders, I bought what I thought were the sequels to that, but were of course Holly Black’s Tithe trilogy.  And so I used my Borders Bucks and bought Tithe itself.  I’d been meaning to anyway, I’d heard good things about it, and I generally like to see what the fuss is about when there is fuss.

Sadly, I can’t say that I enjoyed it.  Well, that’s not exactly right.  I enjoyed bits of it.  The Faerie world in it was certainly attractive and mesmerizing… but the human world seemed… just plain off.  Like Black was trying too hard to contrast the two, and had to up the harshness of the human world to an unrealistic level.  Besides the main character, I simply didn’t buy that these kids were kids.  They all seemed far too jaded, and a little caricature-ish.  And everything in the Faerie world seems… oh a bit too awful.  I mean, I never was the type who’d pretend faeries were supposed to be pretty, nice little things, but I’ve always felt that there had to be some niceness to them, otherwise why would people be so enamored with them?  I’d think you’d get tired of the cruelty to the point that the physical beauty simply couldn’t make up for it.

There’s something particularly dark going on with one of the main character’s human friends, too, that I really just don’t even know if I want to see where it leads to.  It can’t be anything good, at this rate, and again, what is the appeal of something that can’t lead to any good at all? As I already own the sequels, however, I will probably read them at some point.  I don’t have a lot of hope that they’ll get better though.

I give this a disappointed B-… leaning towards a C+.  Some people love it though… maybe one of you can tell me what I’m missing?

About Lisa Asanuma

Lisa is a professional freelance writer and editor, along with a bookbinder and knitting obsessee. Lisa has a passion for YA literature (inside her passion for literature in general) and is currently querying on her first novel. View all posts by Lisa Asanuma

10 responses to “Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Tithe by Holly Black

  • Isabelle

    This book got lots of great buzz and because I’ve always enjoyed faeries and fae I wanted to check it out. I think I’m going to get it from the library and see. I don’t like it when things are too harsh though. I mean, if I want gritty reality, I don’t bother reading. I want something a little more escapist. *shrugs* That’s just me though.

    • Lisa

      This isn’t gritty reality. This gritty is WAY unrealistic. That’s the thing that bugs me.

      • sxs

        I disagree about the grittiness and jadedness being unrealistic. The kids in the book, and in Valiant, are a combination of street kids who scrabble to get by and latch-key blue collar kids with absentee adults in their community. They’re in constant danger and fear – and that would be true even without the faeries. It’s what I like about the two books – having come from that sort of a background and known a lot of other people who have, it was refreshing not read about a nice “safe” adult/human world.

      • Isabelle

        This is what I love about book discussions! There can be lots of different viewpoints. Sxs, this is a great point. To someone who has more experience in that lifestyle, it wouldn’t have seemed unrealistic. I haven’t read it yet, but I definitely want to try it out now! If only to get a sense of it for myself. I was a latch-key blue collar kid, with a single mother who worked to get us out of the projects, so I know a thing or two about gritty reality. I’d like to see if I can relate to the grittiness or if it feels like its trying too hard.

        You’re right though, Sxs, I’m not usually a fan of a nice, safe adult/human world. What’s the fun in that? 😉

        Is Valiant the new unicorn book?

      • Lisa

        Valiant is the second in this novel, Isabelle.

        sxs, a book definitely depends on whatever you bring to it. I certainly did not grow up in this type of place, more in a suburbia where scary things happen anyway, no matter how safe anyone might think they are. Still I’ve read what I think are more realistic portrayals of kids having to fend for themselves in harsher conditions than these. And really, part of what you said is part of what troubled me with these kids. They didn’t seem scared of the potentially dangerous situations surrounding them, just hardened against them. *shrugs* I tend to be really picky with my books, though.

      • Isabelle

        Oh. Duh. I have no clue why I thought she might be talking about that new unicorn book. I think I’ve just had it on my mind lately.

      • sxs

        but do tell – what’s the unicorn book?

      • Lisa

        That’s Rampant by Diana Peterfreund, about killer unicorns!

  • Susan

    I never read this, but Holly Black will be doing a reading and signing at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC in September, if anyone’s interested. It’s free! 🙂

  • Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective – Lament: The Fairy Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater « Tales From The Hollow Tree

    […] Which is okay, and certainly one way to deal with the issue, but the ones I’ve read (Tithe, for example) just haven’t done it for me.  This is for multiple reasons, but the main one […]

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