Author: Holly Black
Publication Date: April 1st, 2004
Publisher: Margaret McElderry Book Press
Source: Bought it
Where to find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
Summary: 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
"If you think on it, I'm sure that you'll admit there's something passing strange about you. A strangeness, not just of manner, but of something else. The scent of it, the spoor of it, warns Ironsiders off, makes the wary and draws them in all the same."- pg. 96
This book gets off to an incredibly slow start. There is a lot of finding out about Kaye and her life and learning a little bit about the Faeries. Other than that, the part of this book fails to pull you into the story. I love Holly Black and her writing, so I was invested from that standpoint, but I was not feeling this book at first.
What I did appreciate about the beginning of this book is the dark Gothic aspect of the story. Many of Holly Black's books focus more on the happy, good fae then the dark ones of this story. This is definitely a darker and more mature faerie novel. I really appreciated this different side to faeries that we got to see. It showed how fae are not always the charming, cute beings we imagine them to be.
Kaye is one of those characters that make you cringe with their bad choices, she smokes, drinks, does not go to school, and is all around a poor role model. While Kaye is this despicable character, she does have some redeeming qualities that keep you on her side. And she also had definite character growth throughout the novel.
The other big issue I had with this book was the lack of information, I feel like a lot of new fae words were used but never truly explained. I would have liked to have had more background information on the faeries and why the compact was the way it was during the story. For me the world building was lacking in terms of explaining the fae world.
While this novel got off to a slow start, it definitely picked up and pulled me into the story. I started to really care about what was happening to the characters and how everything was going to turn out for them. So while a lot of this book was very "meh" for me, it definitely redeemed itself toward the end. I'm now invested in these characters and seeing where the story takes us next in Valiant. Also, I really love the new covers in the box set! While the originals do not have characters on them, in this case I prefer the use of people on the cover.