Tithe – Holly Black

When I stumbled across this young adult novel in the library, I whispered the title aloud. The word “tithe” has a wonderful sound and it is one of the words that just tastes good. The definition of “tithe” is heavier than the pronunciation. Tithe is obligatory payment to a lord or the church well known in feudal societies.

I pulled the small volume from the shelf and was equally pleased to see the cover. A bright pair of butterfly wings on a dark background with ornamental across the entire page. The cover lured me in like a moth to a flame. Pun intended.

“Tithe” is a young adult novel, so of course the protagonist is a 16-year-old girl, lost in her ordinary life, who finds out that she is special in a dangerous, risky environment. No surprises there, but I was surprised by the ordinary life, Kaye inhabits. She is a modern nomad, who has followed her wannabe rock star mom around. She is no stranger to alcohol, wild and weird parties, and irresponsibility. The supernatural environment she is exposed to is the land of the Fae with the Seelie and Unseelie courts. I readily accepted the beautifully vivid courts and their reality, but I found it difficult to envision Kaye’s mundane life. Am I a prude? I think not, but then again, I wouldn’t describe myself as a modern nomad and while my mother is awesome, she isn’t a rock star.

Inside the back cover is a wonderful blurb about Holly Black:

“Holly Black spent her early years in a decaying Victorian mansion where her mother fed her a steady diet of ghost stories and faerie tales. An avid collector of rare folklore volumes, spooky dolls, and crazy hats, she lived in West Long Branch, New Jersey, with her husband, Theo.”

What wonderful images this evokes! I visited Holly Blacks webpage where I learned that “Tithe” is the first book in “A Modern Faerie Tale” series and that the series includes three books. Holly Black has some resources for writers with plenty of interesting links.

I readily gulp down young adult novels, but am always less than impressed when I write about them afterwards. I wonder if the reason for this is that I would like to write one – and my inner jealous writing rat wrinkles up his nose, saying, “I could do that.”

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