Valiant is book 2 of 3 in a series by Holly Black called Modern Faerie Tales, while the books are all connected this could be read as a stand alone novel. A long time ago, about 2004/5, I read the first book in the series called Tithe. I remember really loving it but that it also gave me serious shivers up my spine! Tithe and Valiant both lean more towards the ‘adult’ half of the young adult genre in some of their themes so if you aren’t comfortable with that I’d approach with caution.
This book is supposed to be a modern ‘Beauty and the Beast’ type story, the themes are definitely there and I think it achieves this well without getting too bogged down in the details.
When 17-year-old Valerie Russell runs away to New York City, she’s trying to escape a life that has utterly betrayed her. Sporting a new identity, she takes up with a gang of squatters who live in the city’s labyrinthine subway system. But there’s something eerily beguiling about Val’s new friends. Impulsive Lolli talks of monsters in the subway tunnels they call home and shoots up a shimmery amber-coloured powder that makes the shadows around her dance. Severe Luis claims he can make deals with creatures that no one else can see. And then there’s Luis’s brother, Dave, who makes the mistake of letting Val tag along as he makes a delivery to a woman who turns out to have goat hooves instead of feet. When a bewildered Val allows Lolli to talk her into tracking down the hidden lair of the creature for whom Luis and Dave have been working, Val finds herself bound into service by a troll named Ravus. He is as hideous as he is honourable, and as Val grows to know him, she finds herself torn between affection for him – and fear of what her new friends are becoming because of him.
- The really long blurb from ‘Valiant’
What I love about this book, and Tithe too, is Holly Black’s ability to write about teen issues like sex and drug abuse without being patronising or preachy. Her honest approach to the things many teens deal with is seriously refreshing, there are far too many books out there that aren’t nearly so candid when it comes to these kinds of real life situations that are neither glamourous nor ideal. I was also so happy that revisiting this series after so long, and with such fond memories of Tithe, it did not disappoint. I was just as enthralled by this world as I was the first time, and still equally as creeped out despite being 9 years older now! Valiant gave me quite a few shivers down my spine and definitely made me feel disturbed and uneasy thanks to Holly Black’s amazing prose. I got quite invested in the central romance of the novel too, to my surprise, I was really rooting for them by the end!
The third book in this series, Ironside, arrived in the post today and I’m so excited to read it!
To Buy, Borrow or Bin?: Buy!
Favourite Quote: About humans – ‘Gone in one faerie sigh’ (P.176)