Like many tales that take place in the realm of the fae, Tithe (as the name would suggest) is a story about a girl in the human world who finds out that she has been chosen as a sort of sacrifice for the faeries. This is a pretty common story, a good one is Hunter’s Moon by Melling if you’re unfamiliar with the genre (and I’ve already done a post on it which you can see here), but Black takes this story and gives it a nice little twist.
Here’s a quick intro. The story begins with a teenage girl named Kaye who travels around with her rock star mother. She should be in high school but because of all of the moving around her mother has to do, what with being a starving artist, Kaye finds her time better spent working. She has no father to speak of, as she is the product of a one night stand her mother had with a popular Japanese rock star and her mother h been jumping from boyfriend to boyfriend since. After an inexplicable attack on Kaye’s mother by her current boyfriend, she and Kaye return to Kaye’s grandmother’s house, where Kaye lived when she was young. Kaye used to have what people around her would call imaginary friends whom she would talk about all the time, but no one else have ever or could ever see. She also had a school friend when she was a child, Janet, and goes out with her and her friends after she and her mother have settled in. After an odd incident involving an old carnival horse, Kaye runs away from the gathering into the woods, and to add to her current state, she stumbles upon a knight bleeding to death because of an arrow in his side. The knight takes a leaf and smears it with his blood and asks Kaye to put it in the water nearby. She does this in exchange for the night’s name. When she puts the leaf in the water it summons a kelpie who takes the knight away. After some soul-searching and some conversations with some old friends, Kaye discovers that she is not as human as she seems. That she is in fact a changeling, and there are those who would like to put that information to use.
I enjoyed this novel. I’ve seen it around for some time but avoided picking it up because I thought it would be like the new syrupy, poorly written, weak-willed heroine in love with two guys at once, who can’t stand up for herself or think for herself trend that seems to be popular with teen books right now in regards to the paranormal genre. I am however happy to report that it is more like The Blue Girl by De Lint than Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. It’s an urban faerie tale with echoes of stories past, but changed enough to make it new again. I don’t know that I agree with all of the changes or slants given to how the faerie world works… in fact I would have preferred that she make the faerie realm more dangerous. This is a teen novel. It doesn’t have to be full of gore or indecency or anything (I mean it is still a teen novel), but I personally would have enjoyed it if there was a little more of the danger I usually associate with the fae. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty suggested evil doings in the unseelie court, but the faerie food, for example, wasn’t as bad as older tales describe it. There is none of the pining away until you die or other bad side effects the food may have on mortals, it just knocks you out or gets you drunk for a while. Kind of softening the blow of the danger of faerie. Overall though it’s a pretty good book.
Here’s the author’s website http://www.blackholly.com/index.html