Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Valiant by Holly Black


Val had a regular life – she did well in school and in sports, she had a good boyfriend, and they were making plans to go to college together. But it all changes when she comes home to find him in a compromising situation. She leaves home, her brain entering in auto-pilot, doing what she had planed to – go to New York and watch the hockey game. But when the night is over she meets Lolli and Dave, who show her a different world than she is used to.

Valiant is not exactly a continuation to Tithe – there are some cameos of previous characters, and slight nods to the story, but this book is pretty much about Val, and could be read independently of Tithe. But the theme is the same; there are faeries and a certain darkness and grittiness to it.

I liked this book, even more than Tithe. I was actually surprised by this – Tithe had been a good book, but not exactly mindblowing. But Valiant benefited from me not being so easily shocked now – when I read Tithe I certainly wasn’t expecting some attitudes and ideas to be present in a YA book, but this time I knew better than to assume anything.

To Holly Black, just because it’s YA it doesn’t mean it has to be sugarcoated. Valiant shows kids in a place no parent would like to see them in, but the truth is it happens (sans faeries, I suppose). There is despair, there is anger, there passiveness. But it isn’t overly angsty – there are quite a few funny parts, and they are not just for comic relief.

Midway through the book it seemed to me it would turn into a Beauty and the Beast kind of story, and while there are some elements of it, it is not important. The story is devoted to Val, her new-found friends and the faeries.

The pages flew by, and no matter how sleepy I was, I wanted more. I really liked how it wasn’t about the romance; it was about Val and the other kids, and about the mystery. Sure, it was easy to figure out who the culprit was, but it was not so blatant that it would make my eyes rolls at the characters for not figuring it out.

I really liked the characters, and especially Val – I didn’t feel she was the typical kickass heroine, but she wasn’t meek or weak either. She had her own strength, but was pretty much a normal kid.

Valiant is a very good book, and now I really want to read Ironside, and everything else by Holly Black. What sold it to me might not appeal to all readers – dark fairytales and alternative lifestyles are something that I enjoy; but if it doesn’t squick you, do give this book a try.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Other Reviews: Everything To Do With Books | Fyrefly's Book Blog

This book on: LibraryThing | Goodreads | Bookdepository UK | Bookdepository US | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Gam.co


  1. Darn, I have to read the rest of the books by Holly Black I have here. I've read Tithe years ago, so I don't remember everything, but I liked the concept (I think her skin starts to peel of and she's green or something, right?). I have both Valiant and Ironside, plus White Cat. Pity I'm not in a reading mood, I'm afraid I'm not gonna like them as much as I probably would if I wasn't in this weird mood. *sigh*

  2. (Yep, "her skin" comes off and underneath her real skin is green, because she is a pixie)

    So bad you're not in a reading mood - I hate when it happens. Just try to re-read a book you love, something easy and fluffy - it might fix it :D

  3. I've been wanting to read something by Holly Black for a while now, but I'm always put off when I see so many editions of Tithe on Book Depository, as I'd like to have the same edition for the 3 books. :| I guess I should start with White Cat. (The UK one, as I like much more the reddish cover.)

  4. You're really into this author, aren't you? It's so good to find a new favorite writer -yay to that! :D

  5. @p7 That's the problem with this series, there are at least 4 different covers for each book :S I managed to get Valiant with the same cover style as Tithe, but the edition of Tithe that I bought was supposed to be another one - the butterfly one, and not the green one.

    I also want to read White Cat, but I still have to buy that one.

    Yep, she writes well, and she knows her faeries, so I'm happy. And the only books that my little cousin reads are co-authored by her (although I think that has more to do with the DiTerlizzi illustrations) - the Spiderwick books.

  6. Quigui, you're right, reading something fluffy helps. I'm re-reading the Hana-Kimi manga books and re-watching the series. I've been laughing so much.

    I have the old covers for the Modern Faerie Tales series because I got Tithe and Valiant from Bookmooch. Ironside I bought at FNAC I think and it's the same style of cover as the other two but the book's bigger. So it's in a different shelf, as I order my books by size (I'm weird, lol). *blushes* *realizes she's been ranting*

  7. -rambling. (And now spamming). :p