Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Valiant by Holly Black

(The Modern Faerie Tales #2)
by Holly Black
Summary from Goodreads:

"When seventeen-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-colored 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, timid and sensitive 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 dealing, Val finds herself bound into service by a troll named Ravus. He is as hideous as he is honorable. And as Val grows to know him, she finds herself torn between her affection for an honorable monster and her fear of what her new friends are becoming. 

Bestselling author Holly Black follows her breakout debut, Tithe, with a rich, harrowing, and compulsively readable parable of betrayal, abuse, friendship, and love."


Valiant, the second book from Holly Black’s “Modern Faerie Tales” series, starts of after Roiben, from Tithe, became King of the Unseelie Court. But the story isn’t about the characters from Tithe; it opens us to the life of Valerie, a human who basically falls in love with a faerie – a troll to be exact. 

Valiant reminds me of the well-known tale of “Beauty and the Beast”, somehow told in a dark, profane, rebellious world; although, there was a part that the tale was more like “Beast and the Beast” since Val shaved off her head and wasn’t pretty at the moment. 

The characters of Valiant, I found, are far more interesting than Tithe. Val was a typical teenager who gets screwed on by her boyfriend over her mom. She grew throughout the book and the word “Valiant” truly fits her, she was braving, noble, and had gone through a nightmare just for love. Ravus was unique. When I heard of trolls, I immediately thought big bellied, slimy, disgusting creatures; but Ravus wasn’t. He was a typical faerie, green and fanged; but not disgusting. Luis is a devoted brother. Dave is a Never-drug junkee and Lolli a crazy freak. 

The plot was somehow slow-paced. More than half of the book showed the deprived life of street kids living by the train tracks, getting high on Never (similar to drugs) – a bit alarming for teenagers to read, yes. Nevertheless, when everything unravelled, I enjoyed the simple adventure. 

I’m beginning to understand Black’s writing style with this book. I guess I’m somehow used to reading vividly descriptive writing so reading one that expresses more on a conversational method was a bit confusing. 

Overall, the book is pretty good. It’s not ground-breaking, or full action-packed but enjoyable, intriguing and exciting. 

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