Valiant by Holly Black | Review
Series: Modern Faerie Tales #2
Author: Holly Black
Genre/s: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Date Read: 19th Nov 2019
Date Published: 2002
Format Read: Audio and Paperback
Valiant follows a different set of primary characters than the first book in the Modern Faerie Tales series, with a new character Val taking the spot as the protagonist in this instalment. Upon the beginning of the novel Val sets off to meet her boyfriend for a date however quickly noticing he is late to meet her. From there things take a turn for the worst and she begins a complex journey of self discovery, and stumbles on a set of curious people who haven't had the best luck. With a sprinkle of the Faerie lore we came to know in 'Tithe' being developed along the way, and Holly Black's signature addictive writing..
This book definitely wasn't as magical or focused on the realm of Faerie as the first in the series, there are many links but most areas that the two worlds cross over are set in the human world. This made the story and the protagonist Val much easier to relate to and also understand her decisions.
Although there are a different set of main characters in Valiant than in Tithe, there are a few crossovers towards the end and we see a glimpse into what is going on with Robien and Kaye. I was glad to see a slight crossover because as a whole this book kind of felt out of place. I feel as though it doesn't really fit as a part of this series especially since I've heard the final book goes back to the original characters in Tithe. However I hope there is more crossover between the both in the final book because that would definitely help.
“As Val jumped down onto the litter-strewn concrete after them, she thought how insane it was to follow two people she didn't know into the bowels of the subway, but instead of being afraid, she felt glad. She would make all her own decisions now, even if they were ruinous ones. It was the same pleasurable feeling as tearing a piece of paper into tiny, tiny pieces.”
I have a lot of emotions about this book. I found that I either loved what was happening or hated what was happening. Nothing was middle ground and I feel kind of odd giving it a three star rating because of it. I loved the dark nitty grittiness of the story and the main character Val; but at the same time I think a lot of things that were being focused on would’ve worked better if they were more like underlying themes and less at the forefront of the book. I needed more faeries and magic, don’t get me wrong it was there but I feel as though the plot could’ve delved deeper.
“You carried my heart in your hands tonight," he said. "But I have felt as if you carried it long before that.”
There is also a scene with a kitten that disappointed me and gave me the worst kind of feeling, so beware going in if you are sensitive to animal deaths and abuse like I am. I feel as though it was a shock factor type of move and it didn’t need to happen. (If you have the new bind up, it’s on page 409. I wish I had known the page number so I could skip it so I’ll leave it here just in case.)
“She'd always been a little contemptuous of beauty, as though it was something you had to trade away some other vital thing for.”
While reading this I also listened to the audiobook alongside and noticed quite a few things were changed in the newly published bind up of The Modern Faerie Tales. In a lot of cases this was definitely necessary because there is quite a lot of slang and phrases used towards the beginning of the book that are definitely outdated and could possibly be found offensive, but in the new edition this was corrected. However in addition to this some hints and tidbits were added to tie in with the newer 'The Folk of The Air' series that weren’t there originally. I’m not sure if it’s just me but this kind of felt like a cheat. There are characters that cross over anyway and work to link the two series so why feel the need to name drop other things too? I see how this could enhance the story if you’ve read the other series then gone back to read this one. But knowing it wasn’t a part of the story originally is weird.
“Everything was strange and beautiful and swollen with possibilities.”
As a whole I did find this book more entertaining and just more gripping overall than Tithe. But I’m confused as to my feelings. I can say that I loved the magic and dark places the story delves into. Holly Black’s writing is intoxicatingly addictive, so even though I didn’t love everything about this story I can still say that Black is a favourite author of mine and I love the way she writes.
“Dead or not, I have come for his heart and I will have it.”
Thank you for reading!
- Sophie Elaina