Reviewed in the United States on November 16, 2014
This is not my first book of Holly black and it's not the only one about fairies (The most famous of her is The Spiderwick Chronicles series which also turn to a movie.)But every time I find myself anew felling under her spell and for her incredible writing talent.
And I don't think that it is a kind of dark fairy tale like many reviewers claim, because any dealing with fairies is dark and risky. There are not such good faeries (the kind of Disney fairies) and in this meaning Holly give us a true feeling. Now I do some background
You see! A shallow googeling about faeries you will give you the next -
The most common theme describes them as a race who had been driven into hiding by invading humans, were they believed to live in an Otherworld like existing underground, in hidden hills (many of which were ancient burial mounds. Another common feature is the their use of magic to disguise appearance a glamor.
Much of the folklore about fairies revolves around protection from their mischief and malice. Most of their descriptions consist of two distinguished kinds of them: One of, radiant, angelic beings and the other of, wizened ugly, monsters beings two of the commonly mentioned forms. Both of them of Immortals being that have magical powers.
The most prominent categories, derived from Scottish folklore, are the division into the Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court and they are further divided into the Trooping Fairies (appearing in splendid processions) and the Solitary Fairies (mischievous spirits appearing on their own.
The Seelie court are known to seek help from humans, to warn those who had accidentally offended them, and to return human kindness with favors of their own. Other names for the Seelie court are 'The Shining Thron' or 'The Golden ones' and 'The light Court'. Still, Light fairies are known for playing pranks on humans and having a light hearted attitude, forgetting their sorrows quickly and not realizing how they might be affecting the humans they play pranks on.
The Unseelie Court or the "dark court" consists of the darkly-inclined fairies. Unlike the Seelie Court, no offense is necessary to bring down their assaults. As a group (or "host"), they appear at night and assault travelers, often carrying them through the air, beating them, and forcing them to commit such acts as shooting at cattle. Like the beings of the Seelie Court who are not always benevolent, neither are the fairies of the Unseelie Court always malevolent. Most Unseelies can become fond of a particular human if they are viewed as respectful, and would choose to make them something of a pet. Some of the most common characters in the Unseelie Court are Bogies, Bogles, Boggarts, Abbey Lubbers and Buttery Spirits.
Both of them love riddles. Both of them can enthrall you, bestow you a good or bad luck and curse you. Both of them can't lie ( they can stretch the true of manipulate it but can't lie). It is also believed that knowing the true the name of a particular fairy can give you a power over him and you could summon it and force it to do your bidding.
Fairy gold is notoriously unreliable, appearing as gold when paid but soon thereafter revealing itself to be leaves, gorse blossoms, gingerbread cakes, or a variety of other comparatively worthless things.
For a protection you should use cold iron (iron is like poison to fairies, and they will not go near it) or charms of rowan and herbs, or avoiding offense by shunning locations known to be theirs. Also wearing clothing inside out(will make you invisible to them), running water, bells,Bread and salt and in any case you should not eat their food. Fresh running water will prevent them from following you. and delf-bored stones will let you see through their glamor.
A considerable amount of lore about fairies revolves around changelings, fairy children left in the place of stolen human babies and abducting older people as well that are very talented in art like music or poetry or they are incredibly young and handsome.
And now to the plot-
the book follows the story of sixteen-year-old American Kaye Fierch, a young nomad who tours the country with her mother's rock band. The book begins in Philadelphia, at a gig her mother's band Stepping Razor is playing in a seedy bar in Philadelphia. After her mother's boyfriend and guitarist, Lloyd, attempts to stab her mother under the enchantment of Nephamael (a knight of the Unseelie Court) her mother takes her back to Kaye's grandmother's house in New Jersey to stay.
Once at her grandmother's house, Kaye begins to look for her old "imaginary" friends she had during her childhood, faeries named Lutie-Loo, Spike, and Gristle. However, she fails to find them and, begins to suspect that they were simply figments of her imagination. Her suspicions dissolve when she finds and saves the life of Roiben, a faerie knight, by pulling an iron-tipped arrow from his chest. In return, he grants her three truthfully answered questions about anything she chooses, which she does not immediately use. Soon after this, Spike and Lutie-Loo contact her and warn her that Roiben is a murderer who has killed Gristle. As revenge, Kaye tricks Roiben into telling her his full name (she later learns that faeries can be controlled by their true names).
Later on, her friends tell her that she is a changeling and that she should keep her human appearance, because the Unseelie Court wishes to use her as a "Tithe" in order to bind the Solitary Fey to the Court's queen, Nicnevin. Since Kaye is not mortal, the ritual will be forfeit, and the fey whom the Unseelie Court wishes to bind will go free. Kaye attempts to control her newfound abilities by enlisting the help of a Kelpie to teach her how to use magic. She is soon kidnapped by a group of fairies, as planned and is taken to the Unseelie Court to go through the sacrificial ceremony. Before the ceremony Roiben takes her to be prepared, having a dress made for her and allowing her to stay with him the night, where they acknowledge their feelings for one another. At the climax of the ceremony, Kaye uses Roiben's name to order him to free her from her bonds before she is killed, resulting in a bloodbath between Roiben and the court before they flee safely. In the process, he kills the queen of the Unseelie Court and many of her guards.
Kaye and Roiben spend the day at Kaye's home, and discover that strange events are affecting the mortal world. Odd reports of mauling and kidnappings are reported on the news and Roiben makes Kaye understand that this is a result of the solitary fey being free for the next seven years. Kaye receives a call from her friend Janet, inviting her to come to a Halloween rave held at the waterfront, she tries to persuade her not to go but fails. After a failed attempt to receive help from her "imaginary" faerie friends, Roiben and Kaye attend the rave. They are separated, and Kaye successfully locates her friends, but briefly leaves them to apologize to Janet's boyfriend for bewitching him earlier in the novel. However, she finds that the kelpie who lives near the waterfront has taken Janet into the water to kill her. In the novel, it is suggested that Janet went with him out of loneliness and a desire to get revenge on her boyfriend for going off with Kaye. Kaye follows but is too late and she manages to convince the kelpie to relinquish her body. Roiben finds Kaye mourning for her friend and gets her home.
The next morning, she and Roiben travel to the Seelie Court's camp some distance away to see if Corny is there. They reach a dead end, but discover that the knight (Nephamael) has proclaimed himself the king of the Unseelie Court. Roiben is suspicious of the situation and thinks that it is a trap for Kaye and him. Later, Roiben's suspicions are proved correct when they enter the Unseelie Court. Nephamael, who had discovered Roiben's true name from Spike before killing him, uses it to take control over Roiben. He orders him to seize Kaye, but Roiben uses trickery to let her get away. Kaye then devises a plan to poison Nephamael, while Corny and Roiben amuse him. She goes through with it; however, before Nephamael is dead, the Seelie Queen arrives, hoping to take over the court (right after her arrival Corny goes insane and stabs Nephamael multiple times, ultimately killing him). Roiben prevents the Queen's takeover attempt by claiming the throne as his
The Characters of the book (each one is a great characters):
Kaye Fierch - Kaye is the headstrong and independent protagonist of Tithe. She is secretly a changeling put in place of the real Kaye Fierch who resides in the Bright Court with Lady Silarial, though she herself is unaware of this until two thirds through the novel. She is intelligent, mature and full of guile but sometimes naive.
Ellen Fierch - Kaye's mother. A struggling rock singer, she tours the country with her rock band, Stepping Razor, until an attack by Nephamael in the form of a controlled Lloyd forces her to move back in with her own mother temporarily. Fiery sprited but caring, she is more of a friend to Kaye than a parental figure.
Roiben (Rath Roiben Rye) - A noble Seelie knight traded to the Unseelie Queen before the beginning of the novel as part of a truce agreement between the courts. He is a strong fighter and feared by many. He has a strong attraction to Kaye for reasons he does not initially understand. He is one of the main supporting characters along with Corny. Inwardly hating the cruelty he is forced to perform for his new Queen, he thus harbours deep feelings of self-loathing and self-despair.
Corny (Cornelius Stone) - Janet's older brother. He is quite antisocial and even entertains murderous fantasies, but he ends up bonding with Kaye. Along with Roiben, he is one of the main supporting characters. He is a computer geek who loves comic books and manga - yaoi in particular. He is gay and out to his sister and family, and comes out early on to Kaye. He enthusiastically helps Kaye when she discovers her faerie nature, but he is eventually seduced, enchanted, and captured by Nephamael who makes him his lover and slave. Corny seems to have a taste for submission and a certain level of pain, but he gets more than he bargained for with Nephamael.
Janet Stone - Corny's younger sister and Kaye's best friend since elementary school. Suspects Kaye of flirting with Kenny, as Kenny is mentioned flirting with numerous girls in the novel. She is oblivious to her friend and brother's faerie dealings. Later on in the plot a kelpie drowns her during a rave that Kaye and Roiben attend. Kay tries to save her but is unable to.
Lutie-Loo - One of Kaye's faerie friends from childhood. She is the classic 'Tinkerbell', being only as few inches high with cornsilk hair and wings.
Spike - One of Kaye's faerie friends from childhood. Harbours strong dislike and distrust of Roiben. He is killed by Nephamael towards the end of the novel after giving him information in the hopes of gaining his favour.
Gristle-The last of Kaye's faerie friends from childhood. He is killed by Roiben during a 'fox hunt' after stealing cakes from the Unseelie Court and does not appear in the novel.
Nephamael - Initially a knight of the Unseelie court, he is traded for Roiben as part of the Queen's truce. He hates his new "home" and delights in taking the throne of the Night Court for himself at the end of the novel. He is cruel, manipulating and ruthless, and takes great pleasure in toying with humans and lesser faeries, especially when he meets Corny, whom he makes his pet. He ultimately pays the price for his cruelty, slain by Corny in a fit of murderous insanity whilst under the influence of magic.
Silarial - The Seelie Queen, sister to Nicnevin and Roiben's former mistress. It is believed she orchestrated the whole plot to kill Kaye and free the solitary fey.
Nicnevin - The Unseelie Queen, sister to Silarial. Beautiful as she is evil, she passes her days plotting against the Seelie kingdom and amusing herself and her subjects with cruel pastimes. She selects Kaye for the Tithe in order to gain control of the Soitary Fey, though the sacrifice is interrupted by Kaye taking control of Roiben during the ceremony. She is slain by Roiben during ensuing chaos.
Kenny - Janet's boyfriend, he becomes attracted to Kaye because she unwittingly enchanted him.
The Kelpie - A murderous waterhorse and one of the Solitary Fey, who teaches Kaye magic and how to make a glamor in return for a carousel horse companion. He kills Janet later in the novel, luring her away from a party on the Pier.