Tithe — Holly Black

June 8, 2018

Tithe (The Modern Faerie Tales, #1)

TITLE: Tithe
AUTHOR: Holly Black
SERIES: Modern Faerie Tales, #1
RELEASED: October, 2002; Simon & Schuster
GENRE: Fantasy
SYNOPSIS: Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms – a struggle that could very well mean her death.


Holly Black’s writing was my first introduction to fae fiction; as a kid, I was obsessed with all sorts of fae mythology, but typically was limited to nonfiction until the first time I saw Tithe on the “new” shelf at my library. I must have checked this book out and reread it four or five times within the first couple of years, but this was my first reread since I was a preteen, and I had no idea what to expect!


If curiosity killed the cat, it was satisfaction that brought it back.

I had forgotten so much of the plot in this book, and the first thing that surprised me upon rereading it was actually how problematic some of the writing is! If you’re a newer fan of Holly’s and haven’t read her old work, here’s your warning: this book involves racist remarks, homophobic slurs, attempted sexual assault, and some potentially sleazy romance dynamics, most of this going entirely unchallenged as the story unfolds. After one character tries to assault the protagonist, there are even one or two instances in which she talks about feeling flattered by his refusal to take “no” for an answer.

“And if I said nothing at all?”
“Then I would point out that sometimes, if you look at something out of the corner of your eye, you can see right through glamour.”

On a more positive note, I had also forgotten how totally addicting the storyline is, how fun and gothic the aesthetic feels, and how lovable Roiben is. While I stand by the fact that the blossoming romance has potential to be problematic, it genuinely doesn’t feel as though Kaye is taking advantage of him with her power over his name. Everything comes across as fully consensual, albeit quite a bit rushed and insta-lovey.

“I am your servant,” the King of the Unseelie Court said, his lips a moment from her own. “Consider it done.”

More than anything, though, I just love the way Holly crafts her fae worlds. Unlike most of today’s popular fae writers, she stays true to the old folklore in many prominent fashions, and my favorite aspect of that is the way she weaves in different types of feyfolk (like sprites, pixies, kelpies, etc.). I have always said that I think Holly is almost singlehandedly responsible for the world of fae YA fiction that so many of us now know and love, and after reading Tithe, despite its imperfections, I adamantly stand by that belief.



More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

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    1. This is exactly what I’ve been wanting to do! I read this book YEARS ago when I was a little middle-schooler and loved this series. Holly Black and these books are the reason I love fae fantasy as much as I do today and I completely agree about her being almost singlehandedly responsible for YA fae fiction. But it’s been so long I barely remember them. I’ve been wanting to reread the series! All I really remember is that I was completely infatuated with Roiben. Lol. Great review!!

      1. I love this whole comment haha! Thank you, Loretta! I definitely remember crushing hard on Roiben, too, and I won’t lie, I fell for him a little bit all over again when rereading this! Holly is just a genius and a mastermind.

    1. I hate admitting to people but as much as I love the fae and fantasy, I failed to connect with The Cruel Prince (I know I am the odd one out). But I wonder if I should attempt her again. Do you possibly have a rec if I were to try her work again? ?

      1. Noooo, don’t feel bad about that! I definitely can see how The Cruel Prince wouldn’t have been for everyone. I gave it 5 stars, but I’ll be honest, when I look back on it, it was a “low” 5-star rating for me, if that makes sense, because no matter how much I love Holly’s writing, I had some serious issues with that one. That said, unfortunately the only things I’ve read by her recently enough to speak for are Tithe and TCP, but I hear that The Darkest Part of the Forest is the favorite of a LOT of readers when it comes to her fae books, so maybe that one? All I know is that it has an m/m romance in it!

        1. Hmmm, maybe The Darkest Part then. Although Tithe originally caught my interest. But I feel I will have some issues with it as well. I just want to attempt at least one more before writing her off as an author I enjoy 😉

    1. I have been meaning to read more of Holly Black’s books, despite her title of “Queen of Fae” I haven’t read any of her Fae books??? But yet it was her being called the queen of fae that made me want to read her books??
      I read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. I really liked it and really want to read more of her books!
      Considering I just finished the ACOTAR series (including ACOFAS) I really need more fae books in my life right now XD I may give this one a go.
      Happy Reading!

      1. Hahaha, that’s awesome, Lin! Well, besides having read Tithe years ago, Coldest Girl was almost my first read by her in years – I was gonna pick it up last year, but ended up putting it off and then the next thing I knew, Cruel Prince came out and I read that one right away instead. I still need to read Coldest Girl!
        Ooooh, the ACOTAR series… be still, my heart, lol. Have you read the Throne of Glass series by her? It has fae, too! I also really loved An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson, but that one gets VERY mixed reviews, so I always tell people to take it with a grain of salt when I recommend it, lol. It was one of my favorite books of 2017 but I’ve come to accept that I’m the odd one out on that one.

        1. I still haven’t gotten to Cruel Prince yet *hides*
          OOOO But Coldest Girl is pretty darn good, so I’m excited to read it!
          *deep sigh of sadness* Yes I have read Throne of Glass and every time I think about the last book coming out in October I cry a little because that’s pretty far away… I don’t think I’m ready for the pain, I need to re-read them I think. Closer to the release day. So I don’t spend months crying about needing that last book Like I did last year XD
          I’ve been meaning to pick up An Enchantment of Ravens! I’ve heard about the mixed reviews thing to. That the writing was good but plot disappointing. I’m still excited to read it regardless (because I may or may not be addicted to fae books O.O). Even more so since you love it! 😀

          1. Haha no need to hide! To be fair, TCP ends on kind of a cliffhanger, so if you wanted to wait until closer to The Wicked King’s release, I don’t think ANYONE would blame you!
            Awwww, nooooo haha! I just started Throne of Glass in December of last year. I’m super late to the party but I wanted to wait until close enough to the finale’s release that I wouldn’t have to wait long. I just finished Crown of Midnight a few days ago and adored it – solid 5 stars from me. I also loved The Assassin’s Blade – TOG itself, though, I gave 3.5 rounded up to 4, lol.
            Aw, I hope you like it! I think the problem with the plot is that the book is so short, but what sucks about that is that I believe the author has mentioned that she was given a page limit by the publishers, so she wasn’t really given much room to run with! I know she’s working on her second book right now, though, and while I’m so sad that it isn’t a sequel or anything to AEOR, I’m hoping it will be longer and she’ll get the chance to prove herself to the people who disliked AEOR!

            1. I might do just that! Cliffhangers (especially ones that rip out your heart and stomp all over it ; _ 😉 always get to me sometimes. Even if I have the next book in the series. If I finish that book I’m like, “Why? How could you do this to me book?” Then there’s tears, but then I jump into the next one XD
              OOOOOO, WAIT TILL HEIR OF FIRE!!!!! Heir of Fire is my personal Fave of the series, although I adored all the others too. I actually haven’t read The Assassins Blade yet. I Plan too, but I’ve seen reviews telling me it’s sad… but I mean….. SJM seems to make me cry one way or another soooo I don’t see why I’d be surprised XD
              I always feel like authors get better at writing. Even though it seems the same? There’s just something about that second book that just feels better, maybe it’s because they have built up some confidence?? I hope she proves herself worthy of all the love that she rightfully deserves!!

            1. Haha I feel you! One series that did that for me was the Shades of Magic series, which I’m about 100 pages from finishing the finale of – the cliffhanger at the end of book 2 made me literally RUN across my house, CRYING, to grab the third book and see what happened next lmao.
              Ooooh, yay! I’m hoping to start HOF this week. I hear a lot of people say it’s their favorite of the series so I am VERY excited! ♥

    1. I’ve heard how Holly Black is the queen of faerie in YA, but I’ve only read one of her book to made that judgement… I think that’s the case of many authors, I’ve been doing some rereads on my old favorite and keep finding problematic parts that were normal and unchallenged years back. I’m glad they all grow and be better at writing! 🙂

      1. Yeah, she definitely gets that nickname honestly, in my opinion! She isn’t my FAE-vorite… ha, see what I did there… omg I’m so sorry lol. ANYWAYS. She isn’t my favorite, but I give her props for being so innovative when she first started writing. And yeah, it is hard to reread old favorites and see that stuff! But like you said, it’s awesome when you can actually see how far they’ve come. ♥

    1. I haven’t read this book, is it worth pushing through all the problematic stuff and giving it a a go? Especially as you said it was one if the first YA Fea stories and I do love Fae stories.

      1. If you love fae stories, I absolutely do think it’s worth pushing through! The worst of the problematic content happens in the first 20% or so of the book, and after that, there isn’t as much, and what is there is more subtle, I think. And overall, it is a really fun read and it’s very interesting to see how YA fae stories kind of got their beginning as opposed to what they tend to be like nowadays!

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