An interesting mix of reality and fairytale,
This review is from: Valiant (Modern Tale of Faerie) (Paperback)
I wasn't sure if I was going to like this novel at first. Val running away from home and immediately taking up with alternative street kids seemed a little too cliché for me. Also, the life Val slips into, sleeping in the New York City sewers, is so filthy and squalid that I found it pretty unpleasant to imagine.
However, I was intrigued by the glimpses I was getting of the magical world beneath the surface and where the story finally got me was when Ravus was introduced. I thought the haunted troll, banished from the Seelie Court, was a great character and I totally bought Val's feelings for him. Pairings either work for me or they don't and this one just worked for me. The blurb describes it as Beauty and the Beast and that description works if you think of Val as the beast - she's the pissed-off one who wants to fight back at the world and Ravus is the one who calms her and loves her, flaws and all.
The fairy-tale details that Holly Black decorates this story with are just beautiful to picture (presumably the squalor of the sewer-life is done deliberately to contrast with this). Ravus tells Val about his past by creating images from the smoke of a candle, there's a harp that's strung with strands of hair from the dead, and their ethereal voices can be heard when a strand is plucked. These were my favourite moments in the book; gorgeous and heart-breaking.
The plot kicks into high gear in the last 100 pages and it was then that I found I couldn't put the book down until I finished. And I got an ending I liked - it's not too prettily tied up and there are consequences for the characters, but it was happy enough to leave me with a smile on my face.