Valiant (Modern Tale of Faerie) Paperback – 3 Jul 2006
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"This is a powerful book.... I love it when a girl learns how to be Valiant." -- Tamora Pierce, author of the "Immortals" and "Song of the Lioness" quartets "An edgy but ultimately life-affirming read." -- "Horn Book Guide" "Intoxicating." -- "Booklist" "Exciting." -- "Publishers Weekly"
About the Author
Holly Black spent her early years in a decaying Victorian mansion where her mother fed her a steady diet of ghost stories and faerie tales. An avid collector of rare folklore volumes, spooky dolls, and crazy hats, she lives in West Long Branch, New Jersey, with her husband, Theo. Together with illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi, she is the creator of the bestselling Spiderwick Chronicles series of children's books.
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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.
This could be considered a continuation of her previous book, "Tithe". I consider "Tithe" a better book than this one, but probably better suited for younger readers.
For the young reader, this is a brutal book. I agree with the advisory warning on the back of the book. I realize that many young readers are well immersed in the world of fantasy, and not necessarily the jolly kind. They will most likely not be affected a great deal by this story. Children who are not used to rougher content (in this book - frightening scenes), should probably stay away from "Valiant". Older children, teenagers and adults would most likely be the ones who would benefit the most from reading "Valiant".
Valerie (or Valiant) is a teenager going through a rough phase in her life. The faeries are part of her transition to adulthood, and many of her experiences are brutal. She discovers the dark side of life in a manner she had not previously expected. That along with her disappointment in her mother and boyfriend is almost enough to undo her.
Enjoy! I certainly did.
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