It's bad enough to know that your mom was a faery, and that she faked her own death. But for Rue Silver, this is only one of many problems that crop up in "Kith," the second volume of Holly Black's Good Neighbors trilogy -- there's also the slowly encroaching world of the fae, her ruthless grandfather, and her splintering gang of friends. This graphic novel suffers from a bit of "middle book syndrome," but its horrific undertones keep it interesting.
Rue is understandably worried. Not only is her fey mom alive and somewhere else, but her boyfriend Dale has become strangely distant (and we soon see why), her little gang is splintering, and faery creatures are still appearing on behalf of her granddad Aubrey. Then Birch and Tam bring news of a bigger problem that Aubrey has created -- he's starting to cordon off the city, and intends to cast a spell that will make it unfindable to the human world.
And one night she's drawn into a faery realm by the shadow of her mother, showing her the first glimpse of this strange and addictive world of dancing, magic and eerie heartlessness. But Rue hasn't forgotten her cruel grandfather's scheme, or the terrible things that are happening to her friends -- including one who has been transformed into a tree. And as the time of Aubrey's plan approaches, Rue finds that she may be
If "Kin" was all about Rue discovering her half-fae nature, then "Kith" is all about Rue struggling with the two halves of herself -- the wild dark fey half, and the more rational human half which knows that what her grandfather is doing is horrible. Aside from that, Holly Black's focus is definitely more on the encroaching world of faeries than on Rue's human life -- her eerie mother, the world "under the hill" and haunted forests with nymph-infested pools.
The tone also becomes far darker in this story: shadowy caverns, ghastly grinning monsters, Tam Lin's sorrowful backstory, a girl whose heart is full of vines and leaves, and Aubrey's plan for the human world. And Black's dialogue blends together the mundane teenspeak and the otherworldly voice of the faeries ("My lady, I see your shadow has found you. And something else has found you, betimes"). The only real problem that the plot is rather scattered in focus until the climax -- a common problem in "middle books."
And Ted Naifeh's artwork suits the story as well -- pretty realistic faces and bodies, but with spiky fingers, shadowy forests, and creatures that are just a little inhuman (Nia's glinting empty eyes and wide smile).
Rue is a likable heroine with a common fantasy problem: she's half fae and half human, and so obviously she's feeling a tug'o'war between the two worlds. On the one hand she obviously loves the beauty and magic of the fae world, but her human conscience can't condone what they're doing (and longs for her family to reunite). And she's struggling with problems afflicting her "kith" -- romantic cheating, faerie pendants, and a friend whose transformation leads to a horrific change.
"The Good Neighbors: Kith" has a bit of middle-book syndrome, but flowers slowly even as the storyline becomes darker. And what comes next from Holly Black ought to be interesting.
I have been anticipating this book for more than a year, since I read book one, Kin. Now to be honest, I am not a huge graphic novel reader. I can count on one hand how many I have read in the last decade, but this book I could not wait for and the next year, until book three comes out, is going to seem to last forever.
Graphix is the graphic novel arm of Scholastic press, most famous for Jeff Smith's Bone. This book is the second in a trilogy from Holly Black, one of the authors of the Spiderwick Chronicles. The series called The Good Neighbors began with Kin last fall, and continues this year with Kith. This is an incredible graphic novel. The story that started strong and compelling in book one, becomes even better in this follow-up story. The characters are enticing and draw the readers in, and the artwork is incredible.
This is the continuing story of Rue Silver. Rue thought she was a typical student - she had good friends, hung out, went to class and broke into abandoned buildings to climb and explore in them. But after finding out that her mother was really of the faery folk, she finds out that her grandfather Aubrey wants to take over the town. He wants to surround the whole area in a spell and separate it from the human world. Rue is torn in her loyalties - her family among the faeries or her friends and all the humans in the town. An epic battle is brewing between man and faery and Rue is stuck right in the middle.
This story has a very dark edge. Rue and her friends are university students, struggling with issues of loyalty, fidelity, lust, and all the other emotions and decisions they need to make. Unfortunately they also all know about the faery world, and once you learn about something you cannot unlearn it. Her friends are drawn into this power struggle and she must decide what side she is on.
Unfortunately the book ends with a cliffhanger, leaving the reader salivating and waiting for the next installment due in the fall of 2010. This is a book very well-done with an amazing storyline and fantastic artwork.
(First Published in Imprint 2009-11-13 as 'From Spiderwick to Fantastic'.)
Rue Silver is half faerie, half human. Her mother died, leaving Rue and her father, Thaddeus, alone. Or did she really? Rue believes her mother is still alive somewhere.
Using her faerie powers, Rue travels into the world controlled by her magical grandfather and discovers her mother is still alive. Although she doesn't want to be tempted by this other world, Rue is entertained by her brief visit there. She knows she must return to keep her friends safe from her grandfather's plot to take over the city.
Relationships between Rue's friends are strained, making them vulnerable prey to the powers of the faeries. Rue realizes her boyfriend, Dale, is definitely under their control, but her attempts to convince him to fight their power over him fail miserably. Even with her ability to control plants, Aubrey, her grandfather, continues his plans to make the city his.
Holly Black, along with illustrator Ted Naifeh, is the creator of THE GOOD NEIGHBORS series. KITH is the second book, following KIN. Fans of Black's fantasy style will appreciate the mystical world inhabited by good and evil faeries. The twists and turns of the story are enhanced as the graphic illustrations bring the characters to life.
KITH is sure to be a hit with graphic novel/manga fans everywhere.