I love Holly Black. The woman’s spawned an empire writing edgy urban fantasy for young adults. Born in 1971 in New England, she captures the mythopoetic allure of that landscape in her stories. I discovered her books a decade ago:
Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale (Simon & Schuster, 2002)
Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie (2005)
Ironside: A Modern Faery’s Tale (2007)
These three have become old favourites. I’ve recommended them to kids for years and continue to reread them myself.
Last week, I picked up The Darkest Part of the Forest — a standalone novel published in 2015. As in the Modern Faerie Tale series, this book features a kick-ass female protagonist named Hazel Evans who doesn’t comprehend her own power. Her sidekick is her musically gifted gay brother, Benjamin. Both are in love with an enchanted Prince of Faerie. Enough said.
I think Black has softened as she’s aged. These parents are less raunchy than the smoking, beer-swilling, bad-man-loving mother of Kay in Tithe; though they still party and leave their babies to fend for themselves in the Fairfold forest. And, I admit, I found the Alderking weak for an antagonist, but then again, kings have been known to be weak. That’s how they succumb. Nevertheless, I haven’t enjoyed a book this much for a long time.
I am surprised that Black’s books (apart from the Spiderwick Chronicles 2008) haven’t made it into film. Her heroines surpass Katniss Everdeen and Bella Swan in both strength of character and intelligence. And Black’s superlative writing skills keep me reading; descriptions so visceral you feel like you’re there, woven in words and worlds you may have never heard or dreamt of before.