The Modern Faerie Tales series by Holly Black begins with Tithe, a dark and gritty tale of faerie. This is a take on the traditional changeling story, but imagine finding out that not only can you see faeries like those in Brian Froud’s Books, but that beneath a glamour, you are a green-skinned pixie yourself. Kaye discovers not only this, but that there are severe consequences for herself and anyone she loves, when they engage that darker world. This is what happens to Kaye, but finding out is only the beginning. The faerie kingdom is ruled by two sister queens of two courts: one evil, one good. Kate is pulled into the middle of it, after a run-in with a handsome faerie knight, beholden to the evil queen against his will.
Black is a master of both plot and tone. She is also able to weave myth and folktales into her work, making Tithe an exciting read for those who’ve ever researched the history of faerie lore, or imagined themselves in that world. This is exactly what happens to Kaye, but it is such a dark and bizarre place that she remains guarded throughout the novel, aside from when she meets Rath Roiben Rye, and falls in love.
Readers begged for another journey into this land of the faeries featuring Kaye and Roiben, and Black responded with the sequel, Ironside. There is also a companion novel called Valiant, which deals with other characters, faeries, drugs, and trolls.
When Kaye Fierch moves back to her childhood home with her mother, the faeries are there waiting. She knew they might be there, but what she doesn’t know, is that she is a faerie herself, and that soon the intersection of the worlds will be inevitable.
About the Author
Holly Black is the author of The Spiderwick Chronicles for juvenile readers, The Modern Faerie Tales series, the new CurseWorkers series for young adults, and she has also edited and contributed to anthologies such as Geektastic, Zombies Vs. Unicorns, and Bordertown.
Holly lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Theo, in a house with a secret library.
-The Darkness of Brain Froud’s Fairies and Holly’s inspiration for The Modern Fairy Tales series
-Imagine what it would be like to be a pixie and to have a faerie boyfriend, who happens to be a knight
Reading Level/Interest Age
Tithe has some interesting elements which seem like an attempt to bring realism into a story about fantasy creatures. The character Corny is the most radical, as he is a gay teen who nearly becomes addicted to the land of the faeries, and his manga pornography collection is briefly mentioned. However, Black has also been applauded for having a gay teen represented in this genre.
Why Did You Include This Book?
The sequel to Tithe, Ironside (2007), spent five weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.
- Best Books:
- Best Books for Young Adults, 2003 ; American Library Association-YALSA; United States
Kirkus Book Review Stars, September 1, 2002 ; United States
Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, October 28, 2002 ; Cahners; United States
Senior High School Library Catalog, Sixteenth Edition, 2003 Supplement, 2003 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
YALSA Teens’ Top Ten, 2003 ; Winner; United States
- Awards, Honors, Prizes:
- Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature, 2003 Finalist United States
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature, 2008 Finalist United States
- State and Provincial Reading Lists:
- Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award, 2008 ; Nominee; Illinois
Garden State Teen Book Award, 2005 ; Nominee; Fiction Grades 9-12; New Jersey
Tayshas High School Reading List, 2004-2005 ; High School; Texas
Teens’ Top Ten List, 2003 ; Nominee; United States